A good friend of mine from Ohio, who’s a massive photography aficionado asked me about where to see Photography in London. This is my response to his request:
Photography in London
Tate Modern frequently has good shows on including comprehensive retrospectives of established artists. A Diane arbus show just finished there and there are 2 shows on there I want to check out at the moment:
The Photographer’s Gallery is about to re open in early 2012 and frequently has great shows on although the space isn’t huge. Just before they closed they had a Sally Mann retrospective which I really enjoyed.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has a massive archive of photography and they feature photography frequently. They have a show on at the moment which looks interesting (but isn’t strictly photography) about postmodernism:
The National Portrait Gallery always has some great photography showing in the permanent collection. The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 is on at the moment which always has a really high standard. I haven’t seen this year’s yet. Critics haven’t been kind about this year’s show, saying things like it’s the same show every year and the work all looks the same but last year’s show was great. I do agree that they tend to show a particular type of portrait, quite composed, direct to camera, mostly daylight, possibly slightly desaturated. I think they need to look for ‘le petit quelque chose qui fout tout par terre’, which means ‘the little thing that fucks everything up,’ according to Christian Laboutin.
I always check the Telegraph’s Photography Section which seems to have the best listings and the best online photography section of any of the Papers . And Time Out is worth checking out to see what the major shows are that are on at the moment.
My girlfriend is an artist so she drags me around to a lot of art shows too which is great cause I get to see a lot of stuff I wouldn’t otherwise check out. Recently I really enjoyed the Wilhelm Sasnal at the Whitechapel Gallery. It’s a painting show which I wouldn’t have gone to see otherwise but the real gem on at the Whitechapel was the Government Art Collection curated by Cornelia Parker. Go for Grayson Perry’s etching alone although there’s plenty of other unusual, quirky and fun pieces on show too. And the curation is a joy in itself.
The Hayward Gallery generally has some great Art on show. Although I have to say I was bored by Pipilotti Rist’s tedious navel-gazing ‘Eyeball Massage’. The show would have been great in a nightclub as background wallpaper but in a gallery context felt dated, frivolous and tedious. Also showing in the Hayward is George Condo. I don’t think Mr. Condo is someone I’d like to meet. I found his art derivative and puerile. But don’t let that put you off the Hayward, The British Art Show 7 (in the Days of the Comet) earlier in the year was truly inspiring, surprising, fresh and thoughtful.
Oh and don’t forget the Barbican. Previously they’ve had big shows of Nobuyoshi Araki and David LaChapelle although their emphasis on Photography seems to have waned in recent years.
And as you’d expect in a city of this size, there are loads of smaller galleries such as Printspace, Flowers East, RifleMaker et al. And a stroll down Cork Street or Vyner Street is always rewarding….
(Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II which recently sold for $4,338,500 at Christies, New York in November 2011, currently the highest price paid for a photograph. Dodgy photoshopping though, ay?)