Monday, 17 November 2014


The Abbey Road Session, The Complete Set, 8 August 1969 by Iain Macmillan
Lot no.152
Estimate £50000–70000

Iain Macmillan (1936-2006)

The Abbey Road Session, The Complete Set, 8 August 1969

Seven chromogenic prints, printed later, each signed and editioned 4/25 in silver ink in the margin,
34.5 x 34.5cm (13 1/2 x 13 1/2in)
Provenance: Acquired by the present owner from the photographer's estate
Now among music photography's best known images, the original idea was conceived by Paul McCartney who sketched exactly how he wanted the cover to look. Holding up the traffic, local police gave Macmillan ten minutes to photograph the road and he managed to get six shots. Here, for the first time at auction, are the six frames as well as the back cover.

There can be few surer indications of the iconic status of a photograph than discovering that the original image has been re-cast in three-dimensions; a number of intriguing examples exist. In each case, it is almost as if the momentous nature of the historical event, documented in the photograph, has insisted upon its subsequent immortalisation as a statue.
Were it not for the fact that it would probably cause yet more traffic congestion in North London than there already is, there is little doubt that there would already be four bronze figures, unmistakably striding in step across one particularly celebrated pedestrian crossing in NW8.
Iain Macmillan’s universally acclaimed photograph, featured (of course) on the cover of the Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ of 1969, is responsible for enough traffic disruption in any case, given that fans from across the globe continue to seek to emulate the most celebrated album cover of all time.
Encapsulating a significant cultural moment, it is an image that launched a notorious conspiracy theory, and that clearly still provides a touchstone for fans. The opportunity to see the image in close relation to the only other frames originally shot by the photographer is undoubtedly instructive. By judgment or serendipity (or more likely a bit of both), Macmillan was able to seize upon an instant that continues to have the power to resonate, forty-five years on.
Whilst the desire to turn famous images into statues may be understandable, the truly iconic photographs of our times don’t actually need to be cast in bronze, or chipped out of marble; in their power to haunt our collective consciousness, they are monumental already.
Edward Dimsdale, Senior Lecturer, Photographic Theory
University of the Arts, London
Friday 21 November 2014, 2.00pm
Bloomsbury London
Bloomsbury House
24 Maddox Street


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