David Bailey 'Hitler killed the Duck'
Scream is proud to announce a solo exhibition featuring new work by iconic British artist David Bailey, who during a prolific career has created countless images that are embedded in our cultural psyche. ‘Hitler Killed the Duck’ will feature unseen mixed media images. The new works will be shown in public for the first time, and although Bailey has been painting in his studio for years, this exhibition will be an exciting departure from the photography for which the 73 year old Bailey is renowned. A mixture of painting and photography using oils and pigment prints, canvas and silk, the exhibition will feature a mixture of portraits and paintings inspired by Baileys childhood, influences, inspiration, fears and desires.
As a child growing up in the East End, Bailey often went to the cinema with his family, because it was cheaper than staying at home and heating the house. He loved watching cartoons featuring Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse et al, and at the age of 12 won a City & Guilds competition for his drawing of Bambi. During The Blitz The Luftwaffe bombed the cinema, and he couldn’t see his beloved films anymore. So Hitler effectively killed Donald Duck for the young Bailey.
“There was a cinema in Upton Park, an Odeon I think, and that’s where I saw Bambi and Mickey Mouse cartoons, and I thought that was the only place you could see them. Hitler bombed it, so he sort of killed Mickey Mouse, Bambi and all those characters for me. All I did as a kid was draw Walt Disney characters.” David Bailey
Images of Hitler juxtaposed with Disney characters refer to Bailey’s upbringing in the East End of London, which was disrupted by the bombing during World War II. Religious iconography is evident in other images, referring to the religious programmes that frequented the radio waves during his childhood. Modern-day Angelic figures are depicted in some of the portraits, visualising Bailey’s love of Angels and the image of ‘The Annunciation’. Bailey is a self-taught artist, so it is quite fitting that Primitivist influences are evident in several of the images, whilst his love of Picasso can also be detected as an undercurrent in the exhibition. A striking image in the exhibition is a self-portrait of Bailey as Velázquez’s Pope Innocent X, a wry homage to Francis Bacon.
David Bailey was born in Leytonstone in 1938 but his family moved to East Ham when he was three after a WWII bomb destroyed their home. He left school on his fifteenth birthday, and worked as a copy boy at the Fleet Street offices of the Yorkshire Post. He was called up for National Service in 1956 serving for the Royal Air Force in Singapore. It was here that he became enamoured with photography and in 1956 he bought his first camera. Bailey secured a job as photographic assistant to John French in 1959. Soon after, he began his long-lasting relationship with British Vogue, going on to shoot for the American, French and Italian publications, reportedly snapping up to 800 pages of Vogue editorial in one year at the peak of his productivity. He is famed for capturing the 'Swinging London' of the Sixties, as illustrated in his first book, Box of Pin- Ups (1964) in which he famously photographed celebrities such as The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, and the infamous Kray Twins. Bailey has exhibited all over the world throughouthis prolific career. Bailey and his former muse Jean Shrimpton are the subject of a BBC4 film ‘We’ll Take Manhattan’, which wil be screened later this year.
Bailey had his first exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1971 and the next forty years saw him exhibit his photographs in over twenty shows all around the world, from New York to Mexico, Berlin to Milan. Other notable shows include a 'One Man Retrospective' at the V&A in 1983, a touring exhibition - 'Birth of the Cool 1957-1969 & contemporary work' - which travelled from the Barbican, London to the National Galleries of Scotland via Bradford, Stockholm and Helsinki, and the 2010 Bonhams exhibition 'Pure Sixties Pure Bailey'.
Bailey may be best known for his fashion and celebrity portraiture but his oeuvre is far more complex and wide-reaching than that. In 1985 he exhibited 'Pictures of Sudan for Band Aid' at the ICA and held an auction at Sotheby's for the Live Aid Concert for Band Aid. He has made more than 30 books, and in 2010 he flew out to Afghanistan to take pictures of the British troops in Helmand Province. The proceeds from the resulting book of the photos went to the charity ‘Help for Heroes’. Other exhibitions document the urban landscapes of Bailey's home town (Bailey N.W.1, 1982) and of cityscapes further afield (Havana, 2006). His extensive back catalogue reflects a wide range of interests and passions, and includes books of photographs on people, places and subjects that have touched his colourful life, from the highly collectable Box of Pin-Ups in 1964, to his 1984 collection of nude studies Nudes 1981-1984.