Jorge Lewinski (1921-2008) was born in Lwow, Poland (now Ukraine). When Germany and then the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939, he fell into Russian hands and was sent to a Siberian labour camp. But after Germany invaded the Soviet Union he was released to the British Army in the Middle East, before joining the RAF. His arrival in Liverpool in 1942 at the age of 21 marked the start of a lifelong affiliation with the country where he was to remain for the rest of his life. Lewinski initially studied economics, and joined the Camera Club around 1962 to practice photography as an amateur while working in business. He began a project of photographing artists from this time until 1966, and having developed a name for himself through the portraiture of artists, he turned professional. Since then he has become the pre-eminent photographer of artists in Britain 1.
Having given up photography in 1995 because he no longer liked the art being produced and did not want to deal with the marketing and PR machinery surrounding modern artists, he refused in 2002 to sell his archive to the Tate, which would have been its obvious home. Instead, he chose to let the Earl of Burlington (now the 12th Duke of Devonshire) purchase it for Chatsworth House 2. It contains photographs of over 300 artists, from Britain and abroad, working and exhibiting in Britain between 1962 and 1995. The photo archive is both an imaginative interpretation of these artists with their work and an important record of British art at this time 3.
More about Jorge Lewinski
Jorge Lewinski Archive: website dedicated to the life and work of Jorge Lewinski
National Portrait Gallery: short bio and further info and photos from Lewinksi’s celebrity portraiture collection
Photoicon Gallery: featured photos from Lewinski’s life work
1 Jorge Lewinksi Archive
2 The Times Obituaries. February 6, 2008.
3 Chatsworth Archive