Thursday, 26 June 2014


John Deakin
Vendome Press, New York, 1998
Portrait of John Deakin by Luke Kelly, 1970
A few weeks ago I visited an exhibition of the work of John Deakin at the Photographers Gallery in London. Deakin is well known as Francis Bacon's Soho drinking associate, verbal punchbag, and creator of photographs that served as sketch material for some of Bacon's strongest paintings. I have admired his work for many years and this was the first occasion I have had to see a selection of work exhibited. Not a big show but enough to stimulate and satisfy.
Prunella Scales, 1954

His work reproduces well, as the images here attest, but seeing the original prints up close one truly perceives the marvelous skill with which they were created, every pore of his subjects' skin exposed for scrutiny.
Kenneth Tynan, 1952

Dylan Thomas, 1950
The portrait and fashion work is only part of the story as he was also an undervalued recorder of street life, following in the tradition of French photography, in particular Brassai, whose images of Paris graffiti - 'The Language of the Wall' - proved an inspiration for Deakin.

Rome, 1950s
Paris, 1950s

Paris, 1950s

Paris, 1950s
His incomplete or neglected photobook 'London Walls' would have been a great addition to his portfolio, but alas no publishers were interested and so the project atrophied with Deakin's terminal alcoholism.

No comments:

Post a Comment