McBean, a singular talent in 20th-century portraiture, was known for his unique ability to incorporate surrealist elements into complex, highly crafted compositions in which no detail was left untouched. He immortalized celebrities from Laurence Olivier to the Beatles, his image of actress Vivian Leigh even appearing on a British postage stamp. Here, he immortalizes his studio assistant and longtime companion David Ball within a second silhouette--and silhouettes were a favorite formal theme for McBean. Ball was used by McBean in numerous images as an iconic male form. Casting him as such proved inspiring to a contemporary generation of homosexual artists like Robert Mapplethorpe.
Inscribed in ink on verso (possibly by Ball himself): "Just a line to say Happy Christ-mas + New Year I spy with my little eye, something trimmed with mink love, [D]Avid."
The Gernsheims were early collectors and strong fans of McBean's work, and he is highlighted in "The Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Center," University of Texas Press, Austin, 2010, page 300.
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Medium Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
Photo Date 1950 ca. Print Date 1950ca.
Dimensions 9.75 x 5.75 in. (248 x 146 mm)
Photo Country United Kingdom (UK)
Photographer Country United Kingdom (UK)
Charles Schwartz Ltd.