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Cecil Beaton. Celebrating Celebrity

The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, is delighted to present the exhibition «Cecil Beaton: Celebrating Celebrity», the first exhibition in Russia by of one of the greatest master-photographers of the 20th century, revealing his role as a forerunner of celebrity culture.

Presenting around one hundred photographic images made by Beaton throughout his career, it will feature some of his most celebrated works, as well as photographs that have never been seen before. Cecil Beaton’s (1904 – 1980) career spanned five decades, starting with his friendship with the ‘bright young things’ of the 1920s, moving on to serious images of fashion, theatre, ballet and the social scene in the 1930s. Then he became a war artist in the 1940s and from the 1950s onwards his career was crowned with the title of official photographer of the royal family of Great Britain.

Core to the exhibition concept is the history of photography and celebrity culture interweaving, seen through Beaton’s professional biography. He was born into a middle class family; being a ‘total self-creation’, as his friend Truman Capote once described him, he elevated to the upper echelons of British society with the help of his photographic talent and personal charm. Starting with photographing his own friends dressing up, he moved on to work for “Vogue” and “Vanity Fair”, made portraits of Hollywood stars and of royalty. He ensured a welcome in some of the most aristocratic and wealthy European houses. Not only was he invited to one of the most luxurious social events of the century, the Beistegui ball in Venice in 1951, but his work served as inspiration to such events: is was Beaton’s costume design for “My Fair Lady“ that inspired the chic “Black and White Ball“.