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Bardot Pouts, Lennon Smiles in Photos Saved From Blaze: Review

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Photographer: Brian Duffy/Duffy Archive/Idea Generation Gallery via Bloomberg. Taken from ``Duffy,'' published by ACC Editions, (c) Duffy Archive

Brigitte Bardot's portrait by Brian Duffy in Mexico in 1965. London's Idea Generation is holding an exhibition of Duffy's work.

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Photographer: Brian Duffy/Duffy Archive/Idea Generation Gallery via Bloomberg. Taken from ``Duffy,'' published by ACC Editions, (c) Duffy Archive

Brigitte Bardot's portrait by Brian Duffy in Mexico in 1965. London's Idea Generation is holding an exhibition of Duffy's work. Close

Brigitte Bardot's portrait by Brian Duffy in Mexico in 1965. London's Idea Generation is holding an exhibition of Duffy's work.

Photographer: Brian Duffy/Duffy Archive/Idea Generation Gallery via Bloomberg. Taken from ``Duffy,'' published by ACC Editions, (c) Duffy Archive

David Bowie's album sleeve of "Aladdin Sane'' in 1973. In the book "Duffy," its photographer Brian Duffy says "I do remember seeing the first contact sheets of the head and shoulders and realizing we had a knock out image on our hands.'' Close

David Bowie's album sleeve of "Aladdin Sane'' in 1973. In the book "Duffy," its photographer Brian Duffy says "I do... Read More

Photographer: Bryan Duffy/Duffy Archive via Bloomberg. Taken from ``Duffy,'' published by ACC Editions, (c) Duffy Archive

Model Jean Shrimpton in a Brian Duffy magazine photo in 1963. London's Idea Generation Gallery hosts a show of his work through Aug. 28 and ACC editions has published a book of his work. Close

Model Jean Shrimpton in a Brian Duffy magazine photo in 1963. London's Idea Generation Gallery hosts a show of his... Read More

Photographer: Brian Duffy/Duffy Archive/Idea Generation Gallery via Bloomberg. Taken from ``Duffy,'' published by ACC Editions, (c) Duffy Archive

Michael Caine poses for a portrait by Brian Duffy in 1964. London's Idea Generation is holding an exhibition of Duffy's work. Close

Michael Caine poses for a portrait by Brian Duffy in 1964. London's Idea Generation is holding an exhibition of Duffy's work.

Source: Idea Generation/ copyright Duffy Archive, via Bloomberg.

Debbie Harry of Blondie poses for a magazine photo by Brian Duffy. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at Idea Generation Gallery in London. The first book devoted to the work of Duffy is published by ACC Editions. Close

Debbie Harry of Blondie poses for a magazine photo by Brian Duffy. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at Idea Generation... Read More

Photographer: Brian Duffy/Duffy Archive/Idea Generation Gallery via Bloomberg. Taken from ``Duffy,'' published by ACC Editions, (c) Duffy Archive

John Lennon photographed by Brian Duffy in 1965. The photographer said "he was just like any nice, normal, intelligent person." Close

John Lennon photographed by Brian Duffy in 1965. The photographer said "he was just like any nice, normal, intelligent person."

Source: Idea Generation/ copyright Duffy Archive, via Bloomberg.

Arnold Schwarzenegger poses in 1977 for a portrait by Brian Duffy. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at Idea Generation Gallery. The first book devoted to the work of Duffy is published by ACC Editions. Close

Arnold Schwarzenegger poses in 1977 for a portrait by Brian Duffy. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at Idea Generation... Read More

Source: Idea Generation/ copyright Duffy Archive, via Bloomberg.

William Burroughs poses by his typewriter for a portrait by Brian Duffy in 1974. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at Idea Generation Gallery. The first book devoted to the work of Duffy is published by ACC Editions. Close

William Burroughs poses by his typewriter for a portrait by Brian Duffy in 1974. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at... Read More

Source: Idea Generation/ copyright Duffy Archive, via Bloomberg.

The group Black Sabbath poses for a publicity photograph by Brian Duffy in 1973. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at Idea Generation Gallery in London. The first book devoted to the work of Duffy is published by ACC Editions. Close

The group Black Sabbath poses for a publicity photograph by Brian Duffy in 1973. ``Duffy'' runs to Aug. 28, 2011 at... Read More

Photographer: Trevor Leighton/Idea Generation Gallery via Bloomberg

Brian Duffy, the U.K. photographer known as "the man who shot the 1960s,'' in a portrait by fellow lensman Trevor Leighton. Close

Brian Duffy, the U.K. photographer known as "the man who shot the 1960s,'' in a portrait by fellow lensman Trevor Leighton.

