Although compared to Paris or New York there is a distinct lack of photography galleries in London we are lucky to have many fine institutions that do show photography. In 2009 the Tate Modern (www.tate.org.uk) appointed its first ever curator of photography in Simon Baker and ever since there has been a constant stream of great photographic exhibitions.
So one sunny Sunday morning I caught the river bus down the Thames from Chelsea to the Tate Modern to see the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition (pic 1) before it finished – which had been jointly acquired with the National Galleries of Scotland through the very generous Anthony D’Offay Donation. In the three rooms of black and white photographs it did please me to see that they did not censor the stunning silver gelatin photographs including some of Mapplethorpe’s most iconic images (the many self portraits (pic 2) including ‘bull whip’ (pic 3), and the mightily endowed Bob Love (pic 4)). Although it does always amuse me that galleries feel it necessary to put up signs stating: ‘This display contains images of an adult nature’? (pic 5)
Afterwards I crossed the river to the Tate Britain, where they really should have put up a warning sign for their Turner Prize exhibition (www.tate.org.uk
). The noticeboard of comments outside said it all: “I was so bored out of my mind’ and ‘Load of shit’. (pic 6)
Of course in my own gallery we always show the best photography, including our recent ‘Best of Alistair Taylor-Young’ exhibition (pic 7) which was supported by our friends at Domus Nova (www.domusnova.co.uk
). Alistair is the the nicest and most generous man you will ever meet so it is always a joy to see him, which we rarely do as he lives in New York. He is one of our photographers who sells throughout the year whether we have a show on or not – as his images are so memorable that they stick in peoples mind. So having had two previous exhibitions with him I thought why not combine all the best-selling images together in one show? So we did and of course it has been a stunning show and sold like hot-cakes. It was mightily impressive that my business partner Tamara Beckwith came at all to the Private View since she had only had her new baby boy Vero three days before. But of course she looked fantastic and made an appearance to the delight of all. We were also very impressed that the mighty Nadav Kander (pic 8) managed to make it all the way from Hampstead to Chelsea.
It was good to see the return of Multiplied at Christies (pic 9), the Contemporary Editions Fair, (http://www.christies.com/multiplied
) around the corner from us in South Kensington. It is a well curated fair with a variety of good contemporary art including a selection of photography from galleries such as Flowers and online print giants Eyestorm. I couldn’t help myself and bought a delicious little Miles Aldridge (pic 10) from his recent ‘I Only Want You To Love Me’ series from Galerie Alex Daniels / Reflex Amsterdam. P.S. A good tip for other fairs was that it was free – which meant you could come and go, which meant I visited several times whilst I decided what I wanted to buy without the hassle of buying tickets.
One of my favourite photographers is Sebastiao Salgado. So it has been a privilege to work with him, through my work with Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights (www.survivalinternational.org
), on an exhibition ‘People of the Rainforest’ at the Eden Project in Cornwall (www.edenproject.co.uk
– until October 2015) showing six stunning photographs of the rainforest taken by Salgado and explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison. What is great is that the photographs are displayed among the foliage in the Rainforest Biomes (pix 11) – to show that many tribal people live in the rainforest and that they are the best guardians of the rainforest. The exhibition was opened by Survival International President, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, and Nixiwaka Yawanawa, an Amazon Indian from Brazil (pic 12).
By coincidence Salgado also had a show at Beetles + Huxley in London (www.beetlesandhuxley.com
)(pic 13) with some of his most recognisable images including the Brazilian goldminers and recent photographs from his mammoth Genesis project (pic 14). Despite the amazing images, there is just something that doesn’t work for me about the space at Beetles + Huxley which always leaves me less than inspired. They do however do lovely catalogues, and I went home happy with my new Salgado catalogue (pic 15).
Mid week it was off to the new Assouline (www.assouline.com
) store on Piccadilly for the launch of Valentino’s book ‘At The Emperor’s Table’. The store is full-on WOW factor – enormous and beautiful. Much like Valentino’s book which you need a JCB to carry out of the store. The great and the good were of course out in force to support Valentino including Mario Testino (pic 16). After much quaffing of champagne it was off to Chiltern Firehouse with Valentino PR supremo Keith Wallace and designer Fiona Leahy for a quiet dinner – if that is possible at Chiltern Firehouse?
After the enormous success of the current Horst exhibition at the V&A Museum, it was timely that The Photographers Gallery have put on their mighty Edward Steichen show (www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
– until 18 January 2015) (pic 17). His early photographs from 1911 are considered to be the first modern fashion pictures ever published and he became known as the father of modern fashion photography. His career for Conde Nast shooting for Vogue and Vanity Fair from 1923-1938 meant that he photographed all the screen legends of the time including Greta Garbo (pic 18), Joan Crawford (pic 19) and Marlene Dietrich, and my favourite – his iconic shot of Gloria Swanson (pic 20). He then became a huge advertising photographer and indeed the highest paid photographer in the world at that time. The show over two floors was very good and under any other circumstances would have got my ‘Best Photography Show of the Year Award’ – except that nothing can beat the Horst show. My only gripe was that on both floors many of the lightbulbs had blown (I counted more than a dozen) meaning some areas were very dark. There is no excuse for this with such a well-staffed gallery. Downstairs in the Print Room I was happy to discover the work of Martina Lindqvist and her ‘Neighbours’ series of photographs of austere houses amid the remote and snowy backdrop of rural Finland (pic 21). I had to stop myself from adding one to my collection.
One night whilst dining ay Skylon it was good to see the World Press Photo of the Year 2014 exhibition on at the South Bank Centre (www.southbankcentre.co.uk
) showing 143 photographs (pic 22). These free public displays are a great way of introducing photography to a wider audience.
To end the year we had an early Christmas party with a great turn out of our friends and clients including Indian textile heir Arun Nayar (pic 23), mobile phone retailer Charles Dunstone and his wife Celia (pic 24), another mobile phone tycoon Claire Caudwell ([pic 25), and Lindsey and Scarlett Carlos Clarke (wife and daughter of legendary photographer Bob Carlos Clarke) with uber-artist Tim Noble (pic 26).