Brian Duffy was one of the three photographers who defined the look of London in the 1960s. Duffy’s cutting-edge photography documented the vibrancy of the new “Swinging 60’s” scene when the city was at the height of cool. Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, they were affectionately named by renowned photographer Norman Parkinson as the ‘Black Trinity.’ The ‘Black Trinity’ were some of the first photographers elevated to celebrity status, known only by their surnames, placing Duffy in the photographic history books as one of the UK’s most respected photographers
Duffy was born in London in 1933. He attended St. Martins School of Art and was enrolled in an art course but quickly realized that his contemporaries were more talented. Duffy then switched focus to dress design. This schooling held him in good stead throughout his photographic career, helping him understand the drape and fall of fabric and how to play with proportion. In 1957 Duffy started his photographic career at Vogue, a relationship that continued into the 1970s. However, he always claimed that he did his best fashion work with French Elle, where his creativity and artistic freedom flourished. When the Sunday Magazines were established, Duffy frequently contributed and continued working with major British and US glossy magazines. His photography gained notoriety through the surrealistic Benson & Hedges advertisements in the late ‘70s and the groundbreaking Smirnoff campaign, winning Duffy acclaim and awards. The artistic concepts established then are still utilized in the media today.
In addition to his fashion and portraiture work, Duffy is perhaps best known for his collaboration with David Bowie. He shot five sessions with Bowie. The most recognized is the Aladdin Sane album cover nicknamed the ‘Mona Lisa of Pop.’ In 2013 an image from the contact sheet was chosen as the lead image for the worldwide touring Victoria & Albert museum’s exhibition ‘David Bowie is.’
Duffy was an eclectic and innovative photographer and one of the few photographers to have shot three Pirelli calendars (the first in 1965 and two more in 1973 for different divisions.) Since the inception of the archive in 2008, Duffy’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and is highly collectible. Recently he was voted one of the 100 most influential photographers of all time and well thought of as a ‘photographer’s photographer.
SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS:
• Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
• Museum of Modern Art, NYC, U.S
• Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia, Florence, IT