Top photography exhibitions in London
Chances are you haven’t heard of Dave Heath. The American photographer, who quietly documented post-WWII US society, has flown under the radar. This is his first major UK show, and despite only being two rooms, ‘Dialogues with Solitudes’ packs a big emotional punch.
As Britain’s Self-Loathing Olympics head towards their Closing Ceremony, the country’s favourite documenter of our endlessly conflicted national identity lands at the NPG. This is not a coincidence. Since the referendum result in 2016, photographer Martin Parr has been pointing his lens at various aspects of the nation to investigate, in his word, ‘Brexitness’.
Diane Arbus was the original people-watcher. Some lads larking around by the coast, a glamorous receptionist at her desk, two women shooting evils at the universe: nothing escaped her notice. The Hayward Gallery’s exhibition of photographs from the first seven years of her career (1956-1962) is sleekly arranged with each small print attached to one side of a tall white rectangle.
Heads up: this is a difficult show. It’s difficult because it documents in crisp detail some of the most shameful aspects of humanity over the last 60-odd years. It’s difficult because a lot of the images here were commissioned by newspapers and magazines to show their readers those shameful aspects of humanity, and were never meant to be coolly appraised in a big art gallery: they were meant to be spattered with the cornflakes you’d just choked over.
This joint exhibition is inspired by the Asian-born Londoners’ feeling of being ‘lost in translation’, in their new home and in the fashion industry.
In 1855, Roger Fenton arrived in the Crimea on a commission from publisher Thomas Agnew & Sons to photograph scenes and figures from the ongoing Crimean War. After he returned to London, the images were exhibited at four venues in the capital and… that was it. There hasn’t been a London show of Fenton’s creations since 1856.
Why did a young photographer spend five years obsessively photographing a single street in west London, visiting it 27 times and taking 1,400 photos?
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