Portrait: Lord Snowdon

16 July, 2014 at 22:28 | Posted in Art, Exhibit Bits, Photography, Portrait | Leave a comment
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When I read that portrait photographer Lord Snowdon just donated 130 original prints to London’s National Portrait Gallery, my initial reaction was, ‘Lord Snowdon is still alive?!’

Although that sounds crass, it’s only because so much of his life and career strike me as belonging to an era long past.

Born Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1930, he attended Eton and coxed at Cambridge before beginning a career in photography, and by 27 he was taking official portraits for Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 1957 tour of Canada. A few years later he became engaged to Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, and following their glamourous wedding he was titled the Earl of Snowdon.

NPG x35959; Lord Snowdon by Cecil Beaton

Lord Snowdon by Cecil Beaton 

SnowweddingNPG x125132; Lord Snowdon; David Armstong-Jones, Viscount Linley; Lady Sarah Chatto; Princess Margaret by Cecil BeatonDespite his new status he continued to work, primarily as a society photographer and often for the royal family. The couple’s marriage produced two children but quickly deteriorated; they divorced in 1978 following public infidelities by both parties. Snowdon wed and had another child almost immediately, while Margaret never married again.

Incredibly, the divorce did not end his working relationship with the royals; he was behind the lens for Charles and Diana’s official engagement portraits in 1981, and the National Portrait Gallery’s collection includes shots of his former in-laws taken as recently as 1997.
NPG x35372; Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales by Lord Snowdon

 Prince Charles and Lady Diana

NPG x76732; David Hockney by Lord Snowdon

David Hockey

NPG P843; John Ronald Reuel Tolkien by Lord Snowdon

JRR Tolkien

NPG P828; Sam Mendes by Lord Snowdon

Sam Mendes

NPG x27864; Jeremy Irons by Lord Snowdon

Jeremy Irons

NPG P218; Diana, Princess of Wales by Lord Snowdon

The 130 new portraits, which feature David Bowie, Graham Greene and John Hurt among them, will join the over 200 Snowdon works already in the Gallery’s collection, and are conveniently timed to be included in its upcoming exhibition Snowdon: A Life in View, on display from September 26, 2014 to June 21, 2015. I think you’ll agree that many of his best works portray a time that seems long past.
NPG x29573; Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Charles; Princess Anne; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by Lord Snowdon

Prince Charles and Princess Anne

NPG x29583; Princess Anne and Prince Charles by Lord Snowdonstephwereley

Portrait: Brigitte Lacombe

29 September, 2011 at 20:24 | Posted in Photography, Portrait | 2 Comments
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Photographer Brigitte Lancombe has a way with the genetically blessed.

She got her start at French Elle and often serves as an on-set stills photographer; hence all the actors. My favourites are her portraits, often done in black and white.

Admittedly, she’s not working with difficult subject matter. But it’s no wonder her shots frequently appear in People magazine’s Most Beautiful People issue; when your subject’s gotta make mere mortals weep, accept no substitute.

Love the show, Jimmy!


Get out of Jude Law’s shot, Matt Damon

This face is one of my favourites; she’ll get an entire post one day.

Until then, mortals!


Exhibit Bits: CONTACT

13 May, 2010 at 21:01 | Posted in Exhibit Bits, Photography | 1 Comment
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Toronto’s CONTACT photography festival is happening all over Toronto for the entire month of May. Take advantage of this weekend’s nice weather to check out some local galleries.

I found this image by Yeshwanth Babu posted on BlogTO and currently showing at AXIS Gallery and Grill. I quite like it because it was shot on my new street corner. Thanks for visiting, Beth!


Art: Corbijn

8 May, 2010 at 03:15 | Posted in Photography | Leave a comment
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Anton Corbijn has recently wrapped his second feature film, The American. I won’t see it because it stars George Clooney, who keeps playing the same character in every film. And while I’m sure it’s beautifully shot, it’s in colour. Corbijn, as both photographer and director, is best is black and white.

Corbijn began photographing musicians in the 1980s, later directing music videos and live concerts. In 2007 he completed his first full-length film, Control. The muted colour palette suits the sombre storyline, and the result is beautiful.

Corbijn’s work is the subject of a documentary film, Shadow Play: the making of Anton Corbijn. A screening will be held on Sunday, May 9 at Bloor Cinema in Toronto as part of the HotDocs festival.


Art: Exhibit Bits [Warhol Edition]

6 April, 2010 at 02:22 | Posted in Art, Exhibit Bits, Photography | Leave a comment
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The world’s most famous pop artist continues to extend his 15 minutes of fame.

The Brooklyn Museum will host a major exhibition of his mature works this summer in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade.

Elsewhere in the five boroughs, Chelsea’s Steven Kasher Gallery is currently displaying over 70 previously unseen Warhol photographs. The photos were chosen by Warhol to appear in a book, but it was cancelled in 1979. The project  has been revived and will be published this year as Andy Warhol: Unexposed Exposures.

Back in Pittsburgh, the Warhol Museum is hosting Playboy Redux: Contemporary Artists Interpret the Iconic Playboy Bunny. The exhibit is part of ongoing events celebrating the magazine’s 50th anniversary.


Portrait: Britney

19 February, 2010 at 02:04 | Posted in Art, Photography, Portrait | Leave a comment
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America’s favourite pop tart has been captured in a series of portraits by three of the world’s most respected photographers. Britney Spears is seen through the lens of Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger, and Terry Richardson for Candie’s new fashion campaign.

