The Radical Eye at Tate Modern is an exhibition of photographs from Sir Elton John's private collection and includes some incredible early photography.
Inside the exhibition is a short film where Sir Elton John shares his passion for the photos in the exhibition. It's clear how much they mean to him and why this has motivated him to bring this collection to a wider audience. What was also interesting was checking out where he normally hangs the photos, an apartment he moved to, specifically to house them.
~ Edward Weston 1886-1958, Igor Stravinsky, 1935, Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper,117 x 92 mm, The Sir Elton John Photography Collection, © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents ~
For me, this exhibition was an absolute must-attend as it includes photographs by Dorothea Lange that have absolutely fascinated me since I first saw them. In particular, Dorothea Lange's photo of the Migrant Mother has had me transfixed since my teens.
~ Dorothea Lange 1895-1965, Migrant Mother, 1936, Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, 318 x 241 mm, The Sir Elton John Photography Collection ~
Surrounded by her children, her face gaunt, clothes ragged and dirty, she looks past her children into the distance with resignation. The picture shows us the face of hardship, unfiltered. It is at once intimate and yet we, the onlooker, are removed from her struggle. There is no ambiguity in her expression, her predicament cannot be misread and it had an immediate impact. Published within days of being taken, the photo appeared in the San Francisco News and caused an outpouring of aid.
At the time Dorothea had not asked the migrant mother her name and although the photo's release resulted in aid to the temporary camp the family had been staying in, the migrant mother had already moved on.
Sir Elton John it seems was equally fascinated by Dorothea Lange and bought a copy of this photo plus some others that she took around the same time. There's the picture of the bread line, the queue of motionless, mostly men, packed together that fill the frame. Only one man faces the direction of the lens. His face is closed as he waits, he holds an empty cup in two hands, his eyes hidden by the rim of his hat. They are waiting for a hand-out at the White Angel soup kitchen.
Motivated to capture the struggle that affected so many during the Great Depression, Dorothea joined the Farm Security Administration and travelled the country documenting the plight of those suffering economic hardship.
Another photograph I was keen to study close up was the photo of Gloria Swanson's face covered in black lace. Looking back at the lens through a veil of black lace it is a stunningly beautiful photograph. Her thin eyebrows identify the decade as the 1920s. Framed by Sir Elton John in an art deco gold frame, the photograph is a jewel shining out its gold frame.
~ Man Ray 1890-1976, Glass Tears, 1932, Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, 229 x 298, The Sir Elton John Photography Collection, © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016 ~
While I was there I discovered something new about Tate Modern. An incredible view. Previous to this visit I'd enter via the enormous ramp, head to the bottom and turn left into the galleries on the side closest to the Southbank. The Radical Eye took me right and I found not only the exhibition but a lift that took me to a rooftop where I found fabulous views across London.
The exhibition runs until 21 MAY 2017
Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG, price £16.50, click on the link for a full list of prices
With thanks to Tate Modern for my complimentary ticket.
I hope you enjoy your visit,
Blogger, Modern Bric a Brac
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