Thursday, 14 July 2011


In 1979, in a not uncommon fit of pique, and after an assistant had dare tell him he was out of toilet paper, Brian Duffy (known simply as Duffy) took his negatives and contact sheets in to his back garden and angrily set them on fire, incinerating twenty years of work. Along with contemporaries, competitors and drinking buddies David Bailey and Terence Donovan he had not only documented the Swinging Sixties but, through his innovative style and force of personality, helped shape it too. Bailey has since claimed the only thing the Black Trinity – as they were dubbed by Norman Parkinson – had in common was their working class backgrounds, but looking now at Duffy’s photographs it seems to me he was being more than a tad disingenuous.

That there are enough pictures to fill a new book and have an associated exhibition is down to the efforts of Duffy’s son Chris who has diligently assembled a collection from the archives of publications around the world. Fashion models, pop stars, actors and actresses, designers and gangsters all flaunt a confident, wealthy glamour, and if Duffy can squeeze in a Jaguar E-Type that’s all the better in my book. William Burroughs sitting in his Beat Hotel hovel is one of the few shots that contrast sharply, something that wouldn’t have been lost on either man.

The Idea Generation Gallery continues to show tremendous taste, with one hip exhibition after another; this is the latest in a long line. If you can get there, you should, but not everyone lives around the corner from their East End hideaway so you might need to get hold of the book, “Duffy”. Unfortunately it costs £45.

Duffy: A Visual Record of a Photographic Genius is at the Idea Generation Gallery, Chance Street, Bethnal Green, E2 until 28th August 2011, admission free. “Duffy” edited by Chris Duffy is published by ACC Editions.


  1. Oh his photos are great, so of the time. Thanks for the heads up on exhibition, I usually find out about things when it's too late... And what a beautifully written post too.

  2. Once again my jealousy creeps in as yet another cool expo on 60's cool rolls in on British soil and I will have to content myself with my yearly chat with Ian McLagan over a few pints..........