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DAVID BAILEY, SYMBOL OF SWINGING LONDON

For its new exhibition, the Fahey/Klein gallery in Los Angeles is honouring this legendary photographer and portraitist of the swinging sixties, who also inspired the character in Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-Up”.

Tight framing, white backgrounds and minimal posing – these are the key words that characterise the style of David Bailey (1938-). This self-taught artist, who became a master of black and white and an icon of Swinging London, helped transform the art of photographic portraiture in the 1960s.

David Hockney, 1965 © David Bailey, courtesy of FaheyKlein Gallery, Los Angeles
Jane Birkin, 1969 © David Bailey, courtesy of FaheyKlein Gallery, Los Angeles

This is what the Fahey/Klein gallery in Los Angeles is reminding us with a selection of his emblematic images, with a career spanning more than six decades. Fashion, music, film and fine art stars such as Mick Jagger, Jane Birkin, David Hockney, Helmut Newton, Jean Shrimpton and Michael Caine all grace the walls of the Californian gallery. The exhibition also includes prints with little-known torn effects from his portfolio. The man who spent his childhood in the East End during the Blitz of the Second World War knew how to flout the rules of his predecessors, adding his own singular touch. The period of post-war austerity gave way to the euphoria of the swinging sixties, for which he became one of the icons of photography in his native London.

ENERGETIC AND MAGNETIC

David Bailey began his career by discovering the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Initially working as a photographer’s assistant, he soon took off and published his first portrait in Today magazine in 1960. His meteoric rise came, in the meantime, with Vogue UK. He was only 22 at the time. At the height of his productivity, this man of boundless energy became the photographer everyone wanted. This was followed by the publication of his first photobook, “Box of Pin-Ups”, which presented a constellation of stars from the cultural and artistic industries in the form of a free portfolio. 

Catherine Bailey, 1992 © David Bailey, courtesy of FaheyKlein Gallery, Los Angeles
Naomi Campbell, 1989 © David Bailey, courtesy of FaheyKlein Gallery, Los Angeles

It was his breakthrough with the cinema. Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni drew inspiration from his persona for the role of the fashion photographer played by David Hemmings in “Blow-Up” in 1966, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Married four times, one of whom was none other than Catherine Deneuve, he pursued a rich career between photography and directing. 

Jerry Hall and Lartigue, French Vogue, Nice, France, 1983
© David Bailey, courtesy of FaheyKlein Gallery, Los Angeles

His career includes a plethora of promotional spots and documentaries on Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol and Luchino Visconti. David Bailey’s work, which has since been exhibited around the world, remains astonishingly modern today, standing the test of time magnificently.

NATHALIE DASSA

David Bailey – Photographs

From 28 September to 11 November 2023

Fahey/Klein Gallery

148 North La Brea, Los Angeles

faheykleingallery.com

« BAILEY – Photographs »

Nathalie Dassa