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In Memoriam : Jim Lee : Arrested

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Archive – September 19, 2012

Jim Lee – ‘Arrested’: 50 extraordinary years of the original wild child of fashion photography

Jim Lee, often referred to as England’s answer to Guy Bourdin – made himself a name with his fresh and illustrious take on fashion; the original wild child of fashion photography. Arrested is the biography of London-based photographer and film director Lee and traces his photographic development as well as his career in film and includes, among his most iconic photography, also many rarely seen images.

Lee was born in 1945 to parents who were both working in MI5 and his life has therefore followed anything but a conventional path. Lee possesses an independent spirit and at the young age of seventeen he decided to move to Australia where his interest and passion for photography sparked. Lee’s father pulled him out of the country a little bit later, to prevent him from fighting in Vietnam.

Back in the UK he began photographing bands such as The Who, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. His portfolio and reputation grew and Lee became in demand as a fashion photographer working with personalities such as Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour on shoots and collaborating with influential fashion designer such as Yves St Laurent and Gianni Versace.

In the late seventies, Lee turned to film directing and produced a great repertoire of more than 400 advertising campaigns for brands such as Levi’s, Elizabeth Arden, BMW and Shell as well as a the full-length feature film ‘Losing Track’ in 1992, starring Alan Bates.

But what really makes Lee’s work stand out, are the rich narratives and stories in the always beautiful and intriguing images. Lee was revolutionary in his time, his distinct gritty, photojournalistic style, which later on developed into ‘a romantic soft-focus frenzy’ as described by the photographer himself. He brought to the field of fashion and advertising photography strong, enchanting stories and narrative and therefore introduced a new form of visual expression, of which he became a pioneer. His photography often seems inspired by his own life, his narratives having a strong relationship with its own time, drawing to political events such as the Vietnam War or the Baader Meinhof events.

Lee’s photographic work has not only been displayed world wide in galleries and museums but is also in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Back in 2005 Nikon sponsored Lee’s first independent exhibition on the back of which Tim Jeffries, of the prestigious Hamilton’s Gallery, picked Lee up and continued to represent him to the present day.

Today Lee is an established art photographer but still collaborates on many advertising and fashion projects – for example covering fashion shows for celebrity designers such as Alexander McQueen and Zandra Rhodes. In the beginning of 2012 Lee’s work has been shown in London at Somerset House, to coincide with the launch of his biography ‘Arrested’ published by Ammonite Press. In Spring 2013 it will be shown at the Multi Media Art Museum in Moscow and the National Art Museum of China in Bejing.

Anna-Maria Pfab

Arrested has been published by Ammonite Press and contains a foreword by Barry Schwabsky.
288 pages – 250 photos
Dimensions: 370 x 300mm
ISBN-13: 9781907708121
Price: £75.00

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