The Eye Has It

10 Jan

The title of Tate Modern’s exhibition ‘The Radical Eye’ could be easily applied not just to the photographers represented but also to it’s curator who has since 1991 fervently put together one of the best private collections of photographic images in the world. To call Sir Elton John a collector does not do him justice, his radical eye has collected a breath-taking feast of original prints; this show crosses most genres from the first half of the 20th century but the whole collection, some 8000 prints, spans the history of photography. Vintage prints from most of the periods main protagonists arranged thematically in five rooms to illustrate periods of subject emphasis and physical print quality; although John clearly has his favourites, Man Ray pops up in almost every room. However the are some interesting choices from the less well known, a beautiful print from the French surrealist and contemporary of Man Ray, Maurice Tabard. John’s ethos is admirable, he wants to get as close as he can to the original thought; a later print by Kertese of his brother swimming was an early acquisition, but the chance to own the 35mil contact print of the same image was a much stronger attraction, and it is the contact that made it into the show from its usual position above Johns bed. Another indication of the man’s passion is that all the work is framed and hung in various houses owned by the singer around the world. “Each of these photographs serves as an inspiration for me in my life” commented John, if you have any doubt about the power of the still image then this is the show for you, if you already love and appreciate the medium then this is a must see. On at Tate Modern until May 7th 2017.

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