In this photograph of the Beatles by Christian Skrein, taken with a Leica M3, he captured a complex, dense staging with a certain ironic twist: in the foreground, one sees the four musicians descending the boarding ramp in a vertical line; in the background the horizontal letters “BEA” on the airplane are automatically completed in the viewer’s mind to form the word “Beatles”. Actually, it was the British Airways logo. During this encounter between the 19-year-old Skrein and the world stars, they were so impressed with his easy informality that they invited him personally to the set of their film Help in Obertauern. There, the well-known series of the “Fab Four” in the snow was taken, depicting the group during the film’s shooting and in unobserved, intimate moments.
Like many of his images of well-known personalities of the 1960s, Christian Skrein’s photograph of the four Beatles at Hamburg’s airport in 1965 is not a mere artists’ portrait, but the documentation of a historical moment, dynamic in its visual approach, stylistically assured, complex in its visual language.
A child of his time, Skrein relied on his intuition, sure that he would be in the right place at the right time, releasing the shutter at the right moment. Throughout his career as a photographer, which only spanned ten years, he refused to be pigeonholed, feeling equally at home with staged advertising and fashion shots as in the field of street photography and documentary work. A part of the group and art scene surrounding the Viennese Actionists of 1968, he worked in Milan and New York, hobnobbing with rock stars, models and artists – no less than Andy Warhol among them.
Reference: Christian Skrein, My Way. Photographs of the 60ies, Vienna 2008, p. 79.
Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction