British photographic history

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Major photograph collection accepted in lieu of tax

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has issued its 2009/10 Acceptance in Lieu Report. Of interest to BPH is the acceptance of 49 prints from the twentieth century which was settled in August 2009 and are now in the Tate Gallery, London. The collection was used to settle tax worth £227,290. The collection consists of the material described below:

The offer comprised 49 photographs by the following artists: Bernice Abbott (1898-1991), 3 prints; Richard Avenden (1923-2004); Roger Ballen (b.1950); Herbert Bayer (1900-1985); Hou Bo (b.1924); Dorothy Bohm (b.1924); Bill Brandt (1904-1983), 4 prints; Brassaï (1899-1984), 3 prints; Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002); Henri Cartier Bresson (1908-2004), 2 prints; Calum Colvin (b.1961), 12 prints; Martin J Cullen (b.1967); František Drtikol (1883-1961); Elliot Erwitt (b.1928); Robert Frank (b.1924); Jo Alison Feiler (b.1951); Lee Fridlander (b.1934); Tim Gidal (1909-1996); Lucien Hervé (1910-2007); Paul Joyce (b.1944); Dorothea Lange (1895-1965); Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894-1986), 2 prints; Yau Leung (1941-1997); Man Ray (1890-1976); Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989); Dario Mitidieri (b.1959); Irving Penn (1917-2009), 5 prints; Sebastião Salgadio (b.1944); W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978); Peter Suschitzky (b. 1941); Edward Weston (1886-1958), 2 prints and James Van der Zee (1886-1983).

The collection has been assembled over the last 30 years by Barbara Lloyd and the photographers represented include many of the greatest names in photography from the 20th century. Of particular significance are the five images by Irving Penn which include two New York cityscapes of 1947 and 1985; two portraits from New Guinea and Morocco; and a portrait of the French writer Colette of 1960. The Mapplethorpe is a 1976 portrait of the New York singer-songwriter Patti Smith. One of the Edward Weston photographs, taken in 1924, is a dramatic image of the Mexican senator and general, Manuel Hernández Galván, titled Galván Shooting. Galván fought by the side of the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. When Weston took the photograph, Galván was campaigning for political office, but was assassinated shortly after their meeting.

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1935 is one of the outstanding images of the 1930s. In 1960, Lange spoke about taking the photograph: “I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.”

The Panel considered that the collection met the second and third criteria that it was in acceptable condition and fairly valued. The photographs have been permanently allocated to Tate in accordance with the condition of the offeror.

The full AIL Report is here:

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