The Radical Eye exhibition at Tate Modern

I visited I visited The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography From The Sir Elton John Collection exhibition at Tate Modern. It was fascinating to see, not just the photographs, but to consider how they were put together as a collection. In an interesting film, Elton John discussed the motivation behind his collecting and some of the individual images that he had purchased.

There were some interesting points raised in some the gallery notes; for example in the section on portraits there was a comment on what happens when a photographic portrait is taken of an artist “Issues of control and collaboration arise particularly when the subject is an artist, raising the question of who is responsible for conveying the sitter’s persona“. in most cases one would expect the photographer to be the one responsible for conveying the personality of the sitter. But does this change when the person sitting for the portrait is themselves a photographer or another artist who perhaps has strong visions on how they should be portrayed. I suppose this issue may have been found ever since portraits were first painted. Is it any different for a photographer from say a painter who is producing an image of another artist.

The exhibition itself was fascinating and it was great to see so many well known images I had seen many, many reproductions of “migrant mother” by Dorothea Lange in books and online, but none of them portray the emotional power of the original image in quite the same way as seeing it close-up. I had noticed that this was the case with paintings as, obviously, texture and colour are more difficult to reproduce in a book. It was interesting to see that this also applies to photographic prints.

One photographer whose work I haven’t come across before was Imogen Cunningham. I was quite taken with a couple of images of hers of flowers. I’ve always been interested in flower photography and it was good to be able to see the work of another photographer working in that genre.