Celebrated British photographer David Bailey is swapping his camera for a paintbrush. Known since the swinging Sixties for his iconic black and white portraits of The Beatles, Peter Sellers, Michael Caine, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger and London gangsters, the Kray Brothers; and his decades of fashion work, Bailey’s new show of his paintings, his first ever, is titled “Hitler Killed The Duck.”
Bailey was interviewed by Dazed Digital’s Sue-Wen Q:
Can you tell us the story behind the great title, ‘Hitler killed the Duck’?
David Bailey: The Germans bombed the cinema that I went to see Bambi and cartoons in with a V2 rocket in 1944, so I thought Hitler had killed all the Disney characters.
People tend to be drawn to religion during those times, but you’re not religious are you?
David Bailey: Of course not. God’s just a daisy on the sidewalk. There are many good religions; I like Taoism because it’s more a philosophy. The Carthars were interesting. They were Christians who didn’t believe in killing and that nonsense and were wiped out by the Catholics. I’m completely against capital punishment, because you could get it wrong and that’s enough not to do it.
More than half this country will bring it back because they don’t think; they watch football and get drunk every other night. There’s not a chance many times they’ve made a mistake and the state’s part of you so in a way, you become the killer. Similarly, we’re responsible for Blair, because we - I didn’t, but I’m still part of society - voted him in. So we have to live with that arsehole.
Any final words with regards to the exhibition?
David Bailey: Whether you like or not, there’s nothing I can do. There might be people, whose collection or view on the world I dislike, that end up buying something. That would be sad. Imagine if Hitler or Bush or General Mao or Stalin came along and bought one. All the arseholes in history are famous, weird, isn’t it?
You can see a gallery of some of Bailey’s new paintings on Dazed Digital. I’m a big David Bailey fan (a first edition of his 1969 book Goodbye Baby and Amen that wasn’t cheap sits behind me as I type this) but from what I have seen of it, I must say this new work doesn’t do much for me. Bailey claims he was influenced by Francis Bacon, but all I can see is the influence of German weirdo painter Blalla W. Hallmann, who did this same sort of thing much better. Bailey should probably stick to his Rolleiflex.
“Hitler killed the Duck” from October 7th to November 12, 2011 at Scream, 34 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QX
Below, a delightful David Bailey interview from 2010: