Paris London Hong Kong — Picture Page

ChicagoArt & Culture

Ooh, Bettie!

Illicit archive reveals candid pin-up shots...

It seems pretty tame stuff in the age of internet “erotica”, but these photographs of pioneering pin-up Bettie Page were once deemed sexually explicit by a senate subcommittee during the USA’s McCarthy-era crackdown on, well, everything it seems. Don’t seem like a bunch of guys you’d have invited to a party, those McCarthyist senators.

Irving Klaw found his business – distributing pin-up, bondage and fetish photographs – on the wrong end of the conservatism of the time, and he was banned from further trading, even being forced to destroy his negatives. While Irving was the sales branch of the operation, the photographer was his sister Paula, who managed to save some of her work from the purge. This collection, Picture Page, comes from her illicit stash, and shows Page very much as a person rather than an object, the warmth of the relationship between photographer and model shining through, and giving an interesting insight into the creative process. Paris London Hong Kong gallery in Chicago(?) is hosting Picture Page until 31st August.

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Courtesy, Paris London Hong Kong

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