The Radical Eye

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TATE MODERN
THE RADICAL EYE: MODERNIST PHOTOGRAPHY
FROM THE SIR ELTON JOHN COLLECTION
Opening: 10 November 2016
PRIVATE VIEW:
16 November 2016 | 18.45–21.30pm
6 December 2016 | 18.45–21.30pm
28 March 2017 | 18.45–21.30pm
curated by Shoair Mavlian with senior curator Simon Baker and Newell Harbin, Director of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, assisted by Emma Lewis.
Exhibition: 10 November 2016 – 7 May 2017
Bankside London SE1 9TG
 
 
TheRadicalEye.jpg
Man Ray 1890-1976 Glass Tears (Les Larmes) 1932
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper  Collection Elton John
© Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016
The show will be drawn from one of the world’s greatest private
collections of photography and will present an unrivalled selection of classic
modernist images from the 1920s to the 1950s. Featuring over 150 works from
more than 60 artists the exhibition will consist entirely of rare vintage prints,
all created by the artists themselves. It will showcase works by seminal figures
such as Man Ray, André Kertész, Berenice Abbot, Alexandr Rodchenko and
Edward Steichen, offering the public a unique opportunity to see remarkable
works up close. The quality and depth of the collection will allow the exhibition
to tell the story of modernist photography in this way for the first time in the UK.
It also marks the beginning of a long term relationship between Tate and the
Sir Elton John Collection.
 
The exhibition introduces a crucial moment in the history of photography – an
exciting rupture often referred to as the ‘coming of age’ of the medium, when
artists used photography as a tool through which they could redefine and transform visions of the modern world. Technological advancements gave artists the
freedom to experiment and test the limits of the medium and present the world
through a new, distinctly modern visual language. This exhibition will reveal
how the timeless genres of the portrait, nude and still life were reimagined
through the camera, as well as exploring its unique ability to capture street
life and the modern world from a new perspective.
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Featuring portraits of great cultural figures of the 20th century, including
Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston by Tina Modotti, Jean Cocteau
by Berenice Abbott and Igor Stravinsky by Edward Weston, the exhibition will give
insight into the relationships and inner circles of the avant-garde. An incredible
group of Man Ray portraits will be exhibited together for the first time, having been brought together by Sir Elton John over the past twenty-five years, depicting key
surrealist figures such as Andre Breton and Max Ernst alongside artists including
Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar. Ground-breaking experimentation
both in the darkroom and on the surface of the print, such as
Herbert Bayer’s photomontage and Maurice Tabard’s solarisation, will
examine how artists pushed the accepted conventions of portraiture.
 
As life underwent rapid changes in the 20th century, photography offered a
new means to communicate and represent the world. Alexandr Rodchenko, László Moholy-Nagy and Margaret Bourke-White employed the ‘worm’s eye’ and
‘bird’s eye’ views to create new perspectives of the modern metropolis – techniques associated with constructivism and the Bauhaus. The move towards abstraction
will also be charted, from isolated architectural elements to camera-less
photography such as Man Ray’s rayographs and Harry Callahan’s light
abstractions.
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Further themes explored in the exhibition will include new approaches to
capturing the human form, highlighted in rare masterpieces such as André Kertész’s Underwater Swimmer, Hungary 1917, while Imogen Cunningham’s Magnolia
Blossom, Tower of Jewels 1925 and Tina Modotti’s Bandelier, Corn and Sickle 1927
will feature in a large presentation dedicated to the Still Life. The important role of documentary photography as a tool of mass communication will be demonstrated in Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother 1936 and Walker Evans’ Floyde Burroughs,
Hale County, Alabama 1936, from the Farm Security Administration project.
 
Sir Elton John said: “It is a great honour for David and I to lend part of our
collection to Tate Modern for this groundbreaking exhibition. The modernist era
in photography is one of the key moments within the medium and collecting work
from this period has brought me great joy over the last 25 years. Each of these photographs serves as inspiration for me in my life; they line the walls of my homes
and I consider them precious gems. We are thrilled to be part of this collaboration
with Tate Modern and hope that the exhibition audience experiences as much joy
in seeing the works as I have had in finding them.”
 
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Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said: “This will be a truly unique exhibition.
There are few collections of modernist photography in the UK, so we are delighted
that Sir Elton John has allowed us to draw on his incredible collection and give
everyone a chance to see these iconic works. Coming face-to-face with such
masterpieces of photography will be a rare and rewarding experience.”
 
The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection
at Tate Modern will run
from 10 November 2016 until 7 May 2017.
It is curated by Shoair Mavlian with senior curator Simon Baker and
Newell Harbin, Director of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, assisted
by Emma Lewis. It will be accompanied by a major new catalogue from Tate Publishing, featuring an interview with Sir Elton John by Jane Jackson and an essay by Dawn Ades, Professor Emerita at the University of Essex.
 
Notes to editors
Sir Elton John Photography Collection:
Sir Elton John began collecting photographs in 1991 and his collection is now
regarded as one of the leading private photography collections in the world,
distinguished by its exceptional quality and remarkable range and depth.
From major vintage 20th century modernist works to cutting-edge contemporary
images, the collection now holds over 7,000 fine art photographs. To make this
exhibition possible Tate has worked in collaboration with Newell Harbin,
Director of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection.
 
 
TATE MODERN
THE RADICAL EYE: MODERNIST PHOTOGRAPHY
FROM THE SIR ELTON JOHN COLLECTION
TOUR
2 DECEMBER 2016 | 19 –20 pm
PRIVATE VIEW:
6 December 2016 | 18.45–21.30pm
28 March 2017 | 18.45–21.30pm
curated by Shoair Mavlian with senior curator Simon Baker
and Newell Harbin, Director of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection,
assisted by Emma Lewis.
Exhibition: 10 November 2016 – 7 May 2017
Bankside London SE1 9TG
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Ilse Bing Willem Dancer 1932 Collection Sir Elton John © The Estate of Ilse Bing
Take a British Sign Language guided tour of
The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography
Featuring over 150 rare vintage prints, the exhibition offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see remarkable works by seminal figures such as Man Ray,
André Kertész, Berenice Abbott, Alexandr Rodchenko and Edward Steichen,
telling the story of photography from the period for the first time in the UK.
 
This tour is delivered in British Sign Language by guide Edward Richards.
Please meet outside the exhibition.

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