David Hamilton (photographer)
Hamilton in 2011
15 April 1933|
25 November 2016 (aged 83)|
|Cause of death||Suicide (asphyxiation)|
|Occupation||Film director, photographer|
David Hamilton (15 April 1933 – 25 November 2016) was a British photographer and film director best known for his photography of young women and underage girls, mostly in the nude. His signature soft focus style was called the "Hamilton Blur", which was achieved by smearing Vaseline on the lens of his camera. Hamilton's images became part of an "art or pornography" debate.
In October 2016, French presenter Flavie Flament accused him of raping her in 1987, when she was 13 years old. In November 2016, French magazine L'Obs published anonymous accounts from three other former models claiming to have been raped by Hamilton. Hamilton issued a statement threatening legal action against his accusers and affirmed that he didn't do anything wrong. On 25 November 2016, he was found dead in his Paris apartment by apparent suicide.
Hamilton was born in 1933 and grew up in London. His schooling was interrupted by World War II. As an evacuee, he spent some time in the countryside of Dorset, which inspired some of his work. After the war, Hamilton returned to London and finished his schooling.
Career and later life
His artistic skills began to emerge during a job at an architect's office. At age 20, he went to Paris, where he worked as graphic designer for Peter Knapp of Elle magazine. After becoming known and successful, he was hired away from Elle by Queen magazine in London as art director. Hamilton soon realised his love for Paris, however, and after returning there became the art director of Printemps, the city's largest department store. While Hamilton was still employed at Printemps, he began doing commercial photography, and the dreamy, grainy style of his images quickly brought him success.
His photographs were in demand by other magazines such as Réalités, Twen and Photo. By the end of the 1960s, all of Hamilton's photographs appeared to have been snapped as if through a hazy mist. His further successes included dozens of photographic books with combined sales well into the millions; five feature films; countless magazine displays and museum and gallery exhibitions. In December 1977, Images Gallery—a studio owned by Bob Persky at 11 East 57th Street in Manhattan—showed his photographs at the same time that Bilitis was released. At that time art critic Gene Thornton wrote in The New York Times that they reveal "the kind of ideal that regularly was expressed in the great paintings of the past". Hamilton has said that his work looks for "the candor of a lost paradise". In his book, Contemporary Photographers, curator Christian Caujolle wrote that Hamilton worked only with two fixed devices: "a clear pictorial intention and a latent eroticism, ostensibly romantic, but asking for trouble". In 1995 Hamilton said that people "have made contradiction of nudity and purity, sensuality and innocence, grace and spontaneity. I try to harmonize them, and that's my secret and the reason for my success". Besides depicting young women, Hamilton composed photographs of flowers, men, landscapes, farm animals, pigeons and still lifes of fresh fruit. Several of his photographs look like oil paintings. Most of his work gives an impression of timelessness because of the absence of cars, modern buildings and advertisement boards. In 1976, Denise Couttès explained Hamilton's phenomenal success on page 6 of The Best of David Hamilton. His images, she wrote, "express escapism. People can only escape from the violence and cruelty of the modern world through dreams and nostalgia".
His soft focus style came back into fashion at Vogue, Elle, and other fashion magazines beginning around 2003. Hamilton had been in a relationship with Mona Kristensen (b. 1950)[when?], a model in many of his early photobooks who made her screen debut in Bilitis. Later, he married Gertrude, who co-designed The Age of Innocence,, but they divorced amicably.
Hamilton divided his time between Saint-Tropez and Paris. He had been enjoying a revival in popularity since 2005. In 2006, David Hamilton, a collection of captioned photographs, and Erotic Tales, which contains Hamilton's fictional short stories, were published.
At the time of his death, Hamilton was working on another book, Monography of Montenegro. As of 2017[update], the book is about to be realised. He was working with Jelica Bujic, who was his first and last photography assistant.
