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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Harold Chapman: A Retrospective 1947-2007

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Harold Chapman
A Retrospective 1947-2007

Born in 1927 in Deal, a seaside town in Kent, Chapman automatically gravitated toward that town’s artistic milieu. He originally wanted to be a painter, but in his words, he "was no good at it," and so he began taking photographs instead: "I was astounded by all the strange things and people I used to see about me."
"If Chapman were merely a chronicler in a great documentary tradition, his achievement would be impressive enough. His lustrous landscapes of the Herault valley in the Languedoc, his priceless record of the Beat Hotel, his omnivorous, year-on-year transcription of daily life and its little undercurrents, would ensure his reputation as a photographer of the first rank. But it was constructive paranoia that made him an artist."
Booker Prize winning British novelist, Ian McEwan, wrote in an article about Harold Chapman entitled "A spy in the name of art", which was published in the Saturday Review of the Guardian. (April 2000)
Harold Chapman is still always working as a Photographer, taking photos and living up to his credo manifested in a pointed statement during an interview in December 1968:
"...there is no need for the contrived shot. Pictures are everywhere. So why set up a photograph when the natural one is infinitely better?" He added: "I am photographing for the future, not for the present... All I aim for is to record the trivial things that ordinary people use and consider unimportant."
This exhibition concentrates on his, frequently humorous, street photography and his studies of the Beat community in Paris and London in the 1950s and 60s. The 1963 juxtaposition of the poster for the film "Le Scandale Christine Keeler" showing the seductress with her legs akimbo over a street drain is full of meaning and wit to those that understand British politics of the 1960s. 



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