For four decades photographer David Hamilton divided his critics and fans over the question of whether his life work was fine art…or child porn. Leveled recently with an accusation of the rape of a thirteen year old girl-as well as plenty of the same accusations from past models-the man who grew up during World War 11, served as art director for Queen magazine in the U.K., Paris’ Printemps department store and published more than 30 books and portfolios of his work (not to mention directed 5 soft core movies) committed suicide this past week.
Hamilton’s Age of Innocence is one of the book’s critics would site when making the case that photographs of nude children were less art and more pornography. Along with the photographs of such notables as Sally Mann and Jock Sturges, Hamilton’s work was taken to task regularly, especially with young, often naked girls as his subject matter in many cases (to be fair, Hamilton also photographed flowers, men, landscapes, and animals). Though any charges against Hamilton’s work as child porn were thrown out of court, as recently as six years ago, Stephen Neal was convicted in British criminal court of “Level 1” possession of four books of alleged child pornography, one of those books being Hamilton’s Age of Innocence.
This conviction was later overturned.
Just before this death, Hamilton denied any of the latest charges leveled against him. As revealed a month ago when her book La consolation was published, French radio personality Flavie Flament claimed that “a famous photographer” had raped her when she was thirteen. She later admitted it was Hamilton, who had spotted Flavie and her mom when on vacation in Cap d’Agde, inviting the young girl to sit for him. Flattered by the professional attention of such a well-known photographer Flavi’s mom allowed the session, where Flavie claimed she was raped.
She calls the photographer’s recent suicide “a confession.”