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Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection at The Sc...


Somebody estimated that more photographs were taken last year then all the other years put together since the first commercially introduced daguerreotype process back in 1838. Everybody has a camera, everybody is a camera. We record everything and see nothing. The Selfy the latest component of confused logic; we place ourselves in  front of the very object we are photographing,this strangely echoes a quote that Susan Sontag made many years before the mobile phone became an extension of our bodies”A camera makes us a tourist in everyone’s reality, eventually even our own”. But one thing remains the same from that very first image, the magic of capturing that tiny segment of a moment in time.  Drawn by Light reunites The Royal Photography Society with The Science Museum, a partnership that is almost as old as photography itself, when the then humble Photography Society staged its fifty annual exhibition in 1858 at the Science Museum’s present site. As you would expect from a marriage  that has lasted so long, a very special exhibition featuring 200 exceptional photographs from some of the legendary names of the past.

Portrait of Christina, Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn O'Gorman, c.1913, The Royal Photographic Society © National Media Museum, Bradford SSPL

Portrait of Christina; Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn O’Gorman

This latest exhibition in the SMs Media space is a nice balance of portrait’s, landscapes and classic nudes, cherry picked from one of the largest and most important photographic collections in the world.  From the piecing blue eyes of Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl to the seemingly barren landscape of the 1855 Roger Fenton’s The Valley of the Shadow of Death pitted with cannonballs in the aftermath of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade, this is an exhibition for the connoisseur.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855, Roger Fenton
Roger Fenton 1855.
Fenton was one of the first photographic war correspondence, something we take for granted today, but during the Crimea war Fenton’s equipment was so bulky he needed a horse and cart to transport it around the battle fields, just over a hundred years later the portrait of Larry Burrow displays the compact 35mm equipment used in a very different war in Vietnam.
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Larry Burrow RPS Collection
A personal favourite of mine, the works of the Austrian photographer Rudolf Koppitz dismisses any doubt of photography not being a art form on par with the classics. Bewegungsstudis 1927 is a beautiful composition of balance like a ballet frozen at its most dramatic moment, this photograph along with others by Koppitz show the beauty of the human form, but always as part of a unknown drama. Koppitz was a leading member of the Modernist movement in Vienna during the late 20s but sadly died at the young age of 52 in 1936.
Bewengungsstudie (Movement Study), 1926, Rudolf Koppitz
Rudolf Koppitz Bewegungsstudie RPS Collection

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Audrey Hepburn 1950 by Angus McBean
The publics fascination with Audrey Hepburn even twenty one years after her death is as potent today as it ever was. The National Portrait Gallery London have reported massive pre-sales for their featured exhibition Audrey Hepburn later in the year. Perhaps it was her air of serenity tinged with a melancholic  sadness that touched people so much, she was quoted as saying” I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone”. Angus McBean  had a special relationship with Hepburn and took many pictures of her. Born in South Wales in 1904 McBean interest in photography started like many others with a Kodak Autograph at the age of 15, but only after moving to London after the death of his father did his career take off when photographs he exhibited in a teashop caught the attention of a well known photographer Hugn Cecil who offered McBean a job in his studio. He went on to become one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of his time.

These pictures make up just a tiny part of this amazing exhibition which is on at the Science Museum’s Media Space till -1 March 2015 and from 20 March 2015 till 21 June 2015 at The National Media Museum Bradford. 2017 Ress=Engellhorn-Museum Germany.
Admission £8 Concessions £5(including donation).

Coming soon to the Science Museum, the next exhibition in the Media Space.
Revelations: Experiments in Photography/Media Space Science which opens 20 March to 13 September.
The first exhibition to examine how the themes and aesthetics of early scientific photography influenced some of the 20th century’s most significant art photography.


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