Press Release

Tate and Photography

Shomei Tomatsu Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki 1963

Shomei Tomatsu
Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki 1963

© Shomei Tomatsu – interface. Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo

Tate and Photography

Tate today announced the results of its continuing commitment to photography over the past five years, as a major new exhibition Conflict, Time, Photography opens at Tate Modern. Since 2010, Tate has acquired work by over 160 photographers from around the world, quadrupling its holdings of photography in the collection. The dramatic increase reflects photography’s ever more important role in contemporary artistic practices and international visual culture. These successes follow the appointment of Tate’s first curator dedicated to photography, Simon Baker, in 2009 and the formation of a Photography Acquisitions Committee in 2010. 

Nearly 3,000 photographic works from around the world have joined Tate’s collection in this period, with over 1,000 more already promised as gifts. Highlights include a collection of iconic images ofLondonfrom the 1880s to the 2000s, donated by Eric and Louise Franck. There are also over 300 works by Harry Shunk and János Kender being donated to Tate by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, as well as many important photographs donated by Jane and Michael Wilson. Other key acquisitions have included such renowned international photographers as Nobuyoshi Araki, Harry Callahan, Miyako Ishiuchi, Don McCullin, Daido Moriyama, and Jane and Louise Wilson among many others. 

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said:

“Photography is a key medium of the modern era, and its importance is greater today than ever before. I am delighted that so many people have helped Tate to build its collection in this field, and to share it with the public through the displays and exhibitions at our galleries and elsewhere.” 

Tate also continues to stage major photography exhibitions at all four galleries inLondon,Liverpooland St Ives. Bringing together loans from around the world alongside its own collection, these range from solo retrospectives to international group shows. Current and upcoming exhibitions include: 

  • Conflict, Time, Photography
    Tate Modern,26 November 2014–15 March 2015
    This group show reveals how artists have used the camera to reflect on moments of conflict, from the seconds after a bomb is detonated to a hundred years after a war has ended. 
  • Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840 – 1860
    Tate Britain, 25 February –7 June 2015
    This will be the first exhibition inBritaindevoted to salted paper prints. It will offer a unique opportunity to see the world’s rarest and best early photographs of this type. 
  • Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process
    Tate Britain, 10 March – 17 May 2015
    This project offers a powerful commentary on destruction and creative renewal, juxtaposing images of McQueen’s final fashion collection with photographs of recycling plants and landfills.
  • György Kepes
    Tate Liverpool, 6 March –7 June 2015
    The first UK solo exhibition of this Hungarian artist will showcase the experimental photograms and photomontages he produced at the New Bauhaus school in the 1930s.

Alongside these exhibitions, photography has become further integrated into the free collection displays at Tate’s galleries. Current highlights include: 

  • Poetry and Dream on Level 2 of Tate Modern includes Henry Wessel, a monographic display depicting life on the American West Coast, and Close-up: Identity and the Photographic Portrait, which juxtaposes portraits of urban street life by Lisette Model and Paz Errázuriz. 
  • Structure and Clarity on Level 4 of Tate Modern includes Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s images of Soviet architecture in Armenia as well as a gallery of Italian Modernist Photography, featuring the work of Piergiorgio Branzi, Alfredo Camisa, Giuseppe Cavalli and Luigi Veronesi 
  • BP Spotlights at Tate Britain has a display of work by Karren Knorr, drawn from the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection and depicting people  homes andLondon gentlemen’s clubs in the 1970s and 1980s. 

2015 will also be an outstanding year for ARTIST ROOMS photography exhibitions taking place around theUK. Jointly owned by Tate and the National Galleries ofScotland, the ARTIST ROOMS collection was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments. Alongside exhibitions of such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol, the programme will bring key photography shows to venues inEngland,ScotlandandWales: 

  • Don McCullin
    Bonhoga Gallery and Shetland Museum & Archives,29 November 2014–22 February 2015 
  • Diane Arbus
    Kirkcaldy Galleries, 14 February – 31 May 2015 
  • Robert Mapplethorpe
    Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery, 28 February – 23 May 2015
    Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 8 August –7 November 2015
    The Bowes Museum, County Durham, 28 November 2015–26 April 2016