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Indepth Arts News:

"Guy Bourdin in the Main Galleries as Prep is Made for New Galleries"
2003-04-17 until 2003-08-17
Victoria and Albert Museum
London, , UK

The V&A will open a new Photography Gallery in May 2003 which will highlight works from the V&A's world-renowned photography collection, show displays of images by major photographers and feature new acquisitions. The opening display will feature the pioneering seascapes by the 19th century French artist Gustave Le Gray (Sea and Sky: Photographs by Gustave Le Gray, 1856-1857 - 8 May to 3 August 2003). From 2003, the V&A will also hold a major photography exhibition each year in its main exhibition galleries, beginning with Guy Bourdin (17 April - 17 August 2003, supported by Canon).

The new Photography Gallery will provide visitors with a superb resource, serving as an introduction to the history of photography and to the national collection of the art of photography. The photography collection began in 1852 and now holds 300,000 images. The gallery will showcase around 70 classic photographs from the V&A collection on a rotating basis, displaying works from the birth of photography in 1839 to the present day. The works will illustrate a wide range of processes, styles and imagery from classic to contemporary, including such photographers as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eadweard Muybridge, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Brandt, Irving Penn, William Eggleston and Cindy Sherman amongst others.

The gallery will also include a programme of small displays, changing four times a year, which will highlight outstanding works by historic and contemporary photographers and show recent acquisitions. The opening display will feature the rare seascapes of the 19th century French photographer Gustave Le Gray. These were taken in Normandy in the summer of 1856 and on the Mediterranean coast during the spring of 1857.

Le Gray's exquisite tonal quality, impressive scale and innovative exposure and printing methods set high technical and artistic standards during the 1850s. His images explore the potential of the nautical setting, from empty skies and calm waters to brooding cloudscapes and turbulent waves. He enlivened the scenes with figures, jetties, beaches and seagoing vessels. With these simple notes, he composed a series of images that are striking in their subtlety and grandeur.

A special program showing a selection of images drawn from the V&A collection will be available in the gallery computer area which will include audio and text on the history of photography, its processes and techniques. This program will also be accessible via the V&A web site www.vam.ac.uk.

The V&A's major photography exhibition for 2003, Guy Bourdin, will be shown in the Museum's Contemporary Space. In spring 2004, the V&A will hold an exhibition of the works of Bill Brandt and in autumn 2005, a Diane Arbus retrospective.

Guy Bourdin
Copyright the Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2003

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