Once upon a time, I was pretty much fabled for my disastrous photography ability. I’m talking heads of people chopped off, others with foliage coming out the top of theirs, you get the gist. But one remarkable thing I’ve personally experienced since the launch and advance of Instagram, is that not only have I improved my own snap-taking skills immensely (I’m no Mario Testing just yet but still), I’ve also discovered a new found love of the photograph.
So, thanks Instagram, it turns out you’ve benefited my life in more ways than just forcing me to stay up late browsing pictures of people I don’t even know until my phone falls on my face.
When I learnt therefore of this new exhibition at the Tate Modern, I hot-footed it there to take a look. The Radical Eye – Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection showcases one of the most significant private photography collections in the world. Sir Elton John began collecting photography in 1991 and has built a collection of over 8000 prints from the early twentieth century to the present. Apparently he considers them not only as an inspiration in his life, but also as precious gems. I can see why.
It was a total privilege to wander through the gallery rooms and gaze at this incredible variety of portraits, documentary pictures and objects/abstractions. Truly impressive. I’d also call out a special mention not only to the photographs themselves but also the stunning frames they’re housed in (all in which they are displayed in the home of Sir Elton John and David Furnish) as well as the beautiful way in which they are hung #interiorsgoals.
The exhibition really gave me a new-found love for photography as an art-form, but also as an incredible medium in which to record life, a moment-in-time, as well as how intensely it can capture emotions and expression. It can take you into places you might not otherwise ever have the chance to venture or offer a glimpse of a personality and a person that might otherwise only ever be viewed in private.
I think I remember once being told that some cultures believe photography can steal your soul. While we know this to not entirely be true, there is something to be said for a little piece of someones soul remaining and shining through in a great portrait capture. There’s certainly many of those in this collection – among my favourites being that of Salvador Dali, taken in 1944 by Johan Hagemeyer, a Dutch born early 20th century photographer.
Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take your own photos in the exhibition, so I can’t share with you other favourites, but here (taken from postcards) are some others you can expect to see:
It’s a beautiful collection, definitely try to go see it (leave the kids at home though) and enjoy walking through this window into other worlds.
The Radical Eye – Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection is on at Tate Modern, 10 Nov – 7 May 2017