Barbara Mullen shot in India by Norman Parkinson for Vogue, 1956
The National Theatre is marking the centenary of fashion photographer Norman Parkinson’s birth with a small but well formed exhibition, exploring all aspects of a diverse career that spanned seven decades. Parkinson is regarded as one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, remembered for taking fashion photography out of the confines of the studio and placing it on a far wider stage – the rest of the world. As Jerry Hall recounted to Nicola Roberts (director of BBC Four programme about the photographer’s life), “he had a sense of “big” – you know, big spaces – he would choose panoramic views and had a great sense of movement across the page…”
Parkinson favoured glamour almost as much as exoticism and was responsible for many iconic Vogue covers. However, the exhibition avoids an over-reliance on these, instead focusing on the photographer’s portraits (subjects varied from Dame Barbara Cartland to David Bowie, Princess Anne, Mick Jagger and Ava Gardener) and his less-familiar editorial efforts. These make up some of the strongest images – The Young Look in the Theatre, shot for Vogue in 1953, includes a collection of emerging actresses – including Natalie Wood set against the geometric confines of a gymnasium’s apparatus.
Wenda Parkinson by Norman Parkinson for Vogue, 1951
The Young Look in the Theatre by Norman Parkinson, 1953
Pamela Minchin by Norman Parkinson, 1939
Audrey Hepburn by Norman Parkinson, 1955