Yesterday, we spent the day at the Imperial War Museum.
We were there to see the exhibition Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War.
"Cecil Beaton is one of Britain’s most celebrated photographers and designers. His glamorous photographs of royalty and celebrities projected him to fame but his extraordinary work as a wartime photographer is less well-known.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Information in July 1940, Beaton was the longest serving high-profile photographer to cover the Second World War. He travelled throughout Britain, the Middle East, India, China and Burma and captured a world on the brink of lasting change.
In later years, Beaton attributed his war photographs as his single most important body of photographic work. Through his photographs, drawings and books as well as his work in theatre and film, this exhibition tells the story of how the war became a personal turning point in Beaton’s career."
I am a big fan of Cecil Beaton's. A prolific and talented photographer and designer, he managed to capture people and places with an extraordinary aesthetic sense of beauty. I adore his 1920s pictures showing the Bright Young Things of the time and he was a wonderful society and fashion photographer who managed to express the incredible elegance and mystery of the 20s and 30s.
I was very touched by the pictures he took in an England at war; his Blitz pictures have a cruel, dramatic beauty about them. Ever since I studied the Blitz at university, I have had a strange relationship to this period of British history. I am fascinated yet horrified by it, and when I see the devastation in London (or any other English city) it makes me want to cry - this coming from someone who very rarely cry. Cecil Beaton's pictures of England at war are truly enthralling, because he has somehow managed to give elegance to the ruins and a touching human beauty to his subjects. His pictures of the men involved in the Battle of Britain are incredibly cinematic and give those pilots an heroic aura, the allure of heroes worthy of the most glamorous Hollywood movies.
I wasn't as taken by this pictures from the Middle and Far East - and it seems that the public at the time weren't either. Fortunately, there were not too many of them overall.
After the war, Cecil Beaton returned to the glamorous world of fashion and entertainment, having proven to everyone, including himself, that there was more to him than an extraordinary flamboyant and talented photographer of beautiful people. He carried on working until 1974, when he suffered a devastating stroke (He died in 1980).
Thorough review of the exhibition HERE.
You can buy fabulous prints from the exhibition HERE.
It is on until January 1st 2013.
Two of my favourite pictures:
I think therefore I write.
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