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Through David Bailey's Lens

Culture Watch
David Bailey and Kate Moss at the opening of "Bailey's Stardust".

A landmark exhibition of the work of David Bailey is on view now at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Bailey curated the selection of works—more than 300 of them—for Bailey’s Stardust, which is one of the Gallery’s larger-scale photography exhibitions occupying most of its ground floor.

One of the world’s most distinguished and distinctive photographers, David Bailey has made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts, creating consistently imaginative and thought-provoking portraits. As well as including new work, this exhibition contains a wide variety of Bailey’s photographs from a career that has spanned more than half a century.

‘Bailey’s Stardust is a very special event. It offers an exceptional opportunity to enjoy the widest range of the mercurial portraits created by David Bailey, one of the world’s greatest image-makers.’

The portraits have been personally selected by Bailey from the subjects and groups that he captured over the last five decades: photographers, actors, writers, musicians, filmmakers, fashion icons, designers, models, artists and people encountered on his travels; many of them famous, some unknown, all of them engaging and memorable. Bailey has made new silver gelatin prints of his black-and-white portraits especially for the exhibition.

Bailey’s Stardust is structured thematically, with iconic images presented alongside many lesser-known portraits. There are rooms devoted to Bailey’s travels in Australia, Delhi and the Naga Hills, as well as icons from the worlds of fashion and the arts, and people of the East End of London. There are selections from two of Bailey’s most acclaimed bodies of work: the Box of Pin-Ups, which helped define the 1960s through arresting studies of key figures, and Bailey’s Democracy, in which people visiting his studio were asked if they would agree to be photographed naked.

Rooms devoted to striking portraits of The Rolling Stones and Catherine Bailey contrast with remarkable documentary photographs from the photographer’s expedition to Papua New Guinea in 1974 and moving images of those devastated by the famine in east Africa, taken in support of the Band Aid charity in 1985.

 

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