Paul Stolper is pleased to announce ‘The Stockdale Effect’, an exhibition of new photographs by David Bailey. Taken at his studio during this summer in London, the 21 works are made up of still lives, fashion images, and portraits, making up a contrasting body of work that is still unmistakably Bailey.
Since boundaries between art, fashion and photography have become ever more blurred Bailey’s work has easily been absorbed into the art world. Bailey however makes no distinction between these differing mediums, stressing that photography is no more special than painting. “Paint brushes and cameras are the same thing, one is no more valid than the other; the camera is just a new instrument for making art.”
Ask him if he considers what he does to be art though, and he replies, “it doesn’t matter, the viewer decides”. And yet in ‘The Stockdale Effect’ Bailey presents a sepia image of a Skull that sits inside a leather bodice, a stunning photograph of a model wearing a plaster cast for a dress, and another of a model walking on crutches; all subject matter that feels very current and contemporary; “the crutch is a bit ‘tongue in cheek’, a nod to Helmut Newton, but he doesn’t have a monopoly on crutches”.
The subject matter, for all its appearance of being very studied, is quite spontaneous and organic. But for all its spontaneity though it is very considered, and that comes from an astonishing career that began in the late 1950’s and has encompassed not only photography but also documentaries, commercials and drama. “When I first started it was more like being a stand-up comedian, now it’s like being a theatrical director”, he says referring to the number of people involved in shoots. “In fact it’s more like theatre than painting. Fashion is about theatre.” And collaboration as Bailey is keen to stress; collaboration between the stylist, the models and the make-up artists.
Considered one of the driving forces behind contemporary photography, David Bailey is credited with photographing some of the most powerful images of the last four decades. He first rose to fame making stars of a new generation of models including Jean Shrimpton and Penelope Tree. Since then his work has never failed to impress and inspire critics and admirers alike. “I've always tried to do pictures that don't date. I always go for simplicity.”