Thoroughly Modern: The pioneering life of Barbara Ker-Seymer, photographer, and her brilliant Bohemian friends - Sarah Knights; | Foyles Bookstore
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Thoroughly Modern: The pioneering life of Barbara Ker-Seymer, photographer, and her brilliant Bohemian friends
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Thoroughly Modern: The pioneering life of Barbara Ker-Seymer, photographer, and her brilliant Bohemian friends (Hardback)

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Today, Ker-Seymer's photographs are known for who they represent, rather than the face behind the camera. This irony is underpinned by the misattribution of some of her most daring and innovative images, to Cecil Beaton. This biography restores Ker-Seymer to her rightful position as an artist at the centre of the avant-garde. Moreover, it reveals a close network of like-minded practitioners across the arts. All shared a belief in a modern, stylistic unity between dance, theatre, design, music, art and photography. Ker-Seymer's intelligence, wit and genius behind a camera enabled her to link arms with the Surrealists, with Jean Cocteau, the Bloomsbury Group and Bright Young Things and most gloriously the worlds of theatre, cabaret and jazz.

This biography focuses on a closely-knit network of avant-garde artists, writers, designers and dancers who dominated the cultural landscape of twentieth-century Britain and beyond. At its centre, was Barbara Ker-Seymer (1905-1993), a pioneering photographer whose iconic images define this talented forward-looking generation. She disdained lucrative 'society' portraits in favour of modern, abstract images, and her portraiture broke with convention, emphasising light, angles and planes to convey the essence of her subjects.Her work was not only famous but widely admired among her peers, among them Man Ray. Paul Nash, artist and influential critic championed her work in print. She was the photographer of choice for the leading actors, artists, dancers, writers and intellectuals of her generation, who flocked to her studio, above Aspreys the Bond Street jewellers. Her sitters include Cyril Connolly, Evelyn Waugh, Margot Fonteyn, Jean Cocteau and Vita Sackville-West.

In contrast to the Bloomsbury Group, they did not hail from privilege or high academia - they were middle class or working class, and they earned their own living according to their merits. 'Sexual ambiguity was the rule. Sexual promiscuity and sexual aberration the mode [...] everyone seemed to be very androgynous or bisexual'. They lived in an era and occupied an arena where heterosexuality was not necessarily considered a virtue.

Sarah Knights has unprecedented access to private archives and hitherto unseen material and photographs will enliven this biography and bring Ker-Seymer's avant-garde vividly to life.

BiographyBiography: generalBiography: literary Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Publication Date: 26/01/2023 ISBN-13: 9780349011516  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Awaiting publication Pre-Order

Sarah Knights has an MA in Life Writing and a PhD from the celebrated School of Creative Writing and Literature at the University of East Anglia. She lives in North Norfolk.

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