In January 1962, still in his early twenties, David Bailey fulfilled a dream that dated back to his years in Singapore, serving in the Royal Air Force. Heading to the USA, home of the jazz musicians that had inspired him and the source of his original ambition to be a trumpet-player, Bailey was on his first foreign trip for Vogue, together with his model and girlfriend, Jean Shrimpton. The impact of the early Bailey/Shrimpton collaborations set new standards that helped put Britain back on the world map of popular culture. And the attack on the generational chasm Bailey spearheaded is underlined by the warning he was given that, as a representative of Vogue, he was not to wear his leather jacket in the St Regis Hotel. (Of course he ignored the advice). The ground-breaking series Bailey photographed in wintry New York with his recently acquired 35mm camera was special. He immortalised his excited response to the freedom it allowed, the licence to quit the confines of the studio and shoot rapidly on the streets.
These photographs occurred at that pioneer moment, shortly before Bailey, who was already alert to Pop Art, met Andy Warhol, and a year before his friends the Rolling Stones first launched their own transatlantic invasion. Bailey's historic visual breakthrough is manifested in the energy of these images, yet at the same time they convey a certain innocence the photographs of these absolute beginners have a charm and freshness that continue to resonate today.show more