LONDON - Currently on show at The Photographers’ Gallery is the wonderful exhibition Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho, which gives us a glimpse of Soho’s streets and bohemian characters in the 1950s and early 1960s through the lense of John Deakin.
Arguably one of Britain’s greatest postwar photographers, Deakin had a brief spell at Vogue before turning his camera to his friends and beloved clubs and pubs of Soho. Deakin was a notoriously hard drinker and member of the unofficial Colony Room Club set of artists, writers and poets including Lucian Freud, Frank Auerback and Francis Bacon whose portraits all feature heavily in the exhibition.
John Deakin, Wheelers Lunch, 1963. © John Deakin, The John Deakin Archive 2013
These penetrating black and white portraits are shown alongside photographs of the street scenes from Soho and give us a fascinating insight to the bohemian character of the area and it’s frequenters. Among the 70 works featured in the exhibition are also Deakins paintings and collages, which he focused on in the later part of the 1960s, as well as a selection of his early fashion work for Vogue. The exhibition also marks the recent publication of the book Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho, which includes a wonderful selection of Deakin’s work, correspondence and contact sheets. The opening last Thursday was packed with photography critics, collectors and dealers, admiring not only Deakin’s work but also the charm and bohemia that was once Soho.
John Deakin, Girl in Café, late 1950s. © John Deakin, The John Deakin Archive 2013.
Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho
11 April – 13 July
The Photographers’ Gallery
16–18 Ramillies Street
London W1F 7LW
Brandei Estes is deputy director in the Photographs department, Sotheby’s London.
The book Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho is published on 7 April by Art/Books (www.artbookspublishing.co.uk)