This winter, London‘s National Gallery presented a major exhibition of photography for the first time in its nearly 200-year history. Major galleries in the U.S. have been taking photography seriously for a long time, but it’s been only recently that U.K. institutions have begun to celebrate this eminently accessible art form. That history-making National Gallery show, Seduced By Art: Photography Past and Present, has now closed. But London is still the place for fantastic photography exhibitions, from documentary and portraiture to fashion and abstraction.
More classic photography can be found just round the corner from the National Gallery, at Man Ray Portraits. It’s the first-ever retrospective of the great artist’s photographic portraiture and offers a tantalizing glimpse into his seemingly glamorous existence. From the gorgeous, experimental “solarized” portraits of Man Ray’s lover and collaborator Lee Miller, to fashion photography, to shots of some of the 20th century’s most influential artists at rest and play, this is a hugely evocative show. Until May 27
Another photographer who inhabits both the art world and the commercial sphere is the U.K.-based German artist Juergen Teller. This show focuses on Teller’s often-provocative celebrity portraits — including a recent series showing Vivienne Westwood in the nude — as well as family photographs and landscapes. What makes his work so interesting is the humor and lack of pretension that informs it. Some of these photographs may shock, but take a closer look and you’ll find an artist with a nuanced and curious gaze. Until March 17
This exhibition of contemporary photography from and about the Middle East is guaranteed to challenge preconceptions of this fascinating region. The show is divided into three sections: photography as recording device; works in which pictures are reframed to change their meanings; and works that question the medium of photography itself. Iranian photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian’s Mothers of Martyrs (2006), in which women are photographed with portraits of their sons killed in action, are strikingly framed and very moving, while Jowhara AlSaud’s imaginative pieces employ postmodern techniques to explore issues of censorship. Until April 7
And of course, we mustn’t forget The Photographers’ Gallery, a wonderful resource for photography fans that’s open all year round. Currently showing is Perspectives on Collage, an exhibition exploring eight approaches to collage in photography. Until April 7
Photo Courtesy of Man Ray