Several prominent London institutions are all showing photography at once. By something approaching a miracle, almost all are showing it with originality, scholarship and verve. The Barbican and Tate Modern have humdingers of shows already open. So does the Imperial War Museum, with an exciting show devoted to the war photography of Cecil Beaton. The Victoria and Albert Museum is due to showcase the new UK collection of Middle Eastern photography in the next days. The Photographers’ Gallery has a thought-provoking exhibition, Shoot! .
And at the Financial Times, our seasonal auction is coming around again. The Financial Times and The Global Fund for Children photography auction 2012 will be held on November 15 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. The prints will be on show at the Financial Times on November 13-14 and may be viewed online at ft.com/appeal. The event will be hosted by Adrian Biddell of Sotheby’s.
It’s a small auction, one that brings together a number of photographic tendencies. Sports photography, for example, is well represented. Archives have been mined for treasures, notably in the prints by Beaton and by Slim Aarons. A lovely triptych by Jonathan Knowles is one of the highlights of the sale. Knowles is a specialist commercial photographer who does liquids: his triptych looks like a Karl Blossfeldt nature study, and anybody who thinks it ‘just’ commercial photography will be missing both an opportunity and the point.
David Burnett’s study of the spectators at Cape Canaveral for the launch of Apollo XI speaks of the vanished optimism of 1969. A fine magazine reporter, Burnett created 44 Days (about the Iranian revolution) one of the great documents of journalism of any kind. Another fine war photographer, James Nachtwey, is well represented (pictured: ‘Boy on Tank, Nicaragua’, 1984), and so is Stuart Franklin with his unforgettable study of a man with shopping bags stopping the tanks in Tiananmen Square.
It’s a good sale, in a good season. Collectors can wake up; London is no longer a photographic backwater.
For information and online bidding (now open), go to www.ft.com/appeal