British don’t understand photography, says Bailey


David Bailey, the most famous portrait photographer of his age, has claimed that Britain does not understand photography — and cultural institutions do not give it the space that it deserves.

Bailey, one of the prime documenters of the Swinging Sixties, said that there had been a gap of almost four decades between appearances in major exhibitions. “I had an exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery with David Hockney and Gerald Scarfe in around 1969,” he told the Daily Mail, “and one there recently . . . I think I’ve had one picture in the Tate and not much more in the Royal Academy.

“It doesn’t really matter but then you get a thing like the Turner Prize for art, which gets everyone overenthusiastic for something with not much thought behind it, while photographers such as Don McCullin and David Montgomery haven’t received enough attention.”

Bailey, 78, who was rejected by the London College of Printing, said that other countries showed more appreciation. “The French, Germans and Americans were much quicker to understand photography than the English,” he said.

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Louis Graves

I like pretty things and making myself, and others, pretty. Long time dog mummy and lover of beauty. Come and join me in my world.