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At the beginning of the Second World War the Ministry of Information, through the advice of Kenneth Clark, commissioned Cecil Beaton to photograph the Home Front. Beaton set to work recording the destruction of the Wren churches in the City and the heroism of Londoners under attack. He conducted a survey of Bomber and Fighter Commands for the RAF, which was published with At the beginning of the Second World War the Ministry of Information, through the advice of Kenneth Clark, commissioned Cecil Beaton to photograph the Home Front. Beaton set to work recording the destruction of the Wren churches in the City and the heroism of Londoners under attack. He conducted a survey of Bomber and Fighter Commands for the RAF, which was published with Beaton's own astute commentary. Beaton was an effective propagandist, but his voice, like his photographs, was touchingly elegant. Whatever his subject, Beaton was always a stylist. Beaton's wartime work for the Ministry amounted to seven thousand photographs, which are now housed with their negatives at the Imperial War Museums. They form a great document both of the landscape of war and of the passing of the Empire. He travelled through the Western Desert and on to Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan and Syria. In 1943 he left for India where he photographed the final days of the Raj in New Delhi and Calcutta before joining the Burma campaign. He ended the war deep in Chinese territory where he witnessed the Nationalist resistance to the Japanese. Beaton's inherent sense of theatre extended from palatial drawing rooms to the jungle and the desert. Whatever the circumstances he never departed from his radical aesthetic. Theatre of War is published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museums on the occasion of a major exhibition.


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At the beginning of the Second World War the Ministry of Information, through the advice of Kenneth Clark, commissioned Cecil Beaton to photograph the Home Front. Beaton set to work recording the destruction of the Wren churches in the City and the heroism of Londoners under attack. He conducted a survey of Bomber and Fighter Commands for the RAF, which was published with At the beginning of the Second World War the Ministry of Information, through the advice of Kenneth Clark, commissioned Cecil Beaton to photograph the Home Front. Beaton set to work recording the destruction of the Wren churches in the City and the heroism of Londoners under attack. He conducted a survey of Bomber and Fighter Commands for the RAF, which was published with Beaton's own astute commentary. Beaton was an effective propagandist, but his voice, like his photographs, was touchingly elegant. Whatever his subject, Beaton was always a stylist. Beaton's wartime work for the Ministry amounted to seven thousand photographs, which are now housed with their negatives at the Imperial War Museums. They form a great document both of the landscape of war and of the passing of the Empire. He travelled through the Western Desert and on to Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan and Syria. In 1943 he left for India where he photographed the final days of the Raj in New Delhi and Calcutta before joining the Burma campaign. He ended the war deep in Chinese territory where he witnessed the Nationalist resistance to the Japanese. Beaton's inherent sense of theatre extended from palatial drawing rooms to the jungle and the desert. Whatever the circumstances he never departed from his radical aesthetic. Theatre of War is published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museums on the occasion of a major exhibition.

39 review for Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    In 1942-44, Vogue fashion photographer Cecil Beaton was enlisted as a military photographer. Beaton was keen to make a meaningful contribution to the war even though too old to fight and, in any case, "I would have made a sad sack as a soldier." His natural eye for beauty and visual drama, normally used to photograph high-society women, turned him into one of the most celebrated war photographers of WW2. He fearlessly clambered through the rubble of recently bombed and unstable buildings in Lond In 1942-44, Vogue fashion photographer Cecil Beaton was enlisted as a military photographer. Beaton was keen to make a meaningful contribution to the war even though too old to fight and, in any case, "I would have made a sad sack as a soldier." His natural eye for beauty and visual drama, normally used to photograph high-society women, turned him into one of the most celebrated war photographers of WW2. He fearlessly clambered through the rubble of recently bombed and unstable buildings in London's east end to capture the shots he wanted and documented the resilience of Londoners facing such devastating destruction. Impressed, the Forces sent him around the world, notably North Africa and India to record military life during the war but also to RAF bases and Royal Navy ships. Even in the midst of such difficult circumstances, Beaton's eye for beauty, harmony and rhythm prevail, as does the undeniable homoeroticism in the photos of handsome young men, many of whom were dead soon after being photographed as Beaton records in his notes. These are deeply poignant and moving images. Beaton returned to a highly successful career in fashion photography and writing but I believe he never surpassed this WW2 achievement.

  2. 4 out of 5

    A M Davies

  3. 5 out of 5

    Miss M

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    Cata

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    Elizabeth

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    Kevin

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    Norgri

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    Christopher Keller

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    libraryfacts

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jan

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    Flaubertian

  34. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Beeman

  35. 5 out of 5

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  36. 4 out of 5

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  37. 4 out of 5

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  38. 5 out of 5

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  39. 4 out of 5

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