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Cecil Beaton - Chris Beetles Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IN A unique collaboration with Sotheby’s, Chris Beetles Gallery is presenting an exhibition of Cecil Beaton prints. On display from April 22 to May 16, 2009, it will include many twentieth century icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Gilbert and George and members of the Royal family.

The exhibition is the first time for many years that these prints will be on view and available to buy. By drawing extensively on Sotheby’s archive of Beaton material, the exhibition of around 70 prints will form the most comprehensive Beaton exhibition for many years.

Discussing the exhibition, Giles Huxley-Parlour, director of photography at Chris Beetles Gallery, said: “Cecil Beaton was essential to the cultural life of Britain and beyond in the twentieth century, both as a creator and a recorder. He was a photographer, painter, illustrator, writer and Oscar-winning designer of sets and costumes. We are delighted to have collaborated with Sotheby’s, drawing on their unique archive, to bring these fascinating pictures to public view.”

Placing himself at the centre of fashionable society in the 1920s, Beaton was instrumental in presenting and promoting both the Sitwells and their circle and the ‘Bright Young Things’ that surrounded Stephen Tennant. As published in Vogue, Tatler and Vanity Fair, his portraits and fashion plates summed up the dazzling era with elegance and wit.

Ever the aesthete, Beaton the photographer cultivated a genius for staging compelling scenes. By employing theatrical costumes and props, experimenting with materials and mirrors, and referencing the history of art, he created an extraordinary sense of occasion for each of his sitters.

By the late 1930s, Beaton was so well established that his sitters included stars of stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic, and even leading members of the Royal Family. During the Second World War, he expanded his repertoire further by taking photographs for the Ministry of Information, on the home front and abroad. Then, after the war, he became part of a new world of glamour, helping to make such icons as Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol, and influencing younger photographers like David Bailey.

Chris Beetles Ltd will open its newly refurbished premises with this exciting exhibition.

Time: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5.30pm.

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 and 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB