Inside a Huge New Book of David Bailey’s Timeless Portraits

Pin It
David Bailey SUMO Taschen Portaits
Andy Warhol, 1965© David Bailey

Bailey is the latest subject of Taschen’s ‘SUMO’ series, and over 300 of his portraits from the last 60 years are compiled in a mammoth new publication

Over the course of his 60-year career, David Bailey has trained his lens on an extraordinary roster of individuals: Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, Kate Moss, Salvador Dalí, Margaret Thatcher, Andy Warhol, Nelson Mandela and even HM Queen Elizabeth II – to skim the surface – have all been Bailey’s subjects. To celebrate such a lengthy and era-defining working life, what could be more apt than a publication of (literally) mammoth proportions? The latest of Taschen’s limited-edition series of ‘SUMO’ books is dedicated to Bailey’s portraiture, measuring in at 50 x 70 centimetres and weighing 50 kilograms. Published in an edition of 3,000 (with its price landing in the thousands too), The David Bailey SUMO brings together over 300 of the East End photographer’s iconic portraits, along with a foreword by artist Damien Hirst and an essay by critic Francis Hodgson.

Bailey’s work in photography has seen him travel the world and create groundbreaking images for the most esteemed fashion publications – he was shooting for Vogue at the age of 22, and his infamous antics as a young image-maker in 1960s London inspired the notorious Antonioni film Blow-Up – but his unique style of portraiture is the focus of this new book. Rendered in black and white and set against a stark white backdrop, Bailey’s portraits are recognisable for their striking silhouettes and an intimate focus on the subject’s face. Bailey seeks character in his shots, rather than thinking of appearance: “When I’m shooting, there’s actually very little photography happening,” he recently told Another Man. “It’s usually a case of a lot of talking and getting to know someone, and about ten percent actually picking up the camera. That just seems like common sense to me.”

The David Bailey SUMO is published by Taschen.