A Maverick Eye “The Street Photography of John Deakin”
John Deakins documentary photographs are haunting evocations of life on the streets of London, Paris and Rome in the 1950s and 1960s, yet he is the only person ever to have been hired and fired twice by the same editor at Vogue
His chief focus is on ordinary life. His pictures of people from dog walkers to nuns reveal an empathy to rival that of Doisneau and Brassaï. Equally intriguing are his depictions of life with the participants gone: a vanished vernacular of chalked-up childrens games, of graffitied messages of love or anger, street signs, peeling walls and shop-front banners signals from another age.
Here is a far broader range of photography than that on which Deakins reputation rested in his lifetime. But the creative souls and maverick talents that frequented the streets of Soho in its heyday Francis Bacon, and Lucian Freud among them make their appearance along with anonymous figures and faces from Paris and Rome.
Both friends and stars appear in Robin Muirs introduction, which describes both Deakin the man and Deakin the artist. Though a legendary drinking companion in artistic circles, he was not universally popular, yet he was admired by his circle and greatly respected for his originality.
After his death in 1972 Deakin’s work lay neglected for a number of years and his reputation dwindled. This book restores him to his proper place as one of the great photographers of the postwar period.