Wednesday, December 14

A Visual Tour of Cecil Beaton: The New York Years

Curated by Donald Albrecht, Cecil Beaton: The New York Years begins with a series of illustrations of portraits in charcoal, gouache, ink, and watercolor. Although many of the portraits were of fashion models, some were of celebrities including Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.

Portions of the exhibition were dedicated to certain artists and celebrities that Beaton was heavily influenced by or associated with, including Spanish artist Salvador Dali and his wife, Gala. Other portions were dedicated to Marilyn Monroe and Truman Capote.

During World War II, Beaton was given the task to of recording images from the home front. The image of Eileen Dunne, a 3 year-old Blitz victim, clutching her teddy bear as she recovered in a hospital landed Beaton the title of an established and prominent photographer.

During his time in New York City, Beaton decided to get involved in the design world. He began designing sets and costumes for Broadway shows, ballets, and operas. A set of costumes, including a red silk number that opera singer Charles Anthony wore in the 1961 performance of Turandot, showcases Beaton's design talent.

An early sketch of the red silk dress that Anthony would later wear in the 1961 performance of Turandot.

One of many images of Greta Garbo, the Swedish film actress was not only one of Beaton's muses, but a lover.

Andy Warhol had been fascinated by Beaton and for many years, seeking and ultimately succeeding him. The shot of Warhol and members of the Factory taken by Beaton remains a cultural touchstone.

Cecil Beaton: The New York Years comes to and end with an image of Mick Jagger sitting in front of his hotel window with a night view of New York City behind him. Although it may have been one of Beaton's last photographs, the laughing Jagger ends the exhibition in a light, happy note.

(All images were taken by me, except for the September 23, 1940 Life magazine cover, courtesy of and the Mick Jagger photograph, courtesy of Conde Nast)

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