Queen magazine, 1963
Although you’ll all have long since forgotten that I promised to review the fantastic Duffy book (published by ACC. RRP £45 but currently £31.98 on Amazon.co.uk), I certainly haven’t and it’s been rather weighing on my mind. In fact, I’m troubled by the fact that I rarely seem to have the energy to type long, rambling blog posts at all these days.
So, as I often do, I will largely leave the photographs to do the communicating. Which is rather the point of the book itself. It is not a weighty tome about the life of the man, rather it is a weighty tome about the talent of the man. The talent which made him world-famous, but eventually left him feeling so trapped he had to [pretty much literally] destroy it in order to escape it. Page after page of gorgeous women, swinging dudes of the highest and lowest order and generally Interesting People. But it also covers the later period, the advertising and the selling-out, or ‘prostitution’ as he honestly described it.
I have to admit, I’m always on the look out for new Duffy shoots in my magazines because I’m almost rather bored of seeing the same ones shown again and again. And to be fair, of course, in Duffy’s case there is the genuine problem with the complete lack of original source material. His son Chris has spent years reassembling the archive, and I have to respect the labour of love that this project has become. Thankfully, the book is more varied than the exhibition I attended earlier this year would lead you to believe. I have scanned a few of my personal favourites, which I hope will communicate the beauty of his work.
A pet hate must be noted at this point, which is that these books rarely identify the designer of the clothes worn in the pictures. I know it doesn’t seem like much to a non-clothes obsessive, but I want to know if that dress really was by so-and-so and I find it infuriating for such information to be left out when surely it must be known?
Obviously, luxuriously printed and sized books such as this require the highest calibre of image quality for reproduction purposes, but it would be nice, in a few years time, to see a book which features more obscurities, more magazine tear-sheets and clippings; covering the lesser-known styles and techniques he used. For there are many. I mean, David Bailey has had enough books about him to last a lifetime; Brian Duffy certainly deserves another one.
Definitely one for the Christmas list. And watch out, because I’m going to be reviewing more books to put on your Christmas list over the next few weeks. Yes indeed.
Amanda Lear, 1971
Jean Shrimpton, Vogue 1962
Average White Band album cover, 1979
Michael Sarne, 1962
Pierre La Roche, Aladdin Sane make-up artist, 1973
Alphasud Car, Henley on Thames, 1974
Mike Henry and Nancy Kovack, 1964