Thursday, 7 July 2011
Bonfire of the transparencies: a Brian Duffy retrospective
If I had £375 to spare, this gorgeous photograph of Grace Coddington would be on my bedroom wall faster than Rupert Murdoch can launch the The Sun on Sunday. The image is part of the fantastic Brian Duffy retrospective at the Ideas Generation Gallery. Duffy along with David Bailey and Terence Donovan was one of the first pop star photographers - a group of young working class lads who revolutionized British photography in the sixties and became more important than their subjects. The newspapers called them the Terrible Trio, but Duffy was the one with the punk rock attitude. Described by Philippe Garner, Head of Photography at Christie's as, ' An anarchic, abrasive, provocative young talent who sensed the seismic shifts in British culture that could allow hin to invent himself as one of the most successful of a new breed of fashionable photographers.'
He set fire to his photographic archive in 1979. And quit.
'I came to work, and an assistant said, " We haven't got any lavatory paper, bog paper - you know, toilet paper," and I said, "Oh yeah." And I thought, this has got to end. I realised in a flash that I'd ended up commander-in-chief, managing director, senior partner in charge of the toilet bloody paper. And that's when I decided to knock it on the head. Either by me murdering my staff, killing myself, or setting fire to the whole fucking thing. I decided to burn all the negatives in the garden.'
Fortunately for us, over 160 of Duffy's images escaped the fire:
That's Not My Age loves the wall of magazine tear sheets, and the iconic pictures of Jean Shrimpton and Verushcka:
Duffy photographed three of David Bowie's album covers: Aladdin Sane, Lodger and Scary Monsters. And many actors, politicians, designers and artists including Sidney Poitier and Arne Jacobson.
The first book of Duffy's work is on sale now. And the first ever full retrospective at the Ideas Generation Gallery runs until 28 August. Go see it.