Defying easy categorisation, the photographer Lewis Morley (1925–2013) was by turns fashion photographer, portraitist, and documentarian. Although he spent most of his life overseas, growing up in Hong Kong to English and Chinese parents, and emigrating to Australia in 1971, he is perhaps best remembered for the portraits he made of ‘Swinging Sixties’ Londoners.
The National Portrait Gallery mounted a major retrospective of Morley’s work in 1989. In the years that followed, the artist gave the Gallery more than three hundred prints from his archive, most of around 14 x 11 in (356 x 279 mm) or smaller. Just prior to his death, Morley made a series of oversized photographs of some of his most famous works, with the express wish that they be shown at the Gallery. Four are appearing now, according to his wishes, for the first time.
Included in the display are sensational portraits of the brilliant, ill-fated playwright Joe Orton, and two portraits of model Christine Keeler, whose suggestive erotic pose straddling a wooden chair became one of the defining images of the 1960s.
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