Simon Baker is Tate's first Curator of Photography. Since taking up his position in 2009, he's worked on major exhibitions and displays including 'Another London' (2012), 'Conflict, Photography, Time' (2014) and Tate Modern's current photo blockbuster 'Performing for the Camera'. Here he shares his favourites shots of London in the Tate collection and tells us why he loves them. You'll also see one of these awesome images in our 40 best photos of London ever taken feature.
© Estate of Izis BIdermanas
Izis Bidermanas: Man Blowing Bubbles, Whitechapel, London, 1950
'A truly timeless image that says as much about photography as a medium as it does about the subject. The short, momentary life of the bubble, captured for eternity by the camera, almost a perfect symbol for the way Bidermans’s images of 1950s London preserve a moment of social change with incredible clarity and sensitivity.'
© Chris Shaw
Chris Shaw: Sky at Night, from Life as a Night Porter, c1993-2004
'Shaw’s "Life as a Night Porter" is a unique and brilliant vision of London seen through the doors of some of the capital’s sleaziest hotels. Shaw worked as a night porter in the 1990s, helping locked-out naked guests back to their rooms, dealing with drunks, entertaining passing celebrities, and all the rest, taking photographs on disposable cameras in an effort to stay awake. His images are wild, off-kilter, but brilliantly printed, humorously captioned, and full of hidden surprises. In "Sky at Night" Shaw finds the profile of a raven pecking the floor behind his subjects’ scattered possessions.'
© The Estate of Al Vandenberg
Al Vandenberg: Untitled from the series On a Good Day, c1975-80
'A whole collection of Al Vandenberg’s photographs of West London in the late '70s were donated to Tate as part of the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection in 2012. By no means the most famous name in the collection, Vandenburg is instead its hidden treasure, and his work an incredible time machine. From the first moment I saw this photograph it has been one of my all time favourite London images: cool girl, cool photograph, really want to know what she’s listening to…'
© Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon
Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon: Destroy from the Punk series, c1976
'Can’t really have London without Punk, even if New Yorkers keep telling us it all started over there. Knorr and Richon’s dark and moody images are as stylish and in your face as their subjects. "Destroy London" says it all.'
© The estate of Ellen Auerbach
Ellen Auerbach: London, 1936
'Modernism comes to London: a great "birds-eye" view of Oxford Circus by the German photographer Ellen Auerbach. A student of the Bauhaus photography master Walther Peterhans, Auerbach demonstrates completely her understanding of the so-called "new vision" that photography offered the world, transforming everyday sights and scenes into bold formal compositions. In the same year, 1936, Laslo-Moholy Nagy was also here, photographing the Street Markets of London.'