Photos without a camera? Exhibition shows it's old hat

Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:46am EDT
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By Nigel Stephenson

ST IVES, England (Reuters) - The English seaside town of St Ives has long attracted leading modern artists and a new exhibition there looks at how modernist photographers from across the globe developed new ways of seeing a rapidly changing world.

The Modern Lens, at Tate St Ives until May 10, includes works by photographers from Europe, North and South America and Japan, working between the 1920s and 1960s.

St Ives, 280 miles (450 km) from London, attracted major artists, particularly after World War Two, including sculptor Barbara Hepworth and abstract painters Ben Nicholson and Patrick Heron.

"We felt that it was a really important exhibition to bring together, to think about how modernism has developed in photography, but also to think about that in relation to wider art practice," said Sara Matson, one of the exhibition's curators.

"We have arranged the show geographically, through various places in the world, and that resonates with the very particular place St Ives is."

A key influence on several of the featured photographers was Germany's Bauhaus art school, established in 1919, and one of its teachers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

His fotograms, images taken without a camera by exposing photographic paper to light, feature in the exhibition.

"He talks about the camera, using new technology to see the world in new ways and better ways that would prevent us from having a new world war," said another of The Modern Lens's curators, Laura Smith.   Continued...

A Sotheby's employee poses with artist  Barbara Hepworth's  "Vertical Form (St Ives)" at Sotheby's auction house in London November 14, 2014.    REUTERS/Luke MacGregor