Intimate Photos of David Hockney, Ossie Clark, and More Artists Are on View in London

LONDON — The latest show at Lyndsey Ingram is an invitation to time-travel back to a freewheeling era of non-stop smoking, lounging in the Saint-Tropez sunshine, and wandering around exotic places, from Italy to Benin to Udaipur.

Ingram’s show “Kasmin’s Camera” is a collection of more than 100 photographs by the London gallerist and dealer John Kasmin, who was shooting his arty clients and friends, including David Hockney, Bruce Chatwin, Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Anthony Caro, Frank Stella and Helen Frankenthaler, at a time of feverish creativity in the ’60s and ’70s.

More from WWD

It was a time when gallerists spent long stretches of time with their artists — eating, drinking, smoking, and traveling the world together — and Kasmin documented it all. With or without the wives, lovers and kids in tow, it was clear they were having a grand old time.

David Hockney’s dachshund, with a set design in the background, c. 1991.
David Hockney’s dachshund, with a set design in the background, c. 1991.

Until now, the photos were kept — impeccably — in family-style albums at Kasmin’s London home. The dealer, who will turn 90 later this year, went through them one-by-one alongside Ingram. They chose their favorites, dusted off the negatives, and the show — which runs until Aug. 16 — was born.

It’s the first time these images have been seen together in a public show format, and it’s about time the world gets to see them. They have the intimacy of family photos, are delightfully unpolished — and sometimes even comical.

Celia Birtwell posing for the artist Patrick Procktor.
Celia Birtwell posing for the artist Patrick Procktor.

Kasmin has never been a professional photographer. When he was younger, he assisted the portrait photographer Ida Kar, but that was it. Despite his lack of training, the photos are rich with detail, color and quirky perspective.

Boy, did he get close to his friends. There’s a shot of Hockney, one of the Kasmin Gallery’s earliest artists, with his sunglasses on and a cigarette in hand, passing his California driver’s test in 1964. Kasmin took the shot from the passenger seat of the car.

Another picture shows Hockney’s dachshund resting his cinnamon brown head on an aqua green sofa, and another shows Hockney posing in a doorway of the Maharaja of Udaipur’s palace in the late ’70s.

With a wink of irony, Kasmin loved getting Hockney to pose for him, asking him to paint still lives of eggs or leeks when they were all on holiday together. He would also snap Hockney in various poses at his many gallery openings.

Hockney isn’t the only star of the show. There are lovely, moody shots of Chatwin the novelist, travel writer and adventurer, wandering through Haiti, posing with a python — and a priestess — at her shrine in Benin, and shot against the backdrop of a mountain range in Namibia.

A shirtless Peter Schlesinger in Saint-Tropez looks like he stepped straight out of a Luca Guadagnino film, while Birtwell was snapped smoking a joint, dressed in her bikini and sarong, as she poses for the artist Patrick Procktor.

Niki de Saint Phalle c. 1964
Niki de Saint Phalle c. 1964

Ingram was one of just a few people who could have put on a show so personal, of family, friends and moments glamorous and banal.

“He’s an amazing seer of things, and he taught me how to look,” says Ingram during an interview at her gallery on Bourdon Street, not far from Kasmin’s first gallery. Ingram has known Kasmin for years and he has long been a mentor to her.

“This is a man who is most famous for being involved in the avant-garde movement of the ’60s and ’70s, but he sees the same quality in a Renaissance painting that he would have seen in the paintings he was showing in his gallery,” she says, adding that Kasmin collects works across centuries and categories, and still trades and travels widely.

She’s known Kasmin and his family since she started in the art business, and usually spends Sunday nights with him, watching films old and new on his movie projector. “He’s fascinated by cinema and was appalled at my lack of cinema knowledge,” she says with a laugh.

Ingram says he gave her great freedom over the show’s curation and it was an education for her. “The pictures are very much of their time,” she says, pointing to all of the interiors shots and backdrops — the insides of galleries, trains, planes and travel lounges.

She points to a picture of Hockney (there are a lot of them here) lying on a bench with his head propped against an ashtray stand at the Kasmin Gallery in 1965.

David Hockney in the Kasmin Gallery during the Kenneth Noland exhibition in 1965.
David Hockney in the Kasmin Gallery during the Kenneth Noland exhibition in 1965.

The pictures in the show are being printed and framed to order in limited runs of 25, at a cost of 950 pounds each.

Ingram says the most popular so far include Hockney asleep at Dubai airport, Hockney in the Maharajah’s doorway in Udaipur, and the artist with Betty Freeman in front of his painting of her as “Beverly Hills Housewife,” from 1967.

These images may be of their time, but Ingram believes they are much more than that. She says they reinforce her belief “that good pictures transcend time.”

Best of WWD