Terence Donovan

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Terence Donovan (1936-1996) came to prominence in London during the 1960s as part of a post-war cultural renaissance in Britain. With David Bailey and Brian Duffy – photographers of a similar background and outlook – Donovan was perceived as a new force in British fashion photography.

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Works

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Liese Deniz, 24 November 1959 by Terence Donovan

Liese Deniz, 24 November 1959

Terence Donovan

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Claudia Cardinale, 1962 by Terence Donovan

Claudia Cardinale, 1962

Terence Donovan

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Julie Christie II, 1962 by Terence Donovan

Julie Christie II, 1962

Terence Donovan

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Tim Davies, Grove Road Power Station, London, 31 October 1960 by Terence Donovan

Tim Davies, Grove Road Power Station, London, 31 October 1960

Terence Donovan

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Tim Davies and Celia Hammond, Town Magazine, 1962 by Terence Donovan

Tim Davies and Celia Hammond, Town Magazine, 1962

Terence Donovan

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Terence Stamp on the set of John Schlesinger's 'Far From the Madding Crowd', Contact Sheet, 1967 by Terence Donovan

Terence Stamp on the set of John Schlesinger’s ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’, Contact Sheet, 1967

Terence Donovan

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Julie Christie, About Town Magazine, 14 May 1962 by Terence Donovan

Julie Christie, About Town Magazine, 14 May 1962

Terence Donovan

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Susan Davis, 24 August 1966 by Terence Donovan

Susan Davis, 24 August 1966

Terence Donovan

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Sophia Loren, May 1963 by Terence Donovan

Sophia Loren, May 1963

Terence Donovan

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Virginia Wynn-Thomas Wearing a Ronald Paterson Coat, 18 August 1959 by Terence Donovan

Virginia Wynn-Thomas Wearing a Ronald Paterson Coat, 18 August 1959

Terence Donovan

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Ros Watkins, Advertising Shoot for Acrilan, 3 March 1961 by Terence Donovan

Ros Watkins, Advertising Shoot for Acrilan, 3 March 1961

Terence Donovan

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Primrose Austin, Advertising Shoot for Oriane of Capri, 9 November 1962 by Terence Donovan

Primrose Austin, Advertising Shoot for Oriane of Capri, 9 November 1962

Terence Donovan

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Moyra Swan, Advertising Shoot for Woollands, 1965

Terence Donovan

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Tania Mallet, Fashion Shoot for Harper's Bazaar, 1 April 1964 by Terence Donovan

Tania Mallet, Fashion Shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, 1 April 1964

Terence Donovan

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Karen Jensen, Fashion Shoot for Queen Magazine, 4 March 1965 by Terence Donovan

Karen Jensen, Fashion Shoot for Queen Magazine, 4 March 1965

Terence Donovan

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Celia Hammond, Beauty Shoot for Queen Magazine, 12 September 1963 by Terence Donovan

Celia Hammond, Beauty Shoot for Queen Magazine, 12 September 1963

Terence Donovan

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Leslie MacLennan, Advertising Shoot for Vidal Sassoon, 21 June 1960 by Terence Donovan

Leslie MacLennan, Advertising Shoot for Vidal Sassoon, 21 June 1960

Terence Donovan

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Judy Dent, Beauty Feature for the Sunday Times, 25 April 1960 by Terence Donovan

Judy Dent, Beauty Feature for the Sunday Times, 25 April 1960

Terence Donovan

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Ros Watkins, Advertising Shoot for Acrilan, 3 March 1961 by Terence Donovan

Ros Watkins, Advertising Shoot for Acrilan, 3 March 1961

Terence Donovan

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Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet, London, 20 March 1959 by Terence Donovan

Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet, London, 20 March 1959

Terence Donovan

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Twiggy (Union Jack), 1966 by Terence Donovan

Twiggy, 1966

Terence Donovan

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Sophia Loren, May 1963 by Terence Donovan

Sophia Loren, May 1963

Terence Donovan

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Celia Hammond, Queen Magazine, 1963 by Terence Donovan

Celia Hammond, Queen Magazine, 1963

Terence Donovan

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Julie Christie, About Town, 14 May 1962 by Terence Donovan

Julie Christie, About Town, 14 May 1962

Terence Donovan

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Georgia Gold, Queen Magazine, 26 May 1964 by Terence Donovan

Georgia Gold, Queen Magazine, 26 May 1964

Terence Donovan

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Monica Vitti, October 1967 by Terence Donovan

Monica Vitti, October 1967

Terence Donovan

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Mary Quant, 1963 by Terence Donovan

Mary Quant, 1963

Terence Donovan

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Advertising Shoot For Terylene, 1960

Terence Donovan

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The Secrets of an Agent III, Men's Fashion for 'Man About Town', 1961 by Terence Donovan

