Exhibition Review: Yul Brynner - A Photographic Journey
|Audrey Hepburn in Venice, 1965 © Estate of Yul Brynner|
Better known for his roles in film and on stage, Yul Brynner also belonged to the small club of actors that maintained a photographic passtime throughout their careers. A Photographic Journey, curated by Brynner’s daughter Victoria, showcases some of these efforts, the focus typically being on some of the twentieth century’s most renowned film stars at work and leisure.
Victoria theorises that her father’s prolific output - some 8000 images in total - was his way of staying creative while working, having preceded his acting career with directorial roles. Indeed, the images go far beyond simple film stills or behind-the-scenes moments, showing Brynner’s deep appreciation for the scenery around him, human and otherwise.
This exhibition, at London's The Little Black Gallery, describes itself as intimate, and this is certainly true: comprising just 19 images, all taken within the space of 12 years, it isn't much of a journey (admittedly, the exhibition’s title is derived from the accompanying four-volume book series, whose scope is far greater). It does, however, include work which marries moments of spontaneity with creative merit: a portrait of Ingrid Bergman on the set of 1961's Goodbye Again brilliantly captures her playful yet shy, while another shows a beaming Frank Sinatra emerging from a helicopter, cocktail in hand.
Some of the more personal moments are reserved for Brynner's friend Elizabeth Taylor, while others take the focus away from friends and colleagues, and shift to Brynner’s surroundings. I can't help feeling though that as with some of the other portraits, much of this work falls into one of two camps: appearing either lacking in intention or, conversely, too contrived. This is a shame, as Brynner has created far stronger images, presumably omitted from this exhibition for the sake of maintaining a sense of cohesion with the other work.
If you’re in or around the Chelsea area in London this (free) exhibition is worth a visit, particularly as the gallery also plays host to a small, permanent collection of Bob Carlos Clarke’s work (whose wife co-founded the gallery following Clarke’s death). Prints and other media are also available for purchase.
Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey runs until 11 February, at The Little Black Gallery, London. For more information visit www.thelittleblackgallery.com