Elton John Is as Radical as Ever

Sir Elton John began collecting photographs on a serious level after completing rehab in 1990. Since then he’s gathered over 8,000, many of them modernist masterpieces, most from the early 20th century, and 191 of them now on display at Tate Modern in London. All original vintage prints by the artists themselves, they’re grouped exactly as they hang in his home in Atlanta.

Man Ray’s avant-portraiture forms the crux of the collection, which also includes landmark works by Andre Kertész, Dorothea Lange, Irving Penn, Edward Steichen, and Alexander Rodchenko. It’s easy to see how Ray’s experiments in shape, perspective, lighting, and surrealism would be appreciated by the musical prodigy revered as much for his flamboyant early stage persona as his later acts of unwavering philanthropy. He’s the champion of nonconformism and defender of radicalism, in art as in life, thus the title of the exhibition.

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection, Nov 8, 2016 – May 7, 2017, Tate Modern, London

Irving Penn, Salvador Dali, 1947

Man Ray, Kiki de Montparnasse, 1926

Herbert Bayer, Self-Portrait, 1932

André Kertész, Underwater Swimmer, Esztergom, 1917

Alexander Rodchenko, Shukov Tower, 1920

Man Ray, Nusch Éluard, 1928

Otto Umbehr, Cat, 1927

Edward Weston, Nude 227N, 1936

Ilse Bing, Willem, Dancer, 1932

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936

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