A few years ago i wrote a blog on David Hamilton. It gavce some information on Hamilton as an artist, but now there is an absolute must read on Hamilton which ws recently published by Mutual Art magazine. Here it is :
The controversial work of the British photographer has long been part of the “art or pornography?” debate, a question to which there are no apparent answers.
Dreamscapes of nubile girls in French fields and farmhouses, an age of innocence teetering on that of womanhood; flowers and the thin fabric of dresses, all seen through the gentle distortion of a soft-focus lens. David Hamilton’s filmmaking and photography are quintessentially 1970s, a product of a time in which society was granted more freedom to explore avenues which may have been previously unchartered. But in today’s period of political correctness, collective guilt and finger pointing, where does it leave the viewer and lover of art? Does the rapidly changing world around us force us to now think and feel differently in terms of aesthetical enjoyment? And do purported wrongdoings on the artist’s part come into play?
There is a warmth emanating within a lot of Hamilton’s photography; washed out light seeping into pastel colors, diffused and surreal. There is also a great gentleness to his work; the images are delicate, as if they exist only amid a slow-fading memory. Hamilton is a master in this sense, possessing the capability to create a world of fragile dream or recollection. It is the same feeling one gets when they conjure up the almost-ancient reminiscences of childhood summers; a time brimming with the possibilities of life, of warm, languid days, when time seems to stand still.
David Hamilton was born in London in 1933. During World War II he became an evacuee and spent time in the Dorset countryside, which would go on to influence his future work. At the age of twenty he moved to Paris where he worked as a graphic designer for Swiss fashion photographer Peter Knapp of Elle magazine. It was during this period that he began to make a name for himself. He returned to London to work as the art director for Queen magazine, but he soon returned to Paris. Back in the city he truly loved, he found work as art director for the city’s biggest department store, Printemps. Here, he started doing commercial photography on the side, and quickly gained success through his trademark grainy, dream-like style.
But with success the photographer also found defame. The public was either attracted or repulsed by the nudity and the subtle-not-so-subtle eroticism found in his images, and some critics summed up his work as trite. In the mid-90s, Hamilton stated that people “have made contradiction of nudity and purity, sensuality and innocence, grace and spontaneity. I try to harmonize them, and that’s my secret and the reason for my success.
While some have labelled David Hamilton’s work as pornographic, and some photographs are certainly erotic, numerous prints of his are almost completely devoid of sexuality. They are often platonic pieces, which aren’t intended to sexually arouse at all, similar to a nude cherub or statue. But his subjects are very real, which for the viewer can elicit a plethora of moralistic questions. Why was he posing young, semi-clothed girls in front of the camera? What exactly am I looking at here? Photography is a very poignant medium in this regard. With a painting, or a statue, there is some degree of removal between model and masterpiece — in capturing images on film there isn’t. The nude model is there before one’s eyes, the same as the artist looked upon amidst the throes of creation.Hamilton was an active photographer for most of his life, but after decades of shooting film and photography, sexual allegations began to surface, which he denied vehemently. Soon thereafter, he was found dead in his southern Paris apartment. An apparent suicide. In light of these allegations, is it our moral duty to have nothing more to do with Hamilton’s photography? Or is it acceptable to still appreciate the art? Do they even come into account at all? Afterall, the art hasn’t changed, only our perception of the artist, and what may have gone on behind the scenes. It is a difficult question, and one that only the individual can answer for him- or herself.
http://www.ftn-books.com has some David hamilton tiltles available