Brian Duffy’s “Scary Monsters & Super Colour Creeps” photograph
Brian Duffy, English (1933 – 2010)
Duffy was one of the three photographers who defined the look of London’s ‘Swinging Sixties’. Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan they were affectionately named by Norman Parkinson as the ‘Black Trinity’ and were elevated to celebrity status and known only by their surnames.
Duffy attended St. Martins School of Art was enrolled in an art course but quickly realized that his contemporaries were more talented and he switched course to dress design. This held him in good stead throughout his photographic career as he understood 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 1970’s, however, he always claimed that he did his best fashion work with French Elle where his creative and artistic freedom was allowed to flourish. When the Sunday Magazines were established Duffy was a frequent contributor as well as continuing his work with all the major British and US glossy magazines.
The surrealistic Benson & Hedges advertisements in the late 70’s and the groundbreaking Smirnoff campaign won Duffy acclaim and awards. The concepts that were established then are still utilized 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 top 100 most influential photographers of all time and well thought of as a ‘photographer’s photographer’.