From his early work with his hometown bands such as Joy Division and The Smiths, to his later work with Rock legends such as Bowie and Jagger, Cummins has always been acutely aware of the mythological component of the images he created, “If I had simply produced the photos of Joy Division in the studio, it would not have had any meaning. What interested me was to show the environment in which they lived. I was probably more aware than the groups themselves of the myth that the pictures would convey.”
The moment the post punk music scene exploded in Manchester with Joy Division and the birth of Factory Records, Kevin Cummins became as integral a factor as any, in creating the legend that was to become ‘MADCHESTER’
“Kevin Cummins was sometimes more important than the bands”. Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks)
As well as capturing the madness and majesty of performance, Kevin Cummins has always been able to access the vulnerability of the artists behind the scenes as demonstrated in his series of Joy Divisions’ career.
Ian Curtis performs his powerful, legendary dance moves and then, in their rehearsal room, Curtis sits, quietly, cigarette in hand, a grey coat hangs from the wall behind him, revealing the artist a young man, exposed. These images describe the duality of life in Joy Division which Kevin’s series documents so eloquently.
A chronicler of choice to the bands that made up the ‘Madchester’ scene, and with his innate sense of drama, in terms of composition and lighting, Kevin Cummins work soon brought him to a wider audience through his collaboration with NME and a series of early groundbreaking exhibitions.
“Kevin’s photographs have shaped the way fans perceive their idols. These images capture moments long forgotten”. Noel Gallagher
“My favourite NME cover was The Stone Roses when they were covered in paint. That was mega.” Liam Gallagher, NME 20/4/02
Kevin has gone on to amass an enviable portfolio which has won him global acclaim among music fans and art collectors alike with commissions for London’s National Theatre and countless album covers.
His work adorns walls across the world both in private collections and on permanent display in the likes of The Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.
The Stone Roses covered with paint or Morrissey draped upside down over a monitor have become definitive images of our times, and demonstrates how Kevin Cummins gained the trust of the artists he worked with.