|Andy's Not Dead. Warhol by Bailey (1965)|
The latest exhibition of David Bailey’s work brings together over 250 images from across the whole of his career so far, spanning more than 50 years.
Being Bailey portraits (and they are almost all portraits) one, for the most part, knows what to expect: lots of black and white shots against a plain white background. They are though stunning images and a great leveller; every person looks superb whether they’re Johnny Depp, a local hard-nut off the street, or a tattooed man with multiple piercings in his Prince Albert. Okay, Depp does look better; captured in 1995 he is almost impossibly handsome. I’d happily let Bailey take my portrait. I’m free most evenings and weekends Dave, although can’t do Saturday afternoons if QPR are at home.
The rooms are arranged in themes. The Rolling Stones are pleased to meet you on entry, including a few colour images: Jagger from Goat’s Head Soup and a grinning Charlie Watts riding a donkey (a different shot to the cover of Get Yer Ya Yas Out!). There are also Black and White Icons (not sure I’d apply the word icon to Phil Collins, Action fan or not); Fashion Icons and Beauty; Hard Men; Box of Pin Ups; East End; and room devoted to his wife, Catherine.
Less familiar are the ones from his travels to Delhi, Papua New Guinea and Naga Hills. A selection taken with a mobile phone only seems to highlight its limitations and aren't especially interesting but Bailey's recent sculptures are. A bronze Dead Andy, with Warhol's sunken face made with baked beans and topped with a shock of white/blue hair rising out of a tin of beans, is pretty funny and more surprising.
It's a steep £14.50 admission but that didn't put off any of the hundreds of people there on a Monday afternoon.
Bailey's Stardust is at the National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square, WC2 until 1 June 2014.