A portrait is more than capturing the likeness of someone at a specific time in a specific place. A real portrait tells us something about the person looking back in a subtle but powerful way.
When you look past the glamorous setting, elaborate clothes and makeup, it's something in their eyes, in their posture, something is captured in that moment that resonates through the photograph to us, the viewer. We, as the viewers, find ourselves connecting with someone who isn't actually there, someone who might have lived fifty or a hundred years ago. It's quite the surreal experience.
One that not every photographer can capture. Certainly not one that we you can capture through your iPhone to post on Instagram. It's a talent. A type of magical spell that world renowned and iconic photographer Cecil Beaton can cast on his sitter and viewers, all with the click of his camera. Some of you may not be familiar with his name, but whether you know it or not, you're definitely familiar with his photographs.
The images that the British born photographer has captured across six decades of a prolific career have influenced generations of fashion and celebrity photographers. Beaton has photographed some of the world's most iconic stars of the stage and screen, royalty, artists and society's most glamorous and influential characters, including Queen Elizabeth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn and Andy Warhol.
His timeless portraits are often the images our mind conjures up when we recall some of these iconic public figures. And now you can see them for yourself. Sotheby's Dubai in DIFC is, for the first time ever in the Middle East, presenting an exhibition of Beaton's work, till May 27. Curated by Terence Pepper, Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London and Joanna Ling, Head of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's, the exhibition will present over 60 portraits of Beaton's most celebrated works, spanning six decades. Trust us when we say that this is an exhibition not to miss.
The photographs are arresting, captivating and simply beautiful. To celebrate Sotheby's exhibition of Beaton, we've complied some of our favourite celebrity photographs by the man himself and added his words from his infamous diaries on his experiences with these iconic personalities. Beaton Facts: Not only was Beaton undoubtedly the most significant British-born photographer of the 20th century, he was also an award winning set and costume designer for film and theatre, wrote numerous books, kept a capacious diary and travelled the world. In the course of his long career, Beaton photographed virtually every prominent person in public life - everyone from the Queen to the Rolling Stones.
In many of his portraits, Beaton included himself somehow. Either through a reflection in the background or a strategically placed mirror, you can see the photographer holding his camera somewhere. Beaton won Tony Awards for his costume work as a designer for My Fair Lady (1957) and Coco (1970), and nabbed Oscars for Gigi (1958) and the big screen adaptation of My Fair Lady (1964) for costume and set designs. In the beginning of the 1960s, Beaton released a series of diaries that documented his relationships with royalty and celebrities over previous decades. These series of diaries are still popular today. Beaton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.