PRINT October 1986


EDGAR DEGAS ONCE CHAFED James McNeill Whistler, who wore a cape and sported a monocle, by saying, “My dear friend, you dress as if you had no talent.” Cecil Beaton adopted a similar pose during a career that enabled him to photograph Lillie Langtry in the beginning and Mick Jagger at the end. Unquestionably an artist of special refinement, he posed almost fatally as one who was ”artistic.” The pose has kept his name alive as a character who played various hothouse scenes in Mayfair, Hollywood, and among the Manhattan and Palm Springs hoi polloi of the Depression ’30s. The summer’s immense Beaton retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery in the Barbican Centre, London, reconstructed this sense of his foppish theatrics, and yet, with much unpublished material and new comment, it proposed a thoroughly new vision of them. As a photographer, Beaton emerged as an intricate strategist, whose work

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