Xerjoff Magazine

Cecil Beaton’s Golden Youth


The exhibition “Bright Young Things” focuses on Cecil Beaton’s early days, high society and avant-garde, artists and writers, socialites and revelers are the milieu that he has portrayed.

An exhibition at the London’s National Portrait (St. Martin’s Pl, Charing Cross) celebrates the debut of one of the world’s greatest international photographers, Cecil Beaton. the exhibition entitled “Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things” was inaugurated in the midst of a pandemic and then interrupted, and now it can be streamed on the museum’s website (www.npg.org.uk/whatson/cecil-beaton-bright-young-things/exhibition), accompanied by the curator Robin Muir who tells it with these words: “This is a way to bring back to life an eccentric delusional, fascinating and creative era. The era of the English cultural life which intertwined high society and avant-garde, artists and writers, socialites and revelers, all to the rhythm of jazz”. It is the beautiful world of the Bright Young People, the circle of young aristocrats and intellectuals who lived in London between the two wars, to attract the attention of the young Beaton, a universe he becomes part of and which he immortalizes with his photographic stain, despite his bourgeois origins.

Photography, however, is not the only mean he uses to express his overwhelming creativity: Beaton is in fact also a painter, set designer, writer, illustrator (when he was 23 years old he joined the editorial staff of Vogue, a magazine where over the years he established himself as a master of portraits and fashion photography, until the last editorial published in 1979). He was also a costume designer and artistic director in films such as “Gigi” by Vincent Minnelli and “My Fair Lady” by George Cukor. However, the years, lived between dandyism, cinema, fashion, culture and nobility, made him realize he was first of all a photographer. The exhibition focuses on the 20’s and 30’s, and it features 150 works (including images and drawings), many of which have been rarely seen, coming from collections including the Cecil Beaton’s Studio Archive of Sotheby’s. The exhibition’s itinerary is completed by paintings by artists from his circle, letters, magazines, sketches and book covers.

Above: Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast, 1948