Much of Hamilton's work depicted early-teen girls, often nude, and he was the subject of some controversy including child pornography allegations, similar to those which the work of Sally Mann and Jock Sturges have attracted. For moral reasons, several of Hamilton's books were banned in South Africa.
In the late 1990s, conservative Christian groups in America unsuccessfully protested against bookstores selling Hamilton's photography books. As Chris Warmoll, writing for The Guardian in 2005, commented, "Hamilton's photographs have long been at the forefront of the 'is it art or pornography?' debate."
In 2005, a man in the UK was convicted for being in possession of 19,000 images of children, including photos by Hamilton. The images were found to be in the lowest indecency rating. In response, Glenn Holland, Hamilton's spokesman, said: "We are deeply saddened and disappointed by this, as David is one of the most successful art photographers the world has ever known. His books have sold millions".
In 2010, a man was convicted of level 1 child pornography for owning four books, including Hamilton's The Age of Innocence as well as Still Time by Sally Mann, which he purchased from a bookstore in Walthamstow, London. His conviction was overturned on appeal in 2011, with the judge calling his conviction "very unfair" and criticising the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for prosecuting him. The judge concluded that "If the [CPS] wishes to test whether the pictures in the books are indecent, the right way to deal with the matter is by way of prosecuting the publisher or retailer – not the individual purchaser."
Sexual assault allegations
On 22 October 2016, Thierry Ardisson, the host of the French talk-show Salut les Terriens! on TNT C8 channel, named Hamilton as the alleged rapist of now radio RTL presenter Flavie Flament. According to Flament, the acts were committed in 1987 when she was 13 years old, in Cap d'Agde, a naturist resort in Hérault, southern France. She mentions them in her novel La consolation, a romanticised story based on her alleged life experiences. After Flament publicly identified Hamilton, the book led to Hamilton being exposed as an alleged predatory paedophile. Flament's brother has called certain revelations in her book into question. On 22 November 2016, Hamilton issued a statement threatening legal action against his accusers. When contacted by the French press agency AFP, Hamilton declared that he was not to blame. "I didn't do anything wrong," he affirmed, while confirming only that he took a portrait of Flament, "29 or 30 years ago". Flament put the portrait on the cover of La consolation.
On 17 November 2016, the weekly news magazine L'Obs published anonymous accounts by three other former models who claimed to have been raped by Hamilton. One day later, Flament confirmed that Hamilton was the rapist whom she had not identified in her book.
On the evening of 25 November 2016, Hamilton’s cleaning lady entered the apartment of the 83-year-old photographer at 41 Boulevard Montparnasse in southern Paris and found him dead with a plastic bag over his head and medications close at hand. After learning of Hamilton's death, Flament issued the following statement: "By his cowardice, (Hamilton) condemns us again to silence and the inability to see him convicted. The horror of this news will never wipe out that of our sleepless nights". The autopsy revealed that asphyxiation was the cause of death. Suicide is the leading hypothesis in the investigation.
- Dreams of a Young Girl, 1971
- Sisters, 1972
- La Danse (1972)
- Galeria Old Home (1974, Private)
- The Best of David Hamilton (1976)
- Private Collection (1976)
- Bilitis (1977)
- Souvenirs (1978)
- The Young Girl (1978)
- Secret Garden (1980)
- Tender Cousins (1981)
- Silk Wind (1982)
- A Summer in St. Tropez (1983)
- Jun Miho (1983)
- Homage to Painting or Images (1984)
- Maiko Minami (1987)
- Venice (1989)
- Flowers (1990)
- Blooming Minayo: 28 September (1992)
- Twenty Five Years of an Artist (1993)
- The Fantasies of Girls (1994)
- The Age of Innocence (1995)
- Harem: Asami and Friends (1995)
- A Place In The Sun (1996)
- Holiday Snapshots (1999)
- David Hamilton (2006)
- Erotic Tales (2007)
- Souvenirs (1974)
- Flower Girls (1979)
- Shadows of a Summer (1979)
- The White Pebble (1980)
- The Great Silver Photography (1984)
- Bilitis (1977)
- Laura: Shadows of a Summer (1979)
- Tender Cousins (1980)
- A Summer in St. Tropez (1983)
- First Desires (1984)
- "UK photographer David Hamilton dies, aged 83". BBC News. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
- Hamilton, David (1993). Twenty Five Years of an Artist. Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-85410-266-9.
