One of the nice things about being a gallerist is having the excuse to visit other galleries and call it work! With spring in full bloom in London there has never been a nicer time to stroll from show to show. First stop this week was popping into my neighbour Proud Galleries on the Kings Road in Chelsea (1) (www.proudonline.co.uk). Proud Galleries have several galleries across London specialising in rock & roll and celebrity photography – owned by the maverick entrepreneur Alex Proud. The new show at their Kings Road Chelsea gallery is pictures of the legendary racing driver Ayrton Senna by the sports photographer Keith Sutton (2 & 3). I am not the biggest motorsport fan but am learning fast since by husband is busy working on the new Formula Electric series launching this year. The recent ‘Senna’ movie has only helped build the legend of Ayrton Senna, and there were quite a few red dots on the wall to prove it.
Then it was a leisurely walk up the Kings Road to the Taschen store (4) on Duke of York Square where I had been invited by their manager Nolan Browne to view their new Annie Liebovitz Sumo Collectors Edition book charting her forty year career. The Taschen store (www.taschen.com) is such a gem of a book store …. and much much more as I discovered. Annie’s book was of course to die for, but I just don’t have the space for such a large book at the moment in my new house which is already bursting with photography books. Putting on the white gloves to turn the enormous pages only added to the occasion as I felt I was handling precious photographic prints! Annie’s pictures really have transformed celebrity portraiture and her work with Vanity Fair has made the images some of the most famous and memorable of our time – there was hardly an image I didn’t recognise which is testament to her brilliance. My favourites included a young Leo DiCaprio (5) and Mark Wahlberg (6) in his pants on the beach!
Then I browsed the rest of the Taschen store. Downstairs they have a beautiful viewing room for their large format books and some of the limited edition photographic prints (7 & 8) that are sold with or without the books. Going down the stairs was one of my favourite pix of all time of Elvis Presly kissing, with tongues, a mystery girl by photographer Alfred Wertheimer (9). We’ve sold one of these prints before in my gallery. It was taken before Elvis was managed by the Colonel, as thereafter there are very few informal pictures of Elvis. I am a massive Elvis fan so have always loved this pic. Several of Taschen’s best selling large format books were on display including Helmut Newton’s ‘Sumo’ and Sebastiao Salgado’s recent ‘Genesis’ (10) – both of which I love. Sadly the Newton one is long sold out and I was informed that the one on display was on loan from the owner Benedict Taschen. They also had a very cheeky picture by my favourite Terry Richardson – signing his name on a pair of knickers (11). I know he is not very PC at the moment but I have always been a fan.
Then later in the week I managed to visit the Ronchini Gallery (www.ronchinigallery.com) on Dering Street in Mayfair to see their Berndnaut Smilde ‘Antipode’ exhibition of new works by the Dutch artist. Smilde makes multidisciplinary work through photography, installation, performance and sculpture. The new show consists of images from his ‘Nimbus’ series of ‘real’ clouds suspended in empty rooms (12-14). Using a fog machine he carefully adjusts the temperature and humidity to produce clouds just long enough to be photographed. I found it an intriguing and beautiful show, and since it is part of an ongoing series I look forward to seeing more in the future.
Tamara Beckwith is the Co-Founder of The Little Black Gallery London. www.thelittleblackgallery.com