Con­tro­ver­sial Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Hamil­ton dies

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Con­tro­ver­sial Bri­tish fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher David Hamil­ton, 83, was found dead in his Parisian home Fri­day, emer­gency ser­vices sources said, just weeks af­ter be­ing ac­cused of rape by sev­eral for­mer child mod­els. Hamil­ton, known for his widely pub­lished nude im­ages of un­der­age girls, was found in a state of car­diac ar­rest an in­formed source said, adding there was med­i­ca­tion near his body. He was de­clared dead an hour later. Hamil­ton, who rose to fame in the 1970s and whose pho­tog­ra­phy books have sold mil­lions of copies, this week threat­ened to sue his ac­cusers, say­ing he had pre­vi­ously been cleared of abuse.

The artist, whose work has long raised ques­tions about where art ends and pornog­ra­phy be­gins, was at the cen­tre of a raft of al­le­ga­tions af­ter a French ra­dio pre­sen­ter ac­cused him of rap­ing her when she was 13. Flavie Fla­ment, who mod­elled for Hamil­ton al­most 30 years ago, pub­lished an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel last month in which she told of be­ing raped by a fa­mous pho­tog­ra­pher dur­ing a shoot.

Although she did not name Hamil­ton in “The Con­so­la­tion”, she used his pho­to­graph of her as the book’s cover. Fla­ment, 42, later told French me­dia that it was Hamil­ton who had raped her af­ter three other women con­tacted her with near iden­ti­cal al­le­ga­tions. Fla­ment said Hamil­ton raped her in the shower of his apart­ment af­ter spot­ting her in a nud­ist re­sort at Cap d’Agde in south­west France where she was on hol­i­day with her par­ents.

Hamil­ton con­firmed Fla­ment had been his model, but de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, telling AFP on Tues­day: “I have done noth­ing im­proper.” “Clearly the in­sti­ga­tor of this me­dia lynch­ing is look­ing for her 15 min­utes of fame by de­fam­ing me in her novel,” he said, adding that he would take le­gal ac­tion.

Fla­ment’s ed­i­tor Ka­rina Hocine told AFP Fri­day the ra­dio pre­sen­ter was “dev­as­tated” by the news of Hamil­ton’s death. “Nat­u­rally, we feel hor­ri­fied and, at the same time, re­ally dis­gusted that there was not enough time for jus­tice to run its course,” she added.

“The hor­ror of this news will never erase the sleep­less nights,” Fla­ment told AFP, re­it­er­at­ing her al­le­ga­tions.

Hamil­ton has said that his work looks for the “can­dour of a lost par­adise”, and is most fa­mous for his kitschy cal­en­dars of young girls and his soft­fo­cus erotic films in­clud­ing “Bili­tis” from 1977. He was born in Lon­don in 1933 and stud­ied ar­chi­tec­ture as a young man, but it was in Paris where he first started to work in fash­ion, hav­ing moved there aged 20 in­spired by the im­pres­sion­ist painters.

He first worked as a de­signer at Elle mag­a­zine and then as an artis­tic di­rec­tor at the lux­ury Le Prin­temps de­part­ment store. With no for­mal train­ing in pho­tog­ra­phy, he found his call­ing aged 33, seek­ing his mod­els in the streets and on the beaches. He be­came known for his trade­mark “Hamil­ton blur”, his pho­tos of­ten bathed in a very dis­tinc­tive artis­tic vague­ness. His pho­tos’ sub­dued light, bluish tint and young girls, of­ten blonde, blue-eyed and crowned with flow­ers, were fash­ion­able in the 70s and 80s but the style be­came seen as passe in later decades, and his pic­tures were con­sid­ered dis­turb­ing by some. Un­der the French statute of lim­i­ta­tions, charges must be brought within 20 years for rape and 10 years for sex­ual abuse. How­ever, in a twist, the French min­is­ter for chil­dren’s and women’s rights asked Fla­ment to head a body which will look at whether to ex­tend the statute of lim­i­ta­tions. — AFP

PARIS: French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande at­tends the han­dover cer­e­mony of the Fran­co­phonie pres­i­dency be­tween Sene­gal and Mada­gas­car dur­ing the 16th “Som­met de la Fran­co­phonie” (Sum­mit of French-speak­ing coun­tries) yes­ter­day.—AFP

Bri­tish fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher David Hamil­ton

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