Once upon a time in London

0NelliotttheendisathandYC17463.jpgElliott 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:

0a5knorrrichon6584578993_2028869777_n.jpgKaren Knorr and Olivier Richon, Roxy 4 from the Punk series 1976 © Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon

0aaaRoxy_1.jpgKaren Knorr and Olivier Richon, Roxy 2 from the Punk series, 1976

aVortex_6.jpgKaren Knorr and Olivier Richon, Vortex 6 from the Punk series, 1976

0asaaDestroy.jpgKaren Knorr and Olivier Richon, from the Punk series 1976 © Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon

0NeilKenlock.jpgNeil Kenlock, “Keep Britain white” graffiti, Balham, 1972. Courtesy: Neil Kenlock; Autograph ABP

0alvanderberg1116584668993_1493378625_n.jpgAl Vandenberg, Untitled 1975 © 2012 Al Vandenberg

0aalvandernbergcassette_al-vandenberg.jpgAl Vandenberg, Untitled, circa 1980

0higstreetkensington.jpgAl Vandenberg, High Street Kensington, 1976

This one wasn’t in the show, i found it looking for photos by Al Vandenberg:

0newwaveamee8s9s9.jpgAl Vandenberg, Fulham Broadway, 1980s. The Victoria and Albert Museum

0mariodebiasiLondon-1975-014.jpgMario di Biasi, London, 1975

0amikeeghanpiccadilly.jpgJames Barnor, Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London, 1967

0aaqueensguardsmarching4_DSC1185.jpgBruce Davidson, Queen’s guard marching, 1960. Courtesy: Bruce Davidson; Magnum Photos

0Bishopsgate-road-Paddingt-008.jpgWolfgang Suschitzky, Bishopsgate Road, Paddington, London, 1934

0Near-Monument-Station-Lon-009.jpgWolfgang Suschitzky, Near Monument Station, London, 1938

0From-St-Pauls-1942--008.jpgWolfgang Suschitzky, From St Paul’s, 1942

0bragainpricesD64x734.jpgLutz Dille, Untitled, 1961

0arcaids600064x752.jpgLutz Dille, Untitled, 1962

0aSunday-Petticoat-Lane-Mar-001.jpgDorothy Bohm; Petticoat Lane Market, East End, London, circa 1960

0Bohm__Petticoat_La_2279320i.jpgDorothy Bohn, Sunday, Petticoat Lane Market, London, c 1960

0marketabreadwoman993_1653870162_n.jpgMarkéta Luskacová, Woman and man with bread, Spitafields, London 1976 © Markéta Luskacová

0arcartierbresson05DC-939_470x604.jpgHenri 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)

0robertfrank-cityoflondon1951.jpgRobert 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.