Leibovitz’s version is livelier than I expected- she tends to capture her female subjects in regal poses. But shooting Britney in a serious way simply wouldn’t match her persona. This active pose is more fitting.

Mark Seliger is a personal favourite of mine, particularly when he injects humour and satire into his shots. He’s worked with Britney before for Rolling Stone, and the results were a lot of fun. This is a bit tame in comparison.

Terry Richardson‘s shot is my favourite, simply because it’s classic Britney. It’s sexy, naughty, and a little bit trashy – she fits right in with the Richardson aesthetic. It’s a perfect pairing.

It’s interesting to see each photographer stamp themselves on their work, no matter how famous their subject. Here are a few more classic Britney shots:

David LaChapelle for Rolling Stone, March 1999. Pairing an 18-year-old with LaChapelle was bound to push the envelope. This was her first major piece of media publicity, and it would give audiences a taste of things to come.

Herb Ritts captured Britney in November 2001.  Sporting a clean outdoorsy look, Ritts managed to whitewash the singer for Vogue.

Ellen Von Unwerth shot Britney for her comeback album, Blackout. I’m a big fan of von Unwerth, so I’m tempted to chalk up this uninspired work to the personal and professional struggles Britney was experiencing at the time. The Candie’s campaign once again captures her in top form.

Candie’s campaign series highlights the diverse talents of today’s top photographers and the power they wield from behind the camera. Keep it coming because I love seeing their work!


Portrait: Captain Ferdinand

9 February, 2010 at 21:09 | Posted in Art, Photography, Portrait | Leave a comment
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The National Portrait Gallery in London has had a stroke of luck regarding the timing of its new advertising campaign. Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand is featured in the advertisements, which have been unveiled just days after he was named captain of the English football team. His appointment was the result of controversy over the personal life of former captain John Terry. “It’s pure luck that we chose Rio,” said Denise Ellitson, the National Portrait Gallery‘s head of marketing. “We wanted to show we had contemporary photography and it really helps us that he’s in the news.”

Lord Nelson and Mary, Queen of Scots are also featured in the ads, which appear in public spaces around London. Each is intended to highlight little-know facts about sitter. Ferdinand studied at the Central School of Ballet on scholarship before pursuing a career in soccer; Nelson suffered from seasickness, and Mary Queen of Scots excelled at her nation’s pastime, golf.

This captures perfectly why I love London’s National Portrait Gallery. The entertainment  is threefold; you have the opportunity to learn about the sitter and the artist while enjoying great art. I hope others discover the Gallery as a result.

And as someone who hopes to one day work at the Portrait Gallery of Canada, it’s good practice to keep updated with what your peers are doing.


Portrait: Sam Taylor-Wood

30 January, 2010 at 05:05 | Posted in Art, Photography, Portrait | Leave a comment
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Artist Sam Taylor-Wood is currently attending the Sundance Film Festival in support of her feature-length directorial debut. Nowhere Boy depicts John Lennon’s Liverpool childhood.

Back in the 1990s, Taylor-Wood was part of a group of artists collectively dubbed the Young British Artists‘ group. No doubt influenced by the Brit Pop phenomenon, the joint exhibits of various talented artists were recognized en masse by the media. The result was the heralding of a new generation of art celebrities. High-profile members included Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Taylor-Wood. She was recognized for her work with a Turner Prize nomination in 1997.

Taylor-Wood frequently created self-portraits. Among her most well-known is Self-portrait in single-breasted suit with hare, which references the artists’s renewed passion for life following a bout with cancer and subsequent mastectomy. A more recent series, Suspended, depicts a disregard for weight and gravity. I came across quite a few people on the web who were touched by her defiant images. The message for many seems to be, ‘let go.’

I had to include this last work simply because I love the story behind it. Taylor-Wood was commissioned to produce a Beckham portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, and struggled with the challenge of capturing one of world’s most photographed men in an original way. She did so by filming his afternoon nap.


Art: Mapplethorpe

19 January, 2010 at 22:14 | Posted in Art, Photography, Portrait | Leave a comment
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Patti Smith is releasing a book about her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. They met in 1967, when Smith was 20 and Mapplethorpe was 21. They would remain close until his death in 1989.

Smith witnessed the scope of Mapplethorpe’s career from its early beginnings. He is best know for his work of flower arrangements, personal portraits and sexually-charged nudes. All were done exclusively in black-and-white film. I feel that his portraits may have been the inspiration for Calvin Klein ads in the ’90s; Mapplethorpe’s aesthetic depicted muscular men and waif-like females with defiant gazes. Perhaps they inspired the pairing of Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg?

Here’s a quick [G-rated] introduction to his work:

Smith’s book, entitled Just Kids, was released today.


Art: Ryan McGinley

16 January, 2010 at 04:19 | Posted in Art, Photography | 1 Comment
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Art and fashion have once again collided in Pringle of Scotland’s new advertising campaign. The classic label has recruited American photographer Ryan McGinley and Scottish actress Tilda Swinton to collaborate on the new advertising campaign, complete with a mini movie. It features spring/summer formal wear and lots of wild Scottish landscapes.

But back to McGinley. Despite his youth, he managed to garner an enormous amount of respect in a very short time. Although he’s been doing a lot of fashion portfolios as of late, I’m best acquainted with his work for Vice Magazine. A reoccuring theme of his is people in nature, frequently nude. The results are photos that suggest dreamy fantasy worlds. Check it out.


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