Harry Benson. The Beatles and Beyond
Erarta Museum presented an exhibition by the Scottish photographer Harry Benson who created the iconic portraits of every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Donald Trump, as well as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, and other global celebrities
Photographer who worked with The Beatles in 1964–1966
Entire epoch in the American history
Snapshots full of movement, emotion, smiles, and humour
The bulk of the exhibition comprises photographs of The Beatles with whom Benson worked from 1964 to 1966. This period turned out to be pivotal and proved the most productive and successful in the entire career of ‘the Fab Four.’ Over a relatively short span of time, the band became a global music legend, and Beatlemania swept the world. Harry followed them around, photographing their concerts in France, documenting their first trip to the US and the appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and capturing a tour to the Netherlands and Denmark and the shooting of the first ever film starring The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night.
The Beatles’ inaugural tour to the US in 1964 also became a turning point in Benson’s life. Deciding to stay in America for good, the photographer went on to capture an entire era in the country’s history, from the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and Civil Rights Movement marches to some of the most important figures from the worlds of politics, cinema, music, and sports. The exhibition at Erarta showcases portraits created by Benson during the 1960s—1990s, including the famous Clintons’ Kiss, the dance of the Reagan couple, and Arnold Schwarzenegger thrusting out of the water.
Benson’s photographs reflect his own personality, bursting with action, emotions, smiles, and humour. ‘I want photos that are spontaneous. I’m after pictures . . . that let people be themselves. I don’t want to impose on them just what I think they are,’ comments the photographer.
With his energy, perseverance and curiosity, Benson always managed to collect unique material, and his reports were the first to appear on the pages and covers of such magazines as Life, Vanity Fair, People, TIME, Daily Express, and The New Yorker. Swift, always ready to take off and get involved in an adventure, Benson never shied away from challenges: ‘Too many photographers dance around the edges of a story,’ Harry likes to say. ‘They’re afraid of the center. I go for the heart of the story the minute I get off the plane.’
Harry Benson CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) was born on 2 December 1929 in Glasgow, Scotland, and currently lives between Wellington, Florida, and New York (USA). From 1964 to 1966, he worked closely with The Beatles. The famous ‘pillow fight’ photograph taken at the George V hotel room during their French tour became one of the most instantly recognizable images of the band.
Benson’s pictures appeared on the pages and covers of Life, Vanity Fair, People, TIME, Daily Express and The New Yorker. In 2014, he took the official photographic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II commissioned by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.