The Burberry Brit 2016 fragrance campaign. Photograph: PR company handout
Models are arguably the best people to tale pictures of models. The most beautiful and moving photographs are often documents of a particular world, taken by denizens who move in those circles. Nan Goldin's pictures of her circle of intimate Lower East Side friends are some of the most moving portraits in recent art because she is recording a way of life that surrounds and addicts her.
Brooklyn Beckham is no Nan Goldin, but there is still nothing inherently wrong with a teenage model who happens to have famous parents being asked to shoot Burberry's latest campaign. He is not the first model to go behind the lens. The great Lee Miller went from fashion model to heroic war photographer. But Beckham is no Lee Miller, either. In fact, it is hard to make any meaningful comparison of his work with any good photographer because his pictures for Burberry have zero artistic distinction.Models in the Burberry Brit Fragrances Campaign. Photograph: PR company handout
In each image, young men and women are juxtaposed clad in the very height of fashion and looking very lovely, in a slightly bland way. These pictures may be highly effective. There are probably plenty of people who want to look like these people, and hope a new bag might do it.
As art, however, these photographs do not exist. Fashion has produced many of the most artistically gifted photographers. The apparently simple job of taking nice shots of models in jeans or jewels has inspired artists as different and yet equally brilliant as Helmut Newton and Juergen Teller.
What a Newton or a Teller have in common is edginess and danger. They turn fashion photography into an imaginative theatre where beauty, desire, power and voyeurism electrify everything – a sense of danger taken to horrific extremes in the film The Neon Demon.
There is none of that with Brooklyn. To call his photographs a bit tame is like saying a hamster is not a very fearsome animal. These pictures have no bite and no drama, and nothing to say. They don't even exhibit the banality of evil or of kitsch – just banality lite. Where is the anger of youth? It has been sprayed away with expensive eau de cologne.
Is it really this boring to be Brooklyn Beckham? That may be some consolation to photographers who despair of ever getting such a gig. His beautiful people need to wake up.
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