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Barbara Ker-Seymer (1905-1993), Photographer

Sitter in 1 portrait
Artist associated with 9 portraits
'It seemed to me that 'Bar' always stood outside the events of her life and observed things with marvellous wit and sympathy and perception, and sometimes just a touch of very enjoyable malice', wrote Humphrey Spender. She brought an unaffected playfulness to photography, rejecting retouching and soft focus, placed an emphasis on backgrounds that included leather, tiger skins and corrugated cardboard. Her portraits of figures such as Nancy Cunard, Edward Burra, Jean Cocteau and Gertrude Stein are some of the most economical and memorable of the era. At the outbreak of war Ker-Seymer joined a film unit making instructional films for the armed services. After the war she opened one of London's first laundrettes.

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Barbara Ker-Seymer

by Humphrey Spender
vintage bromide print, 1930s
NPG x36076