With a career spanning over six decades, photographer James Barnor is a renowned figure in the history of photography. The Ghanian creative’s lenses have witnessed and immortalised important societal events. In his home country, Ghana, his studio in Accra was where black and white portraits were taken against the backdrop of a nation preparing to claim its sovereignty.
Besides being a portraitist, Barnor was a photojournalist and photographed prominent figures such as Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first leader following its independence; Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent; and Vice-President Richard Nixon among others. In the 1960s, Barnor relocated to London, where he pursued future studies in photography and settled down, and during this period, he was also contributing to Drum magazine. His contribution to the magazine helped to reconceive the standard for the delicate representation of Black beauty, grace and style.
At 93, he’s still young at heart and is involved in photography. For the new exhibition of Saint Laurent Rive Droite stores in Paris and Los Angeles, creative director Anthony Vaccarello invites Barnor to showcase a selection of photographs with the support of Galerie Clémentine de La Féronnière.
These images, in black and white and colours, serve as symbols of a vivid and fascinating Afro-modernism and offer an unexpected window into a strikingly contemporary and beautiful visual world. About 20 photographs will be exhibited in either of the Saint Laurent Droite locations such as “RUM MODEL”, “LONDON, C.1965-1966” or “DRUM COVER GIRL ERLIN IBRECK”, “KILBURN, LONDON,1966”. A catalogue of the exhibition will be available in the stores as well.
In addition to the exhibition, Barnor will be joined by fellow photographer Campbell Addy, and they will discuss various topics. From the former’s first steps into photography, his take on fashion imaging, his approach to black and white versus colour film, and the importance of passing knowledge to future generations, the duo’s conversation can be watched below.
Like Barnor, Addy is a Ghanaian-born British photographer. Addy, born in 1999, acknowledged James as his moral and artistic role model. Their connection is mutually enriching, and a beautiful example of the generational dialogue Barnor so poetically describes.
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