The Culture24 Crystal Ball: Top Photography Exhibitions to see in 2011

By Richard Moss | 28 December 2010
an old sepia photograph of a man with a beard
From the National Media Museum's The Lives of Great Photographers. Julia Margaret Cameron, Carlyle© National Media Museum
The number of outstanding photography exhibitions in UK museums and galleries seems to grow every year, so this year we've decided to give them their own 2011 round-up.

Culture24 Editor Richard Moss picks his way through exhibitions highlighting everything from the earliest masters and top photojournalists to gritty social realism and the glorious colours of Kodachrome.

The National Portrait Gallery
’s Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street (February 17 – May 30) surveys the work of an often-overlooked master of early 20th century photography. E.O. Hoppé’s society portraits of the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Margot Fonteyn and Tilly Losch and photojournalistic studies were the benchmark of interwar photography.

More unabashed glamour at the NPG in the summer when Glamour of the Gods: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation (dates tbc) arrives with portraits from Hollywood’s golden age including career defining images of the likes of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe and Gary Cooper.   

a black and white photo of two children in an alleyway
Paul Trevor - showing at the Walker Art Gallery from June.© National Museums Liverpool
If you prefer gritty social realism then the Walker Art Gallery's Like You’ve Never Been Away (May 13 – September 25) sees the photographs of Paul Trevor return to Merseyside. Trevor captured family life in the estates on the fringes of the city centre in the 1970s.  

A similarly intriguing show opens in the autumn at the National Media Museum in Bradford. Fieldwork: Photographs of Britain 1971 – 1988 (dates tbc) highlights the independent photography movement of the early 1970s via the work of Daniel Meadows who, between 1971 and 1988, produced his powerful record of Urban Society in Britain.  

Before then The Lives of Great Photographers (April 14 – September 4) travels from Fox Talbot through to Weegee to showcase some of the most memorable photographs ever taken – together with the equally remarkable lives of the photographers who snapped them.

There’s a similar theme at Falmouth Art Gallery, where Masters of Photography (February 11 – April 2) combines the work of a stellar line up of photographers including Man Ray, Lee Miller, Eve Arnold and Julia Margaret Cameron with some contemporary masters.  

At the same time they will be looking at the work of documentary photographer Ian Stern, whose archive of negatives resides at the gallery.

Early in the New Year distinctive American photographer Anne Collier opens at Nottingham Contemporary (January 22 – March 27) with an exhibition which looks at the sexual politics of photography from both amateur and fine art. Collier plays with images from popular culture in ways that are subtly autobiographical yet full of originality. 

black and white photo of a crowded Indian sreet scene
Ragu Rai, Migratory workers Kolkata© Ragu Rai
Also in Nottingham, at the New Art Exchange, a retrospective of the great Indian photographer Ragu Rai (January 29 – April 30) reveals the photos that capture the social and political underbelly of the Subcontinent. Rai’s work has appeared in everything from India Today to the New Yorker. This show will illustrate why.  

At the Photographer’s Gallery, they are currently closed as they enter the next phase of their exciting redevelopment programme and preparing for the next Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (offsite at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS April 4 – April 30).

Now in its 15th year the shortlisted artists - Thomas Demand, Roe Ethridge, Jim Goldberg and Elad Lassry - are competing for the £30,000 reward for the most significant contribution to photography in Europe.

The gallery’s offsite project, running on its doorstep in and around Soho, sees artist duo FrenchMottershead poking around to develop a body of work exploring “ideas of identity, social ritual and the borders between public and private realms”.

Swedish artist Anders Peterson will spend what sounds like a very pleasant time during the summer hanging out in bars, cafes, clubs and private residences photographing the people he encounters.

At the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool a powerful exhibition, 42 Women of Sierra Leone, (opening March) comprises 42 portraits taken by photographer Lee Karen Stow of women at home, at work and with their families. The title of the exhibition refers to the life expectancy of women in Sierra Leone.

