New Photo Exhibition On South Coast Features Iconic Photographs Of The London Blitz

Sep 15, 2016

Some new exhibitions at a South Coast museum looking at British art include a look at some dramatic photographs of London under fire during World War II, taken by a famous photographer best known for his glamour work.

“Cecil Beaton's London’s Honorable Scars: Photographs of the Blitz” features the work of the well-known British fashion and celebrity photographer who became a photojournalist to help document the war.

During an eight month period from the late summer of 1940, to the spring of 1941, Nazi Germany’s bombers attacked many of Britain’s cities, most notably London, in an effort to crush British morale, and force the nation’s surrender. The attacks killed 40,000 civilians, wounded more than 80,000, and destroyed a third of London, but the British held on, and the Germans eventually gave up the bombing campaign, and of course were defeated by the Allies in 1945.   The exhibition opening this week at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art will feature some iconic photographs from the Blitz, taken by Beaton who was best known for his fashion and celebrity photography.

Charles Wylie is the Curator of Photography, and New Media for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He put together the museum new exhibition.

They are some very famous, and some not so well known photographs made by Beaton. Many of the photographs show some iconic London landmarks which have been damaged by the bombing, or are framed by debris.

Beaton was an unlikely candidate to be a photojournalist, but felt it was something he could do to help Britain’s war effort. Perhaps the most famous of the shots is a picture of St. Paul’s Cathedral, as it is seen in the distance through a bombed out business and square.

Wylie says he hopes people coming to the exhibition will not just experience history turned into art, but see a well known celebrity photographer in a new light.

The exhibition is part of a British invasion of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, called “British Art from Whistler To World War II.” “London’s Honorable Scars: Photographs of the Blitz” opens Sunday, and runs through January 8th.