Bailey: Vision and Sound, in collaboration with Dellasposa Gallery 22 September, and runs to the end of January 2023 45 Park Lane London W1K 1PN
A new solo exhibition by photographer and filmmaker David Bailey CBE will showcase his unrivalled archive of rare and unseen portraits and candid shots of the music world’s most iconic figures. Bailey: Vision and Sound opens at Mayfair hotel 45 Park Lane on Thursday 22nd September and reflects the photographer’s unique style and talent for connecting with his sitters with portraits and candid shots taken over six decades. Highlights include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Bob Marley, Patti Smith and his jazz heroes, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Dizzie Gillespie.
Bailey: Vision and Sound confirms why the East London-born photographer is also considered one of the greatest iconographers of the era that changed the world – the 1960s. It includes an early portrait of Mick Jagger in Paris before the Stones had ever made a record. Despite Jagger being an unknown at the time, the image nevertheless captivated Diana Vreeland, then editor of American Vogue: “I don’t care who he is,” she said, “it’s a fantastic picture. I want to publish it.” Soon after, Bailey and his Pentax were there as the Stones, resplendent in technicolour velvets and silks, stalked the henge at Avebury in 1968.
While Bailey is widely recognised for his radical eye in fashion, he also captured the zeitgeist, creating iconic portraits of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles in the Sixties that represented a shift in attitudes and styles. Other portraits taken throughout decades of ground-breaking music include; David Bowie, Elton John, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith. His 2007 portrait of Damon Albarn captures the striking composure of the musician, and his luminous image of reggae master Bob Marley demonstrates Bailey’s natural talent for putting his sitters at ease. The exhibition features a unique work on canvas depicting John Lennon and Paul McCartney, which relates to the photographic portrait in his groundbreaking Box of Pin-Ups series; Bailey appears to have captured the unique bond of the song-writing duo’s relationship.
The exhibition also presents out-takes from shoots Bailey conducted for album covers, including the sleeves for The Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1968) and Goats Head Soup (1973), as well as the iconic image for Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies (1973). “We actually had a million dollars in cash in the studio for the shoot,” Bailey recalls. “Afterwards the bank counted the whole lot, and there was ten dollars missing.” The note was found burning on a light.
Grace Jones, Kate Bush, and Patti Smith are among the female giants in Bailey’s archive, while his portrait of Noel and Liam Gallagher captures a significant moment in the ‘Cool Britannia’ period of British music history. “I worked quickly as I wanted them out of the studio – I thought they might kill each other,” Bailey recalls of the rivalrous Oasis siblings’ time in front of his lens.
Bailey: Vision and Sound also serves as an homage to Bailey’s own musical heroes, including jazz great Duke Ellington. A shot of Ellington in rehearsal, casting a brief glimpse across the room, offers a moment of solitude – not the typical image of a showman on stage. Other portraits of Bailey’s jazz heroes include Miles Davis and an unseen image of trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie. An exhibition of this scope is testament to Bailey’s unique eye. His portraits draw out his subjects’ essential qualities, often presenting them with refreshing clarity.
“It’s not the camera that takes the picture; it’s the person,” Bailey has stated. Over the past six decades, he has formed lasting friendships with many musicians, photographing them in all their exuberance and in his own stunningly incisive and minimalist manner. The result is a collection of photographic works that have cultivated and influenced the visual culture of music for his and other generations.
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