Image: Maxwell Anderson
“His approach was born out of a reaction to the times but also showed a remarkable prescience. Mayne’s photographs came to prominence in the early sixties. At this time photography was exponentially expanding across the fields of information communication, photojournalism and advertising, and was adopted by architects, graphic designers and avant-garde artists. This was the era of working-class playwrights, authors and filmmakers breaking through the glass ceiling of cultural access, demanding ‘their’ stories be told. Radical architecture became socially minded, and avant-garde pop artists and graphic designers identified with photography as a modern counterblast to the cultural old-guard. Mayne’s images of working class communities, inner city streets, teenagers and fashion and music sub-cultures, despite their realist complexities, were appealing to them all. His vivid photographs appeared on the covers of Penguin and Pelican’s influential social science collection, re-designed by Germano Facetti who introduced photography to their paperback covers, as well as such classics as Peter and Iona Opie’s The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren and Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, both published in 1959.“
—Anna Douglas, Curator, Roger Mayne at The Photographers’ Gallery, 3 March – 11 June 2017.
A full feature on Mayne’s Penguin and Pelican book covers is available, along with Anna Douglas’ essay on the photographer, in the new issue of our periodical Loose Associations. The book can be ordered here. Book photographs by Maxwell Anderson. With thanks to Penguin Classics. Full information on the Roger Mayne exhibition can be seen here.