South Africa is the theme for the museum’s second photography exhibition Living Apart (opening April), which features 90 stunning black and white photographs by Preston-born Ian Berry, portraying life in pre and post-apartheid South Africa.

a colour photo of a man, woman and child on a sofa
Messina/Musina Pieter and Maryna Vermeulen with Timana Phosiwa 2006© Pieter Hugo. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town & Yossi Milo, New York
The V&A's Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (April 12 – July 17) also showcases work by some of the most important post apartheid photographers and explores some complicated yet powerful themes across gender, race, class and politics.

Spring at the V&A brings a display of more than 50 original prints by the dance photographer, Chris Nash (March 19 – August 29). 

The Saatchi Gallery's Out of Focus: Photography Now (dates tbc) is a typically progressive take on things and features an exciting assortment of artist photographers who are stretching the form including Matt Collishaw, Boris Mikhailov, Dan Holdsworth and Meredith Sparks.  

By contrast, The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace is going for a show of classic shots from a subject we never seem to tire of. The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography (October 21 – April 15 2012) features the photography of George Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley and marks the 100th anniversary of Captain Scott’s ill-fated journey to the South Pole.

In Scotland, the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse will be showing Marcus Adams: Royal Photographer (February 25 – June 5). Adams (1875-1959) created a unique record of two generations of royal children.

Ffotogallery, the National Development Agency for photography in Wales is kicking off its year with an exploration of the Welsh landscape. James Morris – a Landscape of Wales (January 13 – February 26) features stunning landscapes that manage to peel away the histories and reveal some of the issues of identity at work in Wales today.

a sepia toned photograph of Victorian soldiers outside a London pub
Street Photography at the Museum of London© Museum of London
Another contrast; Street Photography at the Museum of London (February 18 – September 4) features fascinating shots from an archive of photographs dating from 1860 to the present day revealing how the city and its ordinary people have changed over the years.  

Street photographs are “at the heart of our understanding of London” says the museum. You can judge for yourself from 200 images including snaps by John Thompson, Henry Grant and Roger Mayne.  

A popular theme in 2011, street photography is the focus for the fifth edition of FORMAT, Derby’s international festival of photography and related media (March 4 – April 3).

An exciting exhibition programme includes the street photographs of Amy Stein, Joel Meyerowitz, Raghu Rai and others at QUAD, contemporary Magnum Photographers showcased in the city’s marketplace and the In Public street photographer’s collective taking up residence at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

There's another unflinching look at life at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, where the work of Paul Graham (April 20 – June 19) captures the austerity of life in 1980s recession-hit Britain. His first major UK retrospective is the result of a seemingly mundane but surprising journey he made of the A1 route from London to Edinburgh at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Whitechapel is also showing Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 – 2010 (July 6 – September 16), which includes the German photographer’s early 1980s black and white photographs of cities from New York to Dusseldorf.

His vast new four-metre-long colour photographs of sites such as Cape Canaveral space station are also on show, together with his early series of museum photographs, showing the awe that art inspires on peoples faces. 

Returning to a distinctly British theme, two photography shows at Pallant House in Chichester celebrate an iconic British institution, Butlins holiday camps, which first opened in 1936 as holiday centres for working-class families.

Their Butlins 75th Anniversary exhibition (June 25 – October 2) features specially commissioned photographs by contemporary photographer Anna Fox, together with John Hinde’s remarkable period promotional photos.  

The latter were produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a series of postcards. Elaborately stage-managed, they feature large casts of real holidaymakers acting their allocated roles in Butlin’s lounges, ballrooms and bars.

a photograph of a red room with leopard print upholstered chairs
Kodachrome celebrated at the AOP© Lucy Phillips
Finally, a dominant element of holiday snaps of the fifties, sixties and seventies – Kodachrome slide film – is celebrated in a lively exhibition at the AOP Gallery.  

A Celebration of Kodachrome
(January 8 - February 10) features some classic snaps taken by members of the public together with shots by AOP photographers using the much-vaunted film, which was finally withdrawn by Kodak last year after 74 years.  

Adam Woolfitt is also planning an installation of his collection of Kodachrome slides inviting visitors to take a slide. So you could walk away with your own bit of history.

This of course is just a selection of the many fine photography exhibitions gracing our museums and galleries in 2011 - make sure you check back with Culure24 to keep apace with them all...
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