Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930–1980 brings together some of the most celebrated names in international photography, from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Eve Arnold, with less familiar photographers to explore the distinctive ways in which they saw and represented this unique location. To coincide with the moment when the eyes of the world are on London, Tate Britain will show over 150 classic photographs that depict the city and its communities from the 1930s to 1980s by photographers for whom London was a foreign city.
Another London shows the city as a dynamic metropolis, richly diverse and full of contrast. Emblems of London which would have been known to visitors, such as pearly kings, red buses, punks and bowler hats, are shown alongside iconic works that include Robert Frank’s London (Stock Exchange) 1951, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photos of George VI’s Coronation, Elliott Erwitt’s image of a rainy London bus stop and Bruce Davidson’s photograph of a child with pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
Another London also explores the urban poor surviving life in the city as pavement artists, beggars and buskers. Wolfgang Suschitzky’s images of working-class families in the East End from the early 1940s and Bill Brandt’s renowned photograph of a housewife in Bethnal Green from 1937 all look at a different side of the city. Later works in the exhibition by Neil Kenlock and Leonard Freed show the city’s growing cultural diversity, while Karen Knorr’s series of punks in the 1970s demonstrates the cultural influences of the period.
Although it is the people that are the focus of this collection of photographs, there are particular reoccurring locations where the photographers chose to capture their subjects. Often these are not the tourist sites of Piccadilly or Trafalgar Square but the river Thames; local markets like Spitalfields, Billingsgate, Petticoat Lane; the parks, pubs and streets; and, significantly for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, royal events – George VI’s and the Queen’s coronations, Princess Anne’s wedding in 1973 and the 1977 Silver Jubilee.
The photographers came from East and West Europe, the Soviet Union, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. All of the photographers had different relationships to London: some came to live here, some arrived as refugees, and others passed through as tourists. Whether seen through the lenses of Al Vandenberg from Massachusetts, James Barnor from Ghana, Willy Ronis from Paris, Ivan Shagin from Moscow and Horacio Coppola from Buenos Aires, their experiences of arriving in the city as foreigners informed their perspectives and shaped the photographs they took, resulting in a body of work as diverse as the city itself.
Another London is curated by Helen Delaney, Assistant Curator, Contemporary British Art, Tate, with Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art, Tate.