I visited the Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London last weekend. Beaton has two quite distinct sides to his work, fashion and war. Beaton always longed to be in the world of theatre, but it seems he was never quite good enough to fulfil his dreams, and increasingly turned to photography to make a small living. This turned into a prosperous career with him going on to shoot royal weddings and many celebrities of the era. However he now claims that his less known work as a war photographer is his most important body of work. During the Second World War he was stationed across parts of the Middle East and Asia to record the impact of war.
I found his work to be far more documentary than that of other well know war photographers like Don McCullin or Larry Burrows tending to record the people rather than the fighting and many of his photos still retain portrait like qualities. Beaton’s work is an interesting alternative to a lot of the images we’re probably more familier with from theatre’s of war. His interest in theatre and fashion come through with some of his shoots retaining quite a stylised and almost glamorous look.
The exhibition only runs until December 31st 2012, so you need to be quick if you do plan to see it.