Brigitte Bardot pouts and unsuccessfully tries to look demure wearing a pink dress and flowery hat. Christine Keeler romps naked. Opposite them, John Lennon flashes a schoolboy grin, David Bowie closes his eyes and Michael Caine looks intrigued by his cigarette.

These photographs of what sounds like a fun party crowd feature in a new book and the first full retrospective showcasing the work of Brian Duffy, who died last year.

Some of these images are ingrained in pop culture: the LP sleeves for Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” (David with lightning-flash makeup), “Lodger” (as a kooky accident victim) and “Scary Monsters” (in an even odder clown’s outfit).

There’s a Duffy quote under the pictures describing Bowie as “just a guy who liked dressing up.” The 1965 Lennon portrait is annotated that the Beatle “was like any nice, normal, intelligent person.”

Duffy -- he was always known by the single name, long before the unrelated singer -- chose to be a dress designer at London’s St. Martin’s School of Art because that was the subject favored by the most attractive girls. His first photographic assignments fell flat: The lights failed and he left the lens cap on the camera.

Undaunted, he took the first shots of Jean Shrimpton -- one of the faces of London’s Swinging 1960s -- looking into an Edgware Road shop front. Duffy matured into a fashion photographer who worshiped his models and wanted them to look like they owned the clothes. He was soon in demand by Elle, Vogue, Town, Queen and other magazines.

Portrait Trinity

As his range widened to portraits, he was often compared with his fellow East End pals Terence Donovan and David Bailey. They were called “the Black Trinity” by the older Norman Parkinson. Duffy might have eclipsed them all had he not quit the business in 1979.

Some of these photos are remarkable because they are so strong and yet unknown -- not surprising as many went up in smoke in Duffy’s very own “bonfire of the transparencies.” He was at height of his career and at the end of his tether.

“He had come into the studio one morning,” Duffy’s son Chris, himself a photographer, recalls in an interview. “An assistant told him, ‘We’ve run out of toilet paper.’ That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He just snapped at that point and fired everyone and grabbed packets of negs and prints and set a bonfire in the garden.”

Surreal Vodka

Bailey happened to call in, Chris says. “Bailey said, ‘I’ll look after them for you if you want,’ and Duffy said, ‘Don’t bother,’ and continued to burn them.” (Bailey has famously noted that Duffy and aggravation went together like gin and tonic.) The fire was stopped as neighbors complained about the black acrid smoke.

Duffy became a furniture restorer and died of pulmonary fibrosis aged 76. His son has spent years in a search for lost material. He had a messy pile of negatives, contacts and prints and says that items are still coming to light.

Some of the best images are the surreal advertisements for Benson & Hedges (a cigarette packet turns into a caged bird) and Smirnoff vodka (a U-boat emerges in a swimming pool above the slogan “well, they said anything could happen”).

One of Duffy’s favorite shots, done for French Elle in 1977, is wonderfully subversive. Duffy takes three top models, sporting expensive hairdos and makeup, and chooses to largely hide their heads behind branches of a tree.

There are unlikely portraits: William Burroughs stares into the camera. Gangster Reggie Kray playfully spars with his grandfather. Duffy even manages to make the U.K. Prime Minister Harold Wilson look cool. In these digital times you need Photoshop. In quotes in the book, Duffy says that photos are both real and unreal, they tell the truth and they lie.

“A photograph has to capture a moment,” he says, “incite a curiosity in what was happening the moment it was taken.”

“Duffy” is at Idea Generation Gallery, 11 Chance St., London E2 7JB, through Aug. 28. Open weekdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; weekends 12 p.m.-5 a.m. Limited-edition prints are for sale. Information: +44-20-7749-6850, http://www.ideageneration.co.uk or http://www.duffyphotographer.com.

“Duffy… In His Own Words” (208 pages) is published by the ACC Publishing Group in the U.K. priced 45 pounds and will be come out in the U.S. in September at about $85. Information: http://www.accpublishinggroup.com/

Duffy’s work is also on show at Gallery Vassie, Langestraat 47, 1015 AK, Amsterdam, until Aug. 20. See http://www.galleryvassie.com/current_exhibitions-1

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/Mark_Beech

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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