Janette Beckman

Janette Beckman's Latest Monograph Captures Four Decades of Culture

Lifelong photographer and force of nature Janette Beckman released her sixth and most comprehensive book of her forty-year career earlier this month. Rebels: From Punk to Dior catalogs her beginnings in the Seventies in London as a street photographer to her transition to the East Coast in the Eighties, photographing artists who are now preeminent cultural icons like Sting, Run-DMC, Paul Weller, Salt-N-Pepa, Belinda Carlisle, Slick Rick, all of whom also contributed words alongside designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Dapper Dan and Kim Hastreiter, the co-founder of Paper Magazine.

While working for The Face after completing art school, Beckman photographed the punk scene, mods, and other subcultures that were emerging from the underground around her. When a hip hop revue came to Victoria Station in London, Beckman volunteered to photograph it. Graffiti artists, rappers, DJs, and breakdancers were a revelation to her. “They looked so different from punks," she recalls. "These people looked so fresh, they had brand new sneakers on,and cool coats and hats and chains.”

Janette Beckman's Latest Monograph Captures Four Decades of Culture

Beckman herself is still in awe at the impressive breadth of her career. She photographed Salt-N-Pepa before they even had a record contract. After that changed, she took their portraits again, this time styled by Harlem legend Dapper Dan. Beckman reflects on figures like Dior's Chiuri and André 3000 in a way that is highly personal, but equally with a kind of excited disbelief that she ever shared space with them. The proof is in her pictures: “It really is about respecting people and who they are, and being curious about who they are and what they are.”

Beckman took a characteristically no-frills, eager approach in developing Rebels during the Covid lockdown when she sent in a questionnaire about her artist’s practice to her eventual publisher, Drago. Working over Zoom and by tacking hundreds of prints to the wall of her studio, Beckman pieced together a collection of work. “I wanted the book to show the progress through all these different subcultures, and my own obsession," she explains. "I wanted to just express.” Much of Beckman’s work is the antithesis of the fast-moving, nearly infinite content we have today. It is of the past, but it is also the future.

Click through the gallery below to see more. Rebels: From Punk to Dior is out now.

Janette Beckman's Latest Monograph Captures Four Decades of Culture

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