The Secrets of an Agent III, Men’s Fashion for ‘Man About Town’, 1961

Terence Donovan

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Celia Hammond, circa 1966 by Terence Donovan

Celia Hammond, circa 1966

Terence Donovan

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Cindy Crawford, 1988 by Terence Donovan

Cindy Crawford, 1988

Terence Donovan

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Unknown Sitter, 1 May 1967 by Terence Donovan

Unknown Sitter, 1 May 1967

Terence Donovan

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Karen Jensen, Queen Magazine, 4 March 1965 by Terence Donovan

Karen Jensen, Queen Magazine, 4 March 1965

Terence Donovan

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Celia Hammond, London, 5 September 1962 by Terence Donovan

Celia Hammond, London, 5 September 1962

Terence Donovan

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Joanna Lumley, Fashion Shoot for Selfridges, 1966 by Terence Donovan

Joanna Lumley, Fashion Shoot for Selfridges, 1966

Terence Donovan

Early Life

Born into a working class family in East London, Donovan was fascinated by photography and printmaking from an early age. His professional photographic life started at the age of 11 with an apprenticeship at the London School of Photo-Engraving. He left at 15 to become a photographer’s assistant before opening his own studio in 1959 at the age of twenty two. He was immediately sought after by a range of clients, including leading advertising agencies and fashion and lifestyle magazines of the time, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.

Photographic Style

Part of a working class influx into the previously rarefied worlds of fashion, media and the arts, Donovan’s iconoclastic and sometimes irreverent photography established a new visual language rooted in the world he knew best – the streets of London’s East End. Taking his models to bomb-ravaged wastegrounds or balancing them off industrial building sites, his gritty style was more like reportage than fashion photography. He worked for some of the most progressive magazines of the time including Queen, Town and London Life and his images became emblematic of the era. Donovan both documented and helped create the much-mythologised culture of 1960s London, and was amongst the first wave of celebrity photographers, socialising with, as well as photographing, the actors, musicians, designers and models who came to represent the decade.

In the 1970s he concentrated more specifically on advertising photography and moving image work and by the 1980s much of his time was spent making award-winning television commercials and advertising campaigns alongside editorial work for cutting edge magazines and newspapers, most conspicuously the now-legendary Nova magazine. Donovan was also a pioneer of the pop promo, most famously directing the iconic and much-imitated video for Robert Palmer’s song Addicted to Love (1986).

Later Career

The late 1980s and early 1990s marked a return to stills photography, with Donovan revisiting black and white film; his preferred medium during the early years of his career. In 1996, Donovan was commissioned to capture the spirit of the age, photographing a portfolio of British musicians including Jarvis Cocker and Bryan Ferry for the ‘Cool Britannia’ issue of GQ magazine. This series, published in the December issue, proved to be his last significant body of work. Despite his famously wide-ranging and diverse interests, Donovan’s passion for photography remained undiminished throughout his long career. In 1963 he told a young Jean Shrimpton: ‘photography fascinates me. Instant fascination every time. When the fascination leaves me, I’ll give it up.’

Donovan was at work until he died in November 1996. The Royal Family, and in particular Diana, Princess of Wales formed part of the many commissions which he continued to undertake up until his death. Shortly before he died, he was appointed a Visiting Professor at Central St Martins School of Art.

Selected Exhibitions and Publications

A retrospective exhibition of his London photographs was held at the Museum of London in 1999 and a large-format anthology of his photographs, Terence Donovan, was published in 2000. In 2012 Terence Donovan Fashion was published, edited by Diana Donovan and David Hillman. His first major retrospective, Terence Donovan: Speed of Light, opened at the Photographer’s Gallery, London in July 2016.

Exhibition In Focus: Terence Donovan: The 1960s

Terence Donovan: The 1960s was an exhibition of over 30 vintage photographs from Terence Donovan’s early career. Charting Donovan’s career from 1959, when he opened up his first London studio, to the heights of his success throughout the 1960s, the exhibition revealed how he helped to redefine photography and shape the aesthetic of London’s ‘Swinging Sixties’.

Related

Notes, News, Press and Exhibitions

Sophia Loren, May 1963 by Terence Donovan

Press

Il Post: The Sixties by Terence Donovan

Terence Stamp on the set of John Schlesinger's 'Far From the Madding Crowd', Contact Sheet, 1967 by Terence Donovan

Press

The Guardian: Sex, style, sharp suits | Donovan’s swinging 60s – in pictures

Susan Davis, 24 August 1966 by Terence Donovan

Press

AnOther Magazine: A List of Great Things to Do This July

Notes

Terence Donovan: The Contact Prints

Sophia Loren, May 1963 by Terence Donovan

Press

The Eye of Photography: Terence Donovan | The 1960s – Vintage Prints from the Archives

Exhibitions

Terence Donovan: The 1960s
Vintage Prints from the Archive

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