Sir Elton John became obsessed with photography and the notion of the Modernist photographer in the early 1990s. Just before he overcame an alcohol addiction, he sold off his entire art collection bar four paintings. After he became sober in 1990, Elton John was introduced to photography and was instantly enthralled and began collecting, now calling photography the ‘love of his life’ in terms of the art form. The Rocket Man’s collection now spans to over 8,000 photos, most of which are displayed in his 18,000sqft apartment in Atlanta, bought purely to display his collection. But now he has lent the Tate Modern nearly 150 of his prints, all of which are original prints from over 70 artists. This collection shows a clear knowledge and passion for the photography art form, and we were completely captivated by the vastness of his collection. This exhibition is truly a must-see...
The collection on show gives visitors an extensive insight into the classic Modernist period between the 1920s to 1950s, giving amateurs a great introduction to the medium as well as giving photography addicts the opportunity to view some of the world’s most influential prints such as Man Ray’s renowned ‘glass tears’. From Man Ray’s instantly recognisable portraits of influential artists from Salvador Dali, Picasso and Matisse to his famous "Rayographs", the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the development of photographic techniques as well as the innovation of the artists to manipulate the medium to create pieces of art.
The exhibition begins with portraiture; early developments of photography allowed artists to capture an accurate likeness of subjects never seen before, but Modernist artists used this to push the boundaries of pose, composition and emotion. For example, Salvador Dali’s aggressive and intense stare photographed by Irving Penn in 1947 appears to capture Dali’s raw emotion which was previously unheard of achieving in the art industry.
But it’s in the experimentation room where the Modernist photographer’s true innovation shows. Previously considered ‘mistakes’ such as distortions and double exposures are utilised to create ‘otherworldly’ images, long before the invention of Photoshop. Hubert Bayer’s ‘Humanly Possible’ self-portrait, where a portion of his arm is missing, is a fantastic example of this.
"This collection shows a clear knowledge and passion for the photography art form, and we were completely captivated by the vastness of his collection."
But the true standout photograph in the entire collection is Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans’ Great Depression series. ‘Migrant Mother’ is an emotion-fuelled masterpiece that completely captivated us; we were able to experience her pain and suffering.
And we could go on and on! This exhibition and Sir Elton John’s collection is immensely impressive. Every photograph has an historical and artistic significance, and tells a story like no other. Don't miss out on this truly inspiration curated masterpiece...
10 November 2016 – 21 May 2017