- "Photographer David Hamilton found dead in Paris". The Guardian. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
- Hinton, Perry (11 April 2016). "Remembrance of things past: The cultural context and the rise and fall in the popularity of photographer David Hamilton". Cogent Arts & Humanities. Taylor and Francis. 3. doi:10.1080/23311983.2016.1164930. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
- David Hamilton, photographer known for nude images of girls, dies at 83, The New York Times, 28 november 2016
- Hamilton, David (1995). The Age of Innocence. Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-85410-304-8.
- "Censored publications – Hamilton, David". Beacon for Freedom of Expression. National Library of Norway. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Barnes & Noble Vows to Stock Art Books Despite Indictments". The New York Times. 20 February 1998.
- Warmoll, Chris (14 July 2005). "Hamilton's naked girl shots ruled 'indecent'". Culture. The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 February 2005.
- Sheerer, Hans. "Child Pornography Conviction Tossed For Possessing Books Available on Amazon.com". Justice Denied. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- Oates, John (24 February 2011). "Conviction overturned for abuse images bought from bookshop". The Register. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- "Judge criticises CPS for prosecuting man for pictures available in bookshops". The Daily Telegraph. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "David Hamilton, le photographe des jeunes filles en fleur, est accusé d'avoir abusé de Flavie Flament".
- "Une époque où l'on faisait poser nues des ados". 25 November 2016.
- BFMTV. "Flavie Flament violée, qui est David Hamilton le photographe accusé ? (vidéo)".
- "Affaire Flavie Flament: David Hamilton, agresseur présumé et photographe amateur de jeunes filles dénudées". 24 October 2016.
- "Acusan al fotógrafo David Hamilton de violar a las protagonistas de sus desnudos". 20 October 2016.
- Roca, Mireya (23 October 2016). "David Hamilton, retratado por la sospecha".
- "Viol de Flavie Flament : le photographe David Hamilton se défend".
- "David Hamilton, le photographe accusé par les internautes d'avoir violé Flavie Flament s'explique".
- Détienne, illustration Augustin. "Le frère de Flavie Flament remet en cause certaines révélations de son livre".
- "British photographer David Hamilton found dead in Paris, as his alleged rape victims say he has escaped justice".
- "Alleged rape victim 'horrified' after death of photographer David Hamilton". Sky News. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
- "Accusé de viol, David Hamilton veut porter plainte contre Flavie Flament".
- "David Hamilton, le chasseur de jeunes filles". L'Obs (in French). Retrieved 2016-11-27.
- Louis, Paul (2016-11-17). "Après Flavie Flament, trois nouvelles accusations de viol contre le photographe David Hamilton". Le Figaro (in French). ISSN 0182-5852. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
- "Affaire Flavie Flament : d'autres femmes accusent David Hamilton de viol". L'Obs (in French). Retrieved 2016-11-27.
- Suicide de David Hamilton, la piste du suicide privilégiée par les enquêteurs, La Parisienne, 26 november 2016
- Suicide de David Hamilton: le rapport d’autopsie a parlé, Gala, 28 november 2016
- David Hamilton, photographer celebrated as artist and condemned as pornographer, dies at 83, The Washington Post, 30 November 2016
- "British photographer David Hamilton found dead in Paris".
- "David Hamilton, mort d'un photographe controversé | PM". PM (in French). 2016-11-26. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
- Controversial photographer Hamilton committed suicide in Paris, police say, France 24, 26 November 2016
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