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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  • Image courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles.

    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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  • © Nick Headges

    Nick Hedges

    This exhibition displays 100 photographs from the archive of British photographer Nick Hedges, commissioned by Shelter during the 60s and 70s. The stark images depict the poverty and poor standards of living faced by people in Britain, and are shown together for the first time following a 40-year restriction to protect the privacy of Hedges' subjects. The exhibition is displayed in the Virgin Media Studio.

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  • © James Woodend

    Astronomy Photographer of the Year

    Among the awe-inspiring shortlisted entries for this year’s competition are pics of psychedelic auroras, spine-tingling meteor showers and the centre of the Heart Nebula. The last example is a star-clustered region of glowing gas in the Cassiopeia constellation – in case you didn’t already know.

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  • © Condé Nast / Horst Estate

    Horst: Photographer of Style

    A retrospective exhibtion of Horst P Horst's prolific 60-year career. The German-American photographer did shoots for couturiers such as Chanel, Schiaparelli and Vionnet in the ’30s, as well as experimenting with early colour techniques. His most renowned images will be on display alongside rarities and unpublished pictures, plus there will be a recreation of Horst's 1940s studio. 

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  • © Jan Kempenaers, courtesy Breese Little

    Jan Kempenaers: Enjoy the Process

    A survey of the Belgian photographer's enigmatic images. Kempenaers’ photographs capture urban and rural vistas including a road trip along America’s West Coast as well as WWII memorials in Yugoslavia. . 

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  • © Bob Gruen

    Bob Gruen: Rock Seen

    The American photographer is as much a legend as the music legends he’s been shooting for the past 40 years.

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  • © Rotimi Fani-Kayode, courtesy Autograph ABP & Tiwani Contemporary, London

    Rotimi Fani-Kayode

    A retrospective of photographs by the Nigerian artist (1955-1989) whose work tackles issues of sexuality and homoerotic desire and addresses themes of diaspora and belonging.

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  • Courtesy the artist

    Martha Rosler: The Bowery

    The famous New York neighbourhood is the focus of this renowned American artist’s series, ‘The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems’, 1974-75, presented here by Afterall at Central St Martins. Comprising twenty-five photographic prints of sites frequented by alcoholics, paired with linguistic terms for a drunk, Rosler, a native New Yorker, exposes the reality of the Bowery’s harsh social landscape.

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  • © Richard Learoyd

    Negativeless

    The science of outmoded techniques from a bygone era are brought together in this display of works from daguerreotypes dating from 1830 through to Richard Learoyd’s photographs made using a camera obscura.

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  • © Bettina von Zwehl

    Bettina von Zwehl

    Von Zwehl explores the concept of friendship and the bond between women in her new portrait photographs.

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Image courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles.

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. 

MORE INFO

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10 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!