Photographer Douglas Kirkland's new book of photographs is a collaboration with his wife and partner of 47 years, Francoise. It is a love story as well as a story of innocence and freedom and of a time past that remains in their hearts and on the pages of this new book.
When We Were Young is the pictorial story of the summer in 1972 when, newly in love, they spent a month at Francoise's family country house in the south of France. So different from his last book, A Life In Pictures, a weighty, gorgeous coffee table collection of celebrity shots he's taken over the last five decades which is a tribute to every single person in the book as well as to his outstanding career, When We Were Young is an intimate look into Douglas Kirkland the man, the lover, and the free spirit he still, at 80, is. It is a public Valentine. And it's a ride back to a simpler, freer, and more innocent time for many of us.
The book opens with a quote from Judith Thurman; "Every Dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you've never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground." (Cleopatra's Nose, 39 Varieties of Desire) This sentence both stopped me, causing me to ponder and agree, and prepared me for the black-and-white photos that followed. Using another couple that they had brought to spend their month at the seaside with as stand-ins for themselves, Douglas spent several days photographing them living, loving, and lusting with the abandonment Francois and he were feeling for each other and their life together. Capturing the beauty of their young bodies and the spirit of innocent love, open fully like a flower, head to the sun in full bloom, each photo takes us back to a time when we too were young.
The photos are accompanied by text written by Francois that is a mixture of poetry and prose that, without trying to be anything it isn't, fits in perfectly with each scene.
Like an old song, maybe by Marvin or Al Green, that can take us back to a day, a time, a person and a place, these photos took me back to '72 -- to who I was with, to feelings still etched inside like faded dye on the fabric of my soul.
Francois and Douglas Kirkland have been lovers and partners in each others creative journey for almost half a century. They've made family and friends all over the world. They are as young at heart, if not in body, as they were when Douglas took these photos in the summer of '72. The secret to their eternal youth can be seen in the openness and complete freedom exuded in these photos. Although models, and not them, it is their openness, their abandon, their freedom of spirit, we've seen in each sensual photo.
When We Were Young is a love story spanning nearly fifty years and still counting, inviting us on each page to come in and, wherever we were, and whoever we were with, to make it our story too.
When We Where Young by Douglas and Francoise Kirkland
Available at Mouche Gallery
Address: 340 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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