Top 10 photography exhibitions in London

Discover a world beyond Instagram at the city's best current and upcoming photography shows

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London's cultural menu doesn't start and finish with paint on canvas – experience a whole new world of artistic awesomeness at these blockbuster photography exhibitions, taking place at venues including The Photographers' Gallery and Getty Images Gallery.

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  • © Guy Bourdin

    Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

    Provocative, surreal and instantly recognisable: the work of Guy Bourdin marks a high point in twentieth century fashion photography, turning editorial and advertising imagery into something rich and strange. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of his work, charting his 40 year career from protégé of Man Ray to photography revolutionary.

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  • © Don McCullin

    Conflict, Time, Photography

    Conflict has an immeasurable impact on civilisations, landscapes, countries, cities, towns, loved ones and our memories. So a photographic exhibition about war might not strike you as an engagingly rewarding blockbuster show. But this enlightening and thoughtful survey is exactly that. Through images taken moments, days, weeks, months and years after the event, the effect and trauma of war is re-evaluated from the reflective viewpoint of artists and photojournalists without relying on explicit imagery.

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  • © 2014 Stephen Shore

    Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age

    ‘The long exposure time required by the first cameras favoured the static attributes of buildings, making them a far more reliable subject than the human figure,’ reads the dry introductory text to this extensive and actually quite moving show of photography from the past 80 years. The statement is true, up to a point. Barring disaster, buildings don’t tend to move. But the effects of light, weather and most noticeably, human activity, make architecture anything but a static subject. 

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  • Courtesy of Condé Nast Archive, Condé Nast. Publications, Inc, New York/ Paul Hawryluk, Dawn. Lucas and Rachael Smalley

    Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923-1937

    Once the highest paid photographer in the world, Steichen became chief photographer at Condé Nast in 1923 and it’s his years shooting for Vogue and Vanity Fair that this exhibition focuses on. Over 200 prints including portraits of Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich and Frank Lloyd Wright explore Steichen’s skill at capturing the glamour and social climate of the roaring twenties and 1930s.

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  • © Art Kane

    Art Kane

    Photographs by the highly-influential photographer whose phenomenal practice encompassed fashion, editorial, celebrity portraiture, travel and nudes. From cramming over fifty world-class Jazz musicians onto the steps of a Harlem building to The Who snuggled under a union jack flag, Kane’s approach to portraiture was vivacious, fresh and utterly timeless.

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  • Courtesy of Osborne Samuel and Beetles+Huxley

    The Photographers 2014

    Osborne Samuel and Beetles+Huxley collaborate on this extensive survey of photography from the nineteenth-century to the present day. Featuring works by major names including Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, Man Ray and Dorothea Lange, over 150 iconic photographs celebrate the variety and importance of the photographic medium.

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  • © Bryan Adams

    Bryan Adams: Wounded - The Legacy of War

    The harsh realities of war are conveyed in these striking portraits of British Armed Forces servicemen and women injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by the musician-turned-photographer.

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  • © Chris Stein

    Chris Stein: Me, Blondie and the Advent of Punk

    To mark Blondie's 40th anniversary, Somerset House present this mega show of previously unpublished photographs by Chris Stein, co-founder of the band. 

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  • © Mikhail Baryshnikov

    Mikhail Baryshnikov: Dancing Away

    You may know him as Carrie Bradshaw’s Russian love interest in ‘Sex and the City’, but Mikhail Baryshnikov is not only first and foremost a formidable ballet dancer, he’s also a talented photographer..

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  • © Mark Neville

    Mark Neville

    Thirteen works that reflect upon the differences of London’s subcultures and Pittsburgh’s industrial communities. 

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© Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

Provocative, surreal and instantly recognisable: the work of Guy Bourdin marks a high point in twentieth century fashion photography, turning editorial and advertising imagery into something rich and strange. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of his work, charting his 40 year career from protégé of Man Ray to photography revolutionary.

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11 comments
Viharsh K
Viharsh K

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helen
helen

World Press Photography Competition 2013, Royal Festival Hall , Southbank Two uncles carry their dead nephews in their arms, followed by an army of angry villagers, desperate for justice. A dead body of a suspected collaborator is dragged through the streets of Gaza City. The corpse of a Sudan Armed Forces soldier floats in an oily pond after a clash with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Looking at these harrowing photos it can be hard to believe that they are images of real life. And even harder to think there is someone one the other side of the camera, risking their life at times, taking the shot. The competition contains a combination of portraits, character studies, daily life, news and nature. But the majority seem to fall in the contemporary issues category, demonstrating conflicts of war, drugs, gangs and death. The exhibition comes with a warning for a reason. How the judges narrowed over 100,000 photos into this 55 exhibition amazes me, but it is clear why they are chosen. Though there are some strange additions, like the Danish photographer’s depiction of his family life on holiday in Italy, falling into the Daily Life category. His naked wife sits on the toilet yawning while a toddler rifles through the bin next to her. Another child is asleep in the next room. I’m not sure I’d be happy if I was her. The gallery has two separate sections which left it feeling slightly disjointed and would be easy to miss one whole part of the exhibition entirely. However, each photo is well annotated with just enough description of the event to draw the viewer into the scene without boring them. If you are of a nervous disposition, are already feeling depressed or emotional and have diminished faith in humanity- I would not visit. It is not an uplifting or ‘fun’ exhibition- but it will make you appreciate your own safe bubble of life. And make you want to buy a decent camera.

Giovanni Fanuele
Giovanni Fanuele

Bello e interessante! Anche la traduzione in Italiano è migliore della media. Bravi, complimenti. Saluti e auguri. From Brescia, Italy

Denn
Denn

This section seems like an afterthough - never seems to be comprhensive / updated enough.

Peter
Peter

There is fantastic exhibition of the ARENA GROUP of photographers at the Menier gallery, Southwark, Opened yesterday. Very moving & beautiful.

Jenny
Jenny

The Contemporary Art Society, based in Clerkenwell, is putting on a show by John Stezaker, Deutsche Borse 2012 winner, from 4 September. Not to be missed!

geoff
geoff

I only counted 9!