cover image Cecil Beaton: A Retrospective

Cecil Beaton: A Retrospective

Cecil Beaton. Little Brown and Company, $35 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8212-1632-3

This catalogue of a British exhibition of Beaton's work comprises three parts: articles on various aspects of his art; full-page color plates; and a catalogue listing. The essay writers discuss Beaton's love of theatricality and artifice and its evidence in his style: subjects posed in period costume, shot against or reflected in mirrors, the photographer's own reflection visible in a photo, ironic and sometimes severely unflattering angles. Even his wartime photos have the oddly displaced quality of a stage set. The full-size color plates here are disappointingly few in number; the book's other sections are themselves well illustrated with photos, though these are smaller and black-and-white. Many of the same pictures also appear in Beaton in Vogue (see review above), where they are generally reproduced in larger size; this volume is perhaps more useful as commentary than for basking in Beaton's art. (September)