Visited photography exhibitions in London

Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism at the V&A

This was somewhat a mixed-reaction exhibition. It was all about postmodernism and the way the photos depicted signs of this. The photos ranged from the 70s to the present day and were mainly created by artists associated with postmodernism. You could see this by the various prints within the exhibition; from old enlargements on Silver Gelatin to large back lit poster prints.

Artists Room: Diane Arbus at the Tate Modern

Arbus’s photographs were based on contemporary life and the exposed human condition in the USA. They were all printed on Gelatin and were taken with B&W film. With only a few landscapes, I found the exhibition quite boring, however, this is of personal opinion as I prefer landscapes to studio work with people as the theme. This opinion may also be enhanced by the way the Tate had laid out the images, they were in white frames on a white wall, with bright lights that caused reflections on the frame, so the beauty of some of the prints were obscured. In addition, the labeling for each image was clear, however the were bunched in groups of five rather than the title relating directly to the image, this was a big annoyance. 

Photography: New Documentary Forms at the Tate Modern

This exhibition caused mixed emotion. The large documented acrylic prints of the conflicts in the Middle East were something very unusual to view, as normally we are used to viewing old war time B&W film photos. It really made me think and ask questions to myself, the fact that the photos were of the present day and were so large meant the detail of destruction that is caused everyday was mind boggling. On the other scale, they had other prints by a Russian photographer which documnted everyday life in pre- and post-Soviet Ukraine. However, my most favourite part of the exhibition was viewing the large prints of the American power stations, the lenses used were ample in showing the detail of each individual pipeline. I Found the layout of this exhibition was far better than the one above, however, in some cases many photographs were displayed in one massive clump, this didn’t give enough time to appreciate each image, rather it was one photo montage, which, in my mind, didn’t directly relate to each other.

Friedlander by Car at the Timothy Taylor Gallery
This is one of few exhibitions in this blog I can say was well worth the visit. I did a lot of research on Lee Friedlander when I was studying A-level photography. He seems to have his own unique style which, in some cases, is hard to comprehend when first viewing his images. I found obscured cityscape scenes of New York and Chicago very intriguing as they seem to all use purposeful framing and DOF to get the absolute correct image. This exhibition was on in the art gallery in New York last year and was bought to the UK, and this is the first solo Friedlander exhibition we’ve seen since 1976 in the UK. The square formatting of the images also makes the images unique in the cropping of the various scenes. In addition, the use of car windows and reflections in mirrors is used to frame various scenes whilst driving through the big cities of the USA. My love of cars, particularly the old American classics really excited me to see them as old B&W prints in the old square format. The layout in the small gallery was no problem because every image was in a sequential order and the lighting was perfect and the signage of each photo was clearly presented. They also had a few books related to his work which you could casually flick through. Well worth a visit, however, does end in a few days!
Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century at The Royal Academy of Arts
This exhibition was the only one that cost a little amount to visit. Set in the beautiful old building at the Royal Academy, this exhibition was well worth the £3. The images were taken by a variation of Hungarian photographers such as Brassaï, Kertész and Balogh. I really enjoyed wondering around viewing the images, which were of different sizes and also viewing old material such as magazines where photos were published. Some of the images were taken by photographers who left Hungary to make it big in countries such as the USA, France and Germany and introduced their audience to unknown changes in photojournalism as well as fashion and abstract photography. Some of these images were very strking, such as the one of the Militiaman who was shot just as the photographer, Robert Capa, caught the moment.
On the other end of the scale, some of the photographers stayed in Hungary where they documented the stylistic development of photogtaphy in Hungary dating back to c.1914–c.1989. The striking images left a legacy to international photography. In addition, the exhibition was very vast, so a lot of time must be spent to really appreciate the photographs. The overall layout was good and all captions were clear.
It is great to take advantage of the free photography exhibitions that take place in major cities like London and NY because it is always going to be intriguing in some way, especially for photography enthusiasts, such as myself.

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