Bailey’s Stardust, National Portrait Gallery

The work of David Bailey is celebrated in Bailey’s Stardust at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 6 February. All of the selected images have been chosen by the photographer and make up over 250 portraits. Running until 1 June this will be one of the Gallery’s larger-scale photography exhibitions. One of the world’s most distinguished and distinctive photographers, Bailey has made an unrivaled contribution to the visual arts. His portraits are instantly recognisable as carrying an imaginative and personal character.

In addition to new work, Bailey’s Stardust also features a range of images from across the photographer’s career, spanning more than 50 years. The curated pieces capture the individuals and groups he has been fascinated by, including photographers, actors, writers, musicians, filmmakers, fashion icons, designers, models, artists and people encountered on his travels. His distinctive works record the true personality of his subjects, making them interesting and memorable. Shooting both the famous and the unknown, Bailey will be making new silver gelatin prints of his black-and-white portraits especially for the exhibition.

Curated thematically, the exhibition presents iconic images along with many lesser-known portraits. The range of rooms feature contrasting ideas, covering a wide variety of sitters – from the glamorous to the impoverished, the famous to the notorious. The stark images of skulls and pregnancy produce powerful meditations on birth and death. There will also be rooms dedicated to Bailey’s travels in Australia, Delhi and the Naga Hills, as well as icons from the worlds of fashion and the arts, and people of the East End of London.

Within the stunning range of images, there will be selections from two of the photographer’s most acclaimed bodies of work: the Box of Pin-Ups, which helped define the 1960s through studies of key figures, and Bailey’s Democracy, in which people visiting his studio were asked if they would agree to be photographed naked. The arresting portraits of The Rolling Stones and Catherine Bailey stand in stark contrast to the remarkable documentary photographs from his expedition to Papua New Guinea in 1974 and also those taken in Africa in support of the Band Aid charity in 1985.

Bailey’s Stardust, sponsored by Hugo Boss, 6 February – 1 June, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE.

All images courtesy of David Bailey and the National Portrait Gallery.
1. Jerry Hall & Helmut Newton, 1983.
2. Kate Moss, 2013 resized.

Kate Moss, 2013 resized