Vintage photos capture the spirit of Swinging London

CNN  — 

The Swinging Sixties have been revived in London, thanks to a new exhibition of rare photographs from one of the generation’s most prominent – and controversial – fashion photographers.

“Sixties Style: Shot by Duffy” at London’s Proud Central gallery brings together 30 images from the archive of Brian Duffy. Along with his friends (and fellow East Londoners) David Bailey and Terence Donovan, Duffy, who died in 2010, defied the conventions of fashion photography, bringing models out of the studio and into the streets for magazines like British Vogue, French Elle and Esquire.

He took a similar approach to his celebrity portraits, capturing stars like Michael Caine, John Lennon and Jane Birkin in states of ease and exuberance.

brian duffy jane birkin

Gallery director Amy Thornett called his archive “the perfect portrayal of the Swinging Sixties.”

“From Jean Shrimpton to Grace Coddington, Michael Caine to David Bowie, Duffy captured each personality with a playful and commanding duality, challenging the typical notions of a studio portrait,” Thornett said in an email, adding that he recorded “modern Britain during a significant period of social and cultural transformation.”

However, this divergence from the norm earned Duffy and his cohort their share of critics. Society photographer Cecil Beaton called them the “The Terrible Three,” while Vogue photographer Norman Parkinson dubbed them the “Black Trinity.”

In spite of the backlash, Duffy would go on to shoot some of the most memorable photos of the decade, including the now iconic cover art for David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” album, for which the artist had a red-and-blue lightning bolt painted across his face.

“Sixties Style: Shot by Duffy” is on at Proud Central in London until March 18, 2018.