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Exhibition Review – Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing at the Barbican Art Gallery from 22nd June to 2nd September 2018


The Barbican Art Gallery presents the first UK survey of the American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) who is considered one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.

The exhibition features over 300 objects from vintage prints and original book publications to ephemera, field notes, letters, and documentary film and is largely chronological spanning from 1919 to 1957.

The exhibition begins with some of Lange’s little known early portrait photographs taken during her time running a portrait studio in San Francisco between 1919 and 1935. Lange was a well-known member of San Francisco’s creative community in this period and friends included Edward Weston, Anne Brigman, Alma Lavenson, Imogen Cunningham, and Willard van Dyke.

Most of Lange’s work at this time was portraits of wealthy West Coast families, however the Great Depression in the early 1930s began to signal a shift in her photographic approach moving from the studio into the streets to take pictures of street demonstrations, unemployed workers, and breadline queues.

Lange’s began to work with the newly established historical division of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the government agency tasked with the promotion of Roosevelt’s New Deal programme. Lange began to document living conditions across America during the Great Depression, she highlighted the plight of homeless families on the road in search of better livelihoods in the West; and the terrible conditions of migrant workers and camps across California. Lange began to see the possibilities that her photographs were a record of injustice, inequality, migration and displacement, and highlight the need for government relief.

Lange is best known for the iconic Migrant Mother, a photograph that became a symbol of the Great Depression. However the exhibition illustrates the range of work with a series on sharecroppers in the Deep South that highlights relations of race and power, photographs featuring architecture and landscapes, the influence of Lange’s FSA photographs on authors including John Steinbeck who wrote the famous Great Depression novel The Grapes of Wrath. Lange also worked  with her second husband Paul Schuster Taylor to produce the photo book An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion in 1939.  

The exhibition features Lange’s rarely seen photographs of the internment of more than 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent following the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941. This important series of  photographs remained unpublished during the war and were stored at the National Archives in Washington. It is the first time that this series is shown comprehensively outside of the US and Canada.

Equally important is Lange’s photographic series of the wartime shipyards of Richmond, California with friend and fellow photographer Ansel Adams (1902–1984). Lange and Adams documented the war effort in the shipyards for Fortune magazine in 1944 recording the female and black workers who played an increasing important role in the wartime workforce.

After the war, Lange worked on Public Defender (1955–1957) which explores the US legal defence system for the poor and disadvantaged through the work of a public defender at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland. Death of a Valley (1956–57), documents the disappearance of the small rural town of Monticello in California’s Berryessa Valley as a consequence of the damming of the Putah Creek and Ireland (1954) in which Lange captures the traditional life of Irish rural communities.

This fascinating comprehensive exhibition provides plenty of evidence that Dorothea Lange’s range of work has often been overlooked. Her fame was made with the iconic Migrant Mother, however this exhibition illustrates that her other series of photographs documented many important aspects of America history in the first half of the 20th century. This exhibition is a rare opportunity for visitors to see a comprehensive survey of one of the great American photographers of the 20th century.

The exhibition Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing is on at the same time as Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds. A ticket gains entry to both exhibitions.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the Barbican website here

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Exhibition Review – Frida Kahlo : Making Her Self Up at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 16th June to 4th November 2018

The V&A presents an exhibition that explores the life and times of Frida Kahlo, the exhibition entitled Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is the first exhibition outside of Mexico to display her clothes and intimate possessions, reuniting them with key self-portraits and photographs to offer a comprehensive perspective on her life story.

The V&A, working in close collaboration with Museo Frida Kahlo displays more than 200 objects from the Blue House where Kahlo lived for most of her life. Kahlo’s personal items including outfits, letters, jewellery, cosmetics, medicines and medical corsets were discovered in 2004, 50 years after being sealed in the Blue House by her husband Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist, following her death in 1954.

The beginning of the exhibition is centred around Kahlo’s early life at the Blue House, located in Coyoacán, on the outskirts of Mexico City. Kahlo’s father Guillermo Kahlo was a photographer and a number of his photographs are included in the exhibition. The section also includes early paintings and photographs of Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera and with some of their influential circle of friends including Communist leader Leon Trotsky who features in a rare film with the couple.

Kahlo suffered from a series of illnesses and injuries throughout her life starting from contracting polio when she was a young child to a near-fatal bus crash at the age of 18, which led her to being bed-bound and immobilised for protracted periods of time. It was at this time that she began to create a series of self portraits that often addressed her physical and mental condition at the time.

The exhibition features a number of medical and orthopaedic items that was discovered when the Blue House objects were found in 2004. Kahlo possessed many supportive bodices and spine back braces which sometimes were covered with religious and communist symbolism. Paintings from this time often included tragic imagery relating to her miscarriages.

Following the Mexican Revolution, Kahlo began to show her cultural and national pride by using the art and traditions of indigenous people of the country in her work. On one of the walls, there is number of ex votos, from Kahlo and Rivera’s collection. These small votive paintings of popular art, made mainly in tin, offered to a saint or to a divinity in gratitude for the fulfillment of a miracle.

Other people began to explore some of the attractions of Mexico in the 1920s, foreign artists, writers, photographers and documentary film makers began to document Mexico and often gravitated to Kahlo and Rivera who were making a name for themselves inside and outside of Mexico. The exhibition features a number of photographs from this period by Edward Weston, Tina Modotti and Nickolas Muray.

