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LONDON — Rare vintage prints by Man Ray, Berenice Abbott, André Kertész, Alexandr Rodchenko and Edward Steichen will be part of a major exhibition drawn from Elton John’s collection of photography, the Tate Modern announced on Wednesday. The exhibition, “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection,” will run Nov. 10 through May 7, 2017, and will show around 150 works created between the 1920s and the 1950s.
The museum also announced that the exhibition marks the beginning of “a long-term relationship between Tate and the Sir Elton John Collection.” In an email, a Tate press representative said that discussions were “ongoing with Sir Elton John and David Furnish about making some key pieces from their collection available to the British public on a more permanent basis.”
In addition to looking at the way photography reimagined the genres of the nude and the still life, the exhibition will show portraits of important 20th-century cultural figures, including Igor Stravinsky by Edward Weston, Jean Cocteau by Berenice Abbott, and Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz. It will also present a group of portraits by Man Ray that includes images of André Breton, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar and Henri Matisse. The role of documentary photography as a means of mass communication will also be explored.
Mr. John began to collect photographs in 1991 and owns over 7,000 pieces, ranging from 20th-century Modernist works to contemporary images.
“The Modernist era in photography is one of the key moments within the medium and collecting work from this period has brought me great joy over the last 25 years,” said Mr. John in a statement.
In an email, Joshua Holdeman, an art adviser and former worldwide head of photographs at Sotheby’s, said that Mr. John’s collection is one of the most definitive collections of photographs in the world. “What is being shown at the Tate Modern is a very tiny fraction of one of the many categories in the medium that Elton has collected in depth,” he said.
Mr. Holdeman added that among the works that will be shown in the Tate exhibition, Man Ray’s “Glass Tears” and André Kertesz’s “Underwater Swimmer” were particularly exceptional. “The Man Ray is especially important because of the crossover to Surrealist paintings collectors,” he wrote. “They both are quintessentially Modernist images, and it would be next to impossible to find vintage prints of these images to buy, at any price, today.”


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