With three solo exhibitions and a fabulous new retrospective book on his work, Cecil Beaton is currently having a bit of a moment.
LONDON - One of the 20th century’s greatest photographers renowned for his elegant and stylish portraits, Cecil Beaton is responsible for some of the most iconic images of the great names of the 20th century, with sitters from around the globe. Actors, artists, writers, politicians, musicians, philosophers, fellow photographers and even royalty are all represented in his portraits. Sotheby’s acquired Beaton’s private archive direct from the photographer himself in 1977 in order to preserve its role for future generations. In this spirit, we are introducing new audiences to his photographs with the first exhibition of his work in Turkey at the Pera Museum in Istanbul, which will run until 26 July before moving to the Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 30 July to 30 August, and in Sweden the exhibition will run until 30 August at the Sven-Harrys Museum in Stockholm. Both shows have been curated by Terence Pepper, Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery from 1978 to 2014. His great knowledge and passion for the photographer have produced two stunning exhibitions that span six decades of Beaton’s portraits, featuring not only the most well known “classic” Beatons, but many previously unseen images unearthed from the archive.
Cecil Beaton, The Rolling Stones, Marrakesh, March 1967.
Another exhibition, Cecil Beaton at Wilton, which runs until 13 September has been designed and curated by Jasper Conran. In the magical setting of Wilton House in Wiltshire Conran has created a rococo fantasy capturing Beaton’s fascination with the 18th century and reflecting the private Arcadia he created at his beloved home in Wiltshire – where “guests came in the knowledge that they were to exchange reality for a complete escape into the realms of fantasy.”
Cecil Beaton, Audrey Hepburn on the set of My Fair Lady with her dog Assam, 1963.
Sotheby’s is also delighted to be a major lender to the wonderful new Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London until 18 October, which illustrates the life of the actress and fashion icon.
The cover of Beaton: Photographs.
Beaton worked in a variety of media, ranging from painting, illustration, caricature, theatre and film costume design (winning two Oscars for the latter), as well as being a best-selling author, photographic historian, diarist and occasional actor. However, it is as a photographer that most critics agree that he made his most important contribution to the arts. The beautiful new book Beaton: Photographs, published by Jonathan Cape on 3 September celebrates this contribution. In her foreword to the book Annie Leibovitz says of Beaton: “He knew what he was doing. He had a sense of the history he was creating and preserving. He was a force.”