British photographic history

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Exhibition: An alternative history of photography / London, from 7 October 2022

The Photographers’ Gallery presents An Alternative History of Photography: Works from the Solander Collection, a bold new perspective on the history of photography, which will go on display from 7 October 2022 - 19 February 2023. 

As it is conventionally told, the history of photography is a chain of relationships connecting one great maker to the next. From its invention in the UK and Europe, the real history is much more complicated: it is a vast web of interconnected stories stretching from East Asia to West Africa, and from New Zealand to Uzbekistan, and a complex interplay of fine art, scientific, anthropological, documentary and amateur traditions.

Drawn from the Solander Collection, An Alternative History of Photography presents famous works and major artists seen with fresh eyes, whilst giving unknown pictures and newer discoveries the platform they deserve. Bringing together over 130 works, it parallels acknowledged greats with forgotten masters, and lesser-known works with regional champions.

Featuring unexpected images by legendary figures including Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Man Ray, and Edward Weston, the exhibition positions these alongside those of Helen Stuart and John Lindt, early, self-trained practitioner Lady Augusta Mostyn, and African studio photographers Sanlé Sory, Michel Kameni, and Malick Sidibé.

The exhibition also contains many rarities and ‘firsts’, spanning photography’s early decades, with linchpin works by Sir John Herschel, William Henry Fox Talbot, Hippolyte Bayard, and Julia Margaret Cameron. Highlights also include a stunning photographic ‘altarpiece’ by Austrian performance artist Valie Export, shown alongside an extraordinary hand-coloured assisted self-portrait by the Countess of Castiglione. The American West is seen through the eyes of indigenous artist Richard Throssel. Major early works in Australian photography are shown alongside vintage examples from Chile, China, India, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Russia and others.

Contemporary in outlook and visually captivating, An Alternative History of Photography: Works from the Solander Collection is essential for those seeking an introduction to the field, as well as anyone looking for new ways of reconsidering the traditions and reimagining the expected trajectories of photography.

An Alternative History of Photography: Works from the Solander Collection is curated by Philip Prodger and organised by Curatorial Exhibitions in collaboration with The Photographers' Gallery. The exhibition is accompanied by a major new book published by Prestel. 

An Alternative History of Photography: Works from the Solander Collection
London, The Photographers' Gallery
7 October 2022-19 February 2023

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