The Who

1966 by Colin Jones
National Portrait Gallery

For what became one of the most iconic images of ‘pop photography’, Colin Jones spontaneously picked up the union jack to back The Who, confirming a staple of Mod iconography. The decision reflected the changes in the art of photography itself, colour photography was widely available and photographers were keen to manipulate its possibilities. The Beatles to Bowie exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery did much to illustrate this, remembering the photographers that gave us images recognisable as any Warhol. The Who photographed here had not yet hit America, but had the previous year released ‘My Generation’ (1965), a song iconic in its capturing of the feeling of the sixties. Pete Townshend, arms crossed, looks indignantly into the camera, his comrades lining the background (Keith Moon, John Entwistle and Roger Daltry). Their pose is by no means threatening, but it is a definite pose, and a stance created not only by the band but by design. Monotone pattern ties the members together, red and blue picked out among the black and white, with Townshend finally uniting the composition with his union jack jacket. The photograph is all about colour, not light and tone. Light is stark and brightly white, exposing their colours and faces alike, in is a realism that allows the presence of the band to be stamped on the back of our minds.


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