David Bailey’s Stardust

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Legendary British photographer and 1960s superstar David Bailey is holding an exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery from February 6- June 1 2014.


The landmark – Bailey is one of only three people to be granted the whole of the lower exhibition space at the NPG – ‘Stardust’ exhibition pulls together over 300 portraits including rooms devoted to The Rolling Stones, Bailey’s travels, Box of Pin Ups, Catherine Bailey, icons of fashion and arts.

David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton in the swinging sixties

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.


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, its title reflecting the notion we are all made from, and return to, ‘stardust’. Portraits of a range of sitters – from the glamorous to the impoverished, the famous to the notorious – are presented in a series of contrasting rooms, and through images of skulls and pregnancy, powerful meditations on birth and death.


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.


David Bailey’s many publications include Eye (2009), Is that So Kid (2008), NY JS DB 62 (2007), Bailey’s Democracy (2005), Locations – The 1970s Archive (2003), Chasing Rainbows (2001), Archive One – The 1960s (1999) and Box of Pin-Ups (1964).


Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘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.’



Sponsored by HUGO BOSS
National Portrait Gallery, London (6 February -1 June 2014) www.npg.org.uk


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