Elton John’s Renowned Photo Collection To Show at Tate Modern

The exhibition will feature portraits of many 20th-century icons.

Elton John Photo: Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan.

Photo buffs likely know that famed musician Elton John is also a renowned photography collector, with extensive holdings of heavy hitters like Ansel Adams, Irving Penn, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Soon, the public will get a glimpse of the Rocket Man’s collection, thanks to an exhibition at London’s Tate Modern.

“The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection,” opening in November, will feature over 150 photographs from more than 60 artists, taken between the 1920s and the 1950s, from a collection that reportedly features about 7,000 prints. The show will include the work of seminal photographers like André Kertész, Berenice Abbot, Alexandr Rodchenko, and Edward Steichen.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Sir Elton John stands in front of Man Ray's 1926 silver gelatin print, "Noire et Blanche," one of the 380 works from John's the private collection which will be on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia beginning in November, 2000. John's photos, which were amassed over the past 10 years and number more than 2000, includes works by many of the most famous photographers in the world, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, and Edward Weston. AFP PHOTO Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Sir Elton John stands in front of Man Ray’s 1926 silver gelatin print, “Noire et Blanche.” 
Photo: HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images.

It will feature portraits of 20th-century icons like Georgia O’Keeffe (shot by Alfred Stieglitz), Edward Weston (shot by Tina Modotti), Jean Cocteau (shot by Berenice Abbott), Igor Stravinsky (shot by Weston), and Andre Breton, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Dora Maar (all shot by Man Ray). John has been amassing the collection of Man Ray portraits for over 25 years, and this is the first time they will be shown together.

“The modernist era in photography is one of the key moments within the medium and collecting work from this period has brought me great joy over the last 25 years,” John said in a statement. “Each of these photographs serves as inspiration for me in my life; they line the walls of my homes and I consider them precious gems.”

The museum has been under renovation, constructing a £260-million ($401-million) Herzog & de Meuron-designed extension that’s slated to open in June 2016 with a hotly-anticipated Georgia O’Keeffe survey.

“The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection” will be on display at Tate Modern, London, from November 10, 2016–May 7, 2017. 


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