Kahlo and Rivera separated in 1935 and Kahlo’s work began to be noticed by American galleries leading to a 1938 solo exhibition in New York. Kahlo had an exhibition in Paris in 1939 organised by surrealists Andre Breton and Marcel Duchamp, one of the paintings entitled The Frame was bought the Louvre which was their first acquisition by a 20th century Mexican artist.

The final room in the exhibition is devoted to the many garments from Kahlo’s collection including rebozos, a traditional Mexican shawl, huipiles, an embroidered square-cut top, enaguas and holanes, long skirts with flounces, and jewellery ranging from pre-Columbian jade beads to modern silverwork. One of the highlights is a resplandor, a lace headdress worn by the women of the matriarchal society from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region in Southern Mexico, paired with a self-portrait of Kahlo wearing it.

This intriguing and unusual exhibition illustrates many aspects of the complex life of Frida Kahlo. Her long-standing health problems influenced much of her early art which often included a retreat in mythical imagery to show some of the pain she was enduring. However there was another side to Kahlo’s personality in which she became something of a ‘celebrity’ and enjoyed life to the full and led her to create an identity that seems to resonate with many people.

In the past 20 or more years, Frida Kahlo has become an ‘icon’ for many groups. A visit to this exhibition will provide some evidence why she is considered something of a countercultural and feminist symbol.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the V & A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review – Shape of Light : 100 years of Photography and Abstract Art at Tate Modern from 2nd May to 14th October 2018

A major new exhibition at Tate Modern reveals the intertwined stories of photography and abstract art. The exhibition entitled Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art will be the first show of this scale to explore photography in relation to the development of abstraction, from the early experiments of the 1910s to the digital innovations of the 21st century. 

Featuring over 300 works by more than 100 artists, the exhibition explores the history of abstract photography side-by-side with iconic paintings and sculptures.

The first room sets the theme for the exhibition with paintings by Mondrian, Braques and Kadinsky paired with Alvin Langdon Coburn’s pioneering ‘vortographs’ from 1917.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of photographers including Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand began to look closely at the ability of photography to show different elements of abstraction and began looking at familiar items in a variety of ways. The exhibition features a number of works by these artists and others that spanned diverse media like László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray.

It was not just inanimate objects that attracted artists, some began to create abstractions from the human body including André Kertesz’s Distorsions, Imogen Cunningham’s Triangles and Bill Brandt’s Baie des Anges, Frances 1958.

Photographers began to play with light to produce a number of interesting effects, the exhibition pairs the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Otto Steinert’s ‘luminograms’. 

The exhibition acknowledges the impact of MoMA’s landmark photography exhibition of 1960, The Sense of Abstraction for raising the profile of this type of photography and some installation photographs of this show are displayed with some of the works originally featured in the exhibition, including important works by Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind and a series by Man Ray that has not been exhibited since the MoMA show, 58 years ago.

Some artists in the 1960’s began to use the various effects of abstraction to create optical effects, the exhibition pairs work by Bridget Riley and installations of key photographic works from the era by artists including Floris Neussis and Gottfried Jaeger.

Much of this early worked was dominated by black and white photography, however by the 1970s, colour was being used increasingly especially from artists like Barbara Kasten with her Photogenic Painting and Sigmar Polke with Untitled (Uranium Green) in the 1990s.

The final room brings visitors up to date with contemporary abstraction artists like Thomas Ruff, Maya Rochat and Daisuke Yokota.

This intriguing exhibition explores how the birth of abstract art and the invention of photography created a new modern visual culture which was often marginalised for most of the 20th century but gradually became more popular and respected for the innovation and originality of artists and photographers. It is difficult to know what was the interaction and influence of abstract art and abstract photography on each other, however they did create a genre where artists and photographers began to push back the boundaries of contemporary art.  

Visiting London Guide Rating- Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Shape of Light : 100 years of Photography and Abstract Art at Tate Modern – 2nd May to 14th October 2018

A major new exhibition at Tate Modern will reveal the intertwined stories of photography and abstract art. Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art will be the first show of this scale to explore photography in relation to the development of abstraction, from the early experiments of the 1910s to the digital innovations of the 21st century. Featuring over 300 works by more than 100 artists, the exhibition will explore the history of abstract photography side-by-side with iconic paintings and sculptures.

Shape of Light will place moments of radical innovation in photography within the wider context of abstract art, such as Alvin Langdon Coburn’s pioneering ‘vortographs’ from 1917. This relationship between media will be explored through the juxtaposition of works by painters and photographers, such as cubist works by George Braque and Pierre Dubreuil or the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Otto Steinert’s ‘luminograms’.  Abstractions from the human body associated with surrealism will include André Kertesz’s Distorsions, Imogen Cunningham’s Triangles and Bill Brandt’s Baie des Anges, Frances 1958, exhibited together with a major painting by Joan Miró. Elsewhere the focus will be on artists whose practice spans diverse media, such as László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray.

The exhibition will also acknowledge the impact of MoMA’s landmark photography exhibition of 1960, The Sense of Abstraction. Installation photographs of this pioneering show will be displayed with some of the works originally featured in the exhibition, including important works by Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind and a series by Man Ray that has not been exhibited since the MoMA show, 58 years ago.

There will be rooms devoted to Op Art and Kinetic Art from the 1960s, featuring striking paintings by Bridget Riley and installations of key photographic works from the era by artists including Floris Neussis and Gottfried Jaeger. Rooms will also be dedicated to the minimal and conceptual practices of the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition will culminate in a series of new works by contemporary artists, Tony Cairns, Maya Rochat and Daisuke Yokota, exploring photography and abstraction today.

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here