Over the past 50 years, photographer Terry O’Neill has been responsible for some of the most iconic images of the beautiful and the famous. Think Raquel Welch on a crucifix, a windswept, cigar-smoking Brigitte Bardot and enough up-close Elton snaps to fill a book (which he did). Now some of his most recognisable prints have been unveiled in a whole new light: refashioned and reinterpreted by some of today’s top artistic talent, as part of Terry O’Neill: Reworked.
O’Neill has not been precious and protective over his work. He explains: “I have been looking at my photographs for decades and they’ve become very familiar to me. What I love about this collaboration is having young artists with a fresh eye interpreting iconic images for a new generation. I am excited to see what they do and why they do it.
“For me, there is nothing so rewarding as working with new talent and fresh ideas.”
Original O’Neill prints are on show alongside the new versions, updated by the likes of noted tagger Curtis Kulig, hyper-real pen artist James Mylne and James Marshall (aka Dalek), who favours complex patterning.
The results are largely complementary, the artists adding to rather than detracting from the originals. Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp’s status as defining figures of the Swinging Sixties is strengthened by Pam Glew’s Union Jack overlay. Mick Jagger’s gentlemanly portrait is adorned by grabbing hands in Daniel Lumbini’s collage.
There is a certain irony in updating O’Neill’s work for an era in which celebrities are media-managed and mollycoddled to within an inch of their lives, as it is his ability to capture his subjects so intimately that remains the star. But the inspired Reworked exhibition may introduce new generations to the timeless work of a British great.
Terry O’Neill: Reworked runs until 31 March at Rook and Raven gallery, 7-8 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1HN. Open Tuesday-Friday 11-6.30, Saturday 11am-5pm
The original photographs: