Beaton in the Sixties


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Knopf, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New.


This compilation sets Beaton’s mesmerizing accounts in a wholly accessible format, illuminating an era still close, yet awesomely different from today. Beaton (1904–1980) was blessed with a breathtaking range of artistic talents (photography, painting, design, etc.), and he rose through English society to become portraitist of royalty, designer of famous theater and film sets (La Traviata ; My Fair Lady ; etc.) and a true Renaissance personality. In this version of his diaries, Beaton, though in intermittently poor health, is vibrant: smart, witty, labile and still seeking approbation. He presents the changing era through the prism of art, film, music and society. He’s charmed by the actor David Warner, surprised by the congeniality of Princess Grace of Monaco, wooed by the petulant and perturbing Greta Garbo (with whom he had a tortured affair), chilled by the cold intellect of Robert Oppenheimer, sniping about Rudolph Nureyev with George Balanchine, competitive with Truman Capote, and adoring of Audrey (and Katharine) Hepburn. This bitchy, gossipy entre nous peep into the upper strata of artistic, intellectual and moneyed circles at one of recent history’s most electric and tempestuous times is superb. Beaton sees all with an artist’s acuity, a photographer’s sharpness and the keen intuition of a writer with something vital to say. Prolific historian/biographer Vickers (Vivien Leigh ; Loving Garbo ; etc.) has spent 20 years researching Beaton, first in a biography (Cecil Beaton ), then in annotating Beaton’s diaries. His extensive, often clever or acerbic annotations on Beaton’s crowd complete an utterly delightful volume. 41 photos. (Nov. 4)

Review by Publishers Weekly