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Ian David Baker Jonathan Anderson cult photographer
Stefan (1979), selected by Jonathan AndersonPhotography © Ian David Baker

Jonathan Anderson teams up with a cult gay photographer

The designer is selling a personally-curated selection of Ian David Baker’s prints on his website – he explains his fascination

Considering his photographic collaborations with the likes of Larry Clark (a limited edition booklet, entitled The Smell of Us and released earlier this year) and Steven Meisel (with whom he repurposed a 1997 Vogue Italia shoot for his debut Loewe campaign), Jonathan Anderson’s latest venture perhaps isn’t so surprising. “I am a huge obsessor with photography,” the designer admits, today announcing his newest project – a sale of rare and unseen prints from the archives of British photographer Ian David Baker, curated by Anderson himself. 

“I first saw Ian’s work in a very small magazine booklet that I bought a long time ago,” explains Anderson of what got him interested in Baker, the London native best known for his evocative portraits of young men. “The images were incredible because I think they showed British culture in such an incredible way. It was very (focused) on the male form for a moment in time when gay culture maybe wasn’t as easy (to celebrate).”

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I used to do a feature called ‘Cruising Camera’ in Mister magazine, which was a gay pin-up magazine,” Baker told us last year, recalling shooting London in the 80s. “I used to walk up to people and talk to them and take their picture, and sometimes they performed for the camera and sometimes they didn’t. I’d spend so much time going back to places they said they’d be with contact sheets to give to people. Of course they were never there!” 

With all the prints in black and white (many of the negatives now lost), the sale features poetic male nudes, photomontages and a mixture of Baker’s more ‘safe for work’ imagery – urban and coastal scenes of Britain, like boys at the bowling alley or old women clustered on a pier. Alongside the undercurrent of desire in shots of young men lounging on beds, there’s also sharp flashes of the political, like photographs of early 80s gay pride marches – acts of defiance against a conservative media and government (and a growing AIDS crisis) that make Pride 2015 look like a corporate carnival.

“What’s so important with fashion imagery and with imagery in general is that it ultimately evokes an emotion,” summarises Anderson – and Baker’s work certainly succeeds at that.

All 50 prints on display will be available for purchase on www.j-w-anderson.com.