Radical Eye: ‘The Best Collection of Modernist Photography in the World’

December 05, 2016

The Arts

Radical Eye: ‘The Best Collection of Modernist Photography in the World’

Modern Art Oxford, of which HMG is a long-term sponsor, extended an invitation to a private viewing of the Tate Modern’s exhibition of modernist photography, Radical Eye, the first exhibition to take place in the newly opened wing of the Tate Modern.

On Wednesday 23 November 2016, Christina and I hopped on the train to London to check out what is described by The Times as a ‘must see show’ and by The Guardian as ‘ravishing’.

The exhibition features 191 works selected from Sir Elton John’s extensive private photography collection, built up over the course of 25 years.

Modernist photography started in the early 1900s when there was a shift from the elaborately staged photography of the previous century towards unstaged, straightforward, unadulterated images of modern life. With the advent of new portable cameras from companies such as Leica and Kodak, reportage style photography also became popular.


The Radical Eye exhibition comprises works from the 1920s to the 1950s drawn from Sir Elton John’s extensive collection (of over 8,000 works) and features not only a collection of portraits by prominent photographer Man Ray, but works by Dorothea Lange, Tina Medotti and André Kertész to name but a few.

Hung in the flamboyant manner one would expect from Sir Elton John (think large gilded gold frames) the exhibition had the feel more of walking through Sir John’s, albeit rather large, house.

For photography enthusiasts to art newbies, this exhibition is at the same time accessible as it is interesting and surprising and is certainly well worth a visit. The Radical Eye is on at the Tate Modern until 7 May 2017 and a link to the site can be found here

Once again, many thanks to Modern Art Oxford for extending the kind invitation.

posted by Kate Garrow | December 05 2016