Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Art Attack: Cecil Beaton's Other Genius

Nowness - aka the best website on earth - has turned the focus back to one of the original geniuses of fashion photography, the one and only Cecil Beaton. Beaton, who is most famous for his capturing of each and every glamazon of his day, from Marilyn to Audrey to Queen Elizabeth, has now been bestowed with the title of ‘magical diary keeper’, by having his collaged inspirations compiled into a new Assouline title, The Art of the Scrapbook, available at the end of the month. I have no doubt that the vibrancy of these frozen moments in pop culture will utterly delight the senses (and certainly at $250 a pop, the book will be a lot more reasonable than trying to score copies of a similar collectible titles from the 50's, which I have been trying to acquire for a good 3 years now... )

Talk of the upcoming book brought me back to my first discovery of Beaton’s ‘other’ work, when my ‘in-training’ eye was first assaulted with the wildly imaginative images that hovered perfectly between the worlds of fashion and art – specifically Surrealism – that were so intermingled during his earlier days of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.

One photo in particular stands out as my all-time Beaton fave: ‘The Soapsuds Group’ at The Living Posters Ball of 1930. Pictured at the left is the photographer’s sister and sometimes muse, Baba, along with her two friends, Wanda Baillie-Hamilton and Lady Bridget Poulett. As the title suggests, the three young debs are posing as soapsuds. Soapsuds in the most fantastical bathtub ever to be imagined, the three ephemeral beauties appear like archways which make way for the experimental future of The Factory, Exploding Plastic Inevitables et al, transforming rich girl portraiture into dreamy art. Magnifique, right?

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