Written by Misc, Photography

Space, The World, Fashion and Portraits

I spent Saturday catching up on a number of exhibitions that I’ve been meaning to see, but which for various reasons, I’d not gotten around to. And there’s the small matter that some of them are closing quite soon.
Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis is the result of a massive multi-year undertaking of the Brazilian photographer most famous for his pictures of gold mining. He shoots in black and white, and the majesty of his photos is remarkable – from Antarctic icebergs to the Sahara and all points in between and beyond.
In truth it can actually be quite overwhelming – even the simplest portrait will often have an amazing vista in the background. Nonetheless, a remarkable set of photos. And perhaps you just need lots of time to drink them in.
The exhibition is only open until 8 September.
Over at the National Portrait Gallery, they have an exhibition of paintings by Laura Knight – more specifically her portraits. I was woefully ignorant of her, so this exhibition served to get me up to speed with her work to some extent. I loved some of her war paintings, with her picture of the Nuremberg trial being especially powerful. But some of her earlier pictures – and indeed her later ones are much lighter in tone. Well worth a visit.
The exhibition continues until 13th Ocober.
Miles Aldridge is a photographer who primarily does fashion work – working in particular for Italian Vogue. I think I was probably drawn to this exhibition by the publicity shot featuring a model who appear almost as a mannequin in an outfit with a very sixties vibe, on the floor of a primary coloured kitchen floor with a spilt meal. Not being a big fashion magazine reader, I was unlikely to ever come across his work in the wild!
That piece is an accurate reflection of much of Aldridge’s work on display in this exhibition to coincide with the release of a new book of his work. The imagery is bold, highly saturated, and informed by films. The notes mention David Lynch and Hitchcock. But also The Stepford Wives in his First Impression series. The pictures are simply, but smartly laid out.
The exhibition continues until 29th September.
Finally, the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich has its Visions of the Universe exhibition, which collects together some remarkable photographs taken either from earth, telescopes in orbit, or elsewhere in space. Although many of these photos are familiar if you’ve ever looked at a book or website of pictures from the Hubble space telescope, they still look magnificent when properly presented. And in amidst these photos are a smattering of perhaps less familiar images that have won photographic competitions.
It’s not solely video. For example, there’s a beautiful projection of the “Black Marble” – an animation based on the light given off from towns and cities at night (I’ve turned it into a moving wallpaper on my Android tablet). And there’s a large scale series of panoramic shots of the surface of Mars. You can’t help but leave impressed with the beauty of the universe.
The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Sir Patrick Moore, and it continues until 15th September.
A little side note now on exhibition catalogues. Now I can be a bit of a sucker for some of these. If I’ve enjoyed an exhibition, I’m far likelier to buy the catalogue than postcards. But I need the price to be vaguely reasonable for me to do it. And it’s one thing if the cost in the gift shop is a couple of quid more than on Amazon, but when there’s a £10-20 price difference, it becomes a bit problematic even for a catalogue-sucker like me.
At Genesis, the end of the exhibition advertised a limited edition of Sebastião Salgado’s new book costs £2,500 (It is very big in fairness). So perhaps the more widely available edition at £45 seems reasonable. Yes it’s in hardback, and yes the pictures are wonderful. But that’s still pricey. And on Amazon the same book costs a little under £28.
At Somerset House, the exhibition is, in truth, to promote the sale of Miles Aldridge’s new book. And the Somerset House price is only a modest £7 more than the Amazon price (although in their Marketplace, you can get it another few pounds cheaper again). But there’s also a limited edition that costs £6,500 + VAT. I think I’d want him to come round and take my portrait for that price!
Some museums and galleries seem to have a sort of solution to the Amazon issue, and either don’t release their catalogues to the retailer until after the exhibition has concluded, or make them quite hard to get. So the Laura Knight catalogue is theoretically undercut by nearly £10 at Amazon, but there’s no guarantee of stock. I did buy a catalogue at the National Portrait Gallery itself.
But sometimes, you just think museums are missing a trick. There wasn’t a catalogue that I could see either in the shop or online for the Visions of the Universe exhibition. There were plenty of things to buy ranging from prints and postcards to related books. Indeed you could even buy a travel pillow or bowl decorated with space imagery. But there wasn’t a specific book of the photos from the exhibition. A shame.
However given how many of the photos came from things like Hubble, a large number of the photos are available online, and in very high resolution. And I noted down a lot of the details of pictures I particularly liked while I walked around so that I could find them afterwards. Perhaps I’ll print my own favourite photos.