Highlights Paris Photo 2021
Richard Avedon – ‘Sandra Bennett’ from ‘In The American West’
‘In The American West’ diverges from Avedon’s celebrated fashion photography and is arguably his most enduring and powerful body of work. Commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum in 1978, the series was realised between 1979 and 1984 during which time Avedon travelled through 17 states and 189 towns, crossing the American West from Texas to Idaho.
Avedon captured the day labourers and tradespeople on which the country depended. He photographed ordinary people he met at ranches, rodeos, and fairs – all against a plain, white backdrop. This neutral background exposed the commonality of the sitters from pawn brokers to drifters and prize fighters.
The prints’ dramatic scale became crucial to their representation as visitors came face to face with the sitters’ raw emotions and hardships, whilst simultaneously being confronted by their own humanity. The project was a turning point in Avedon’s career; the series helped seal the fate of photography within the cannon of contemporary art.
‘Sandra Bennett, Twelve Year Old, Rocky Ford, Colorado’ was the cover of the exhibition catalogue, first published in 1985. This portrait is one of 124 that were taken from 752 sittings, and arguably the face of this important series.
"I'm looking for a new definition of a photographic portrait… I'm looking for people who are surprising - heart breaking - or beautiful in a terrifying way. Beauty that might scare you to death until you acknowledge it as part of yourself." – Richard Avedon
Hiro – Vintage Prints
Hiro was one of the last great photographers from a generation which included Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, and Richard Avedon. He was one of the longest-serving photographers of his generation, working from the 1950’s and until his passing in August 2021. Having initially trained under Avedon, the Japanese photographer was recommended to the art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch in 1957. This started an 18-year association with one of the nation’s foremost fashion magazines and led him to become their first staff photographer under contract.
Hiro’s photographic style was unlike anything that had ever been seen before – his imagination led him to create experimental compositions which featured bold colours, unique angles, and a masterful use of light. In 1982, ‘The American Photographer’ magazine dedicated an entire issue to him, praising his ‘endlessly inventive technique’ that revolutionised the industry.
This year, Hamiltons Gallery is presenting two vintage prints, one of which is signed by long-time collaborator and friend, designer Elsa Peretti, who also passed away this year. These prints are staples of his work and encompass the minimalist, yet creative, and technically precise style for which Hiro was renowned.
“Hiro is no ordinary man. He is one of the few artists in the history of photography. He is able to bring his fear, his isolation, his darkness, his splendid light to film.” – Richard Avedon
Helmut Newton – High Gloss Prints
Hamiltons Gallery has worked with Helmut Newton and later his Foundation since 1984. Today the gallery remains one of the few authorities on his work.
In the 1970’s, Newton started making a small quantity of ‘ferrotyped’ prints – prints which are dried against a heated, metal sheet or drum to create a high-gloss effect. These glossy prints were made to imitate the sleek printing technique of the glossy magazines of Newton’s youth.
Helmut Newton is renowned for having challenged society’s perception of female desire, portraying powerful women commanding their environment. At a time of gender and sexual liberation, he viewed the protagonists in his pictures as triumphant, and the nude female body as a symbol of a woman’s strength and control.
As put by Helmut’s close friend and photography expert Philippe Garner, “Helmut valued ferrotyped prints both for their immediate physical quality that so matched the hard, cool chic of his images and for the significant historical associations they carried for him”.
He stopped ‘ferrotyping’ his prints around 1982, as the process was too technically demanding to accommodate the demand for his pictures. The prints that remain are incredibly rare and are in themselves an extension of the way Newton envisioned the ultimate physical expression of his oeuvre. Hamiltons Gallery published a limited edition catalogue of ferrotyped prints on the occasion of Newton’s centenary exhibition in 2020 – Helmut Newton : High Gloss.
Don McCullin – Vintage Prints
Sir Don McCullin is arguably the most important living conflict photographer and photojournalist. For many decades, his name has garnered international acclaim and he has exhibited record-breaking retrospectives at both Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool.
Between 1966 and 1984, McCullin worked for The Sunday Times Magazine during which time he took some of the worlds’ most recognised pictures of war, famine, crisis and poverty. The images are both historically important as well as recognised for their strength of composition, high contrast style and their emotional resonance. Today, Don’s pictures are mostly available as gelatin silver print oversized editions or prints on 20 x 24 in paper. But his vintage work has only scarcely been offered, and even more rarely presented.
McCullin has been awarded numerous awards over the years, including two premier Awards from the World Press Photo and the 2006 Cornell Capa Award by the International Centre for Photography in New York for his lifetime contribution to photography. In 1993, he was the first photojournalist to be made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE), trumped by a Knighthood in 2017. He is the author of more than a dozen books and his work is held in numerous private and public collections around the world.
Several of his vintage prints are to be included in an upcoming exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this month, having been acquired from the gallery in 2019.