Elliott Erwitt, Hyde Park. 1978
Another London, an exhibition which opened a few weeks ago at Tate Britain, reminded me of my schooldays. I was 12 and started to learn english and about the English in illustrated text books. There were the bobbies, the bowler hats, Big Ben and the changing of the guard, the red buses, the red phone boxes, the smog. Clichés that screamed Great Britain for foreigners. When i first visited London, i looked for them. I didn’t spot any bowler hat but, hey, i went to Piccadilly Circus to ‘see the punks’!
Another London is a collection of pictures taken in London by foreign photographers between 1930 and 1980. Either many of them read the same text book as me or they were hired to fill its pages with their images.
But the show is no postcard pictures party. It is less about the parks and monuments than it is about the Londoners. The photographs selected in the exhibition depict the social history of the city in black and white. I guess i’ll never cease to be amazed by the photos of Shoreditch before the hipsters and by the sartorial audacity of Londoners (though i can’t imagine anyone nowadays loitering around town with ‘Destroy London” written on the back of their leather jacket.)
Here are some of the images you can see at Tate Britain. In no particular order:
Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon, Roxy 4 from the Punk series 1976 © Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon
Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon, Roxy 2 from the Punk series, 1976
Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon, Vortex 6 from the Punk series, 1976
Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon, from the Punk series 1976 © Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon
Neil Kenlock, “Keep Britain white” graffiti, Balham, 1972. Courtesy: Neil Kenlock; Autograph ABP
Al Vandenberg, Untitled 1975 © 2012 Al Vandenberg
Al Vandenberg, Untitled, circa 1980
Al Vandenberg, High Street Kensington, 1976
This one wasn’t in the show, i found it looking for photos by Al Vandenberg:
Al Vandenberg, Fulham Broadway, 1980s. The Victoria and Albert Museum
Mario di Biasi, London, 1975
James Barnor, Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London, 1967
Bruce Davidson, Queen’s guard marching, 1960. Courtesy: Bruce Davidson; Magnum Photos
Wolfgang Suschitzky, Bishopsgate Road, Paddington, London, 1934
Wolfgang Suschitzky, Near Monument Station, London, 1938
Wolfgang Suschitzky, From St Paul’s, 1942
Lutz Dille, Untitled, 1961
Lutz Dille, Untitled, 1962
Dorothy Bohm; Petticoat Lane Market, East End, London, circa 1960
Dorothy Bohn, Sunday, Petticoat Lane Market, London, c 1960
Markéta Luskacová, Woman and man with bread, Spitafields, London 1976 © Markéta Luskacová
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Waiting in Trafalgar Square for the coronation parade of King George VI, 12 May 1937 (more in May 12th, Coronation of King George VI)
Robert Frank, City of London, 1951
The photographs come from a collection created over 20 years by Eric and Louise Franck. Most of them were donated by the couple to the Tate. I hope that means that Tate is going to pay even more attention to photography in the coming years.
Another London is at Tate Britain until 16 September 2012.
Photo on the homepage: Milon Novotny, Middlesex Market, 1966.