NIGEL HENDERSON made his name taking photographs of post- war London. WOLFGANG SUSCHITZKY found fame through his work on Get Carter. Both changed the course of modern photography. Words: Jack Mottram
wo shows open this fortnight
examining the careers of two
of the most influential practitioners of documentary photography in 2(lth century. Wolfgang Suschitzky and Nigel Henderson are artists who have been overlooked or overshadowed.
Suschitxky's pioneering photographic work has long been eclipsed by his career as a cinematographer and documentary filmmaker. froin feature work on (let (‘arler to his (la/(Iran ()‘l‘l‘lu' ('ity. filmed in (ilasgow and Dundee.
‘l’erhaps the key point is that his photography has always been seen as subordinate to his filmmakingf says curator Duncan liot’bes. ‘lle‘s always been regarded as one of the most significant cinematographers of the 20th century and he always articulated his images singly. instead of going out and photographing extended documentary projects. So in order to understand the processes of his photography. you really have to feed off the knowledge of his Iilmmaking.’
Suschit/ky‘s work also stands out in contrast to both the documentary work of his contemporaries and current practice. ‘He is a documentary photographer. but operating on the margins of the profession as it was being detined.‘ says Forbes ‘lle made his name in 1940 with photographs of children. which broke the formalised studio portraits of the 20s to produce much more equalised. tnuch more egalitarian images. He also worked in the 30s photographing animals. removing the signs of captivity and creating fairly anthropomorphic images. This was very popular at the time. and very innovative. but what’s interesting now is that these images are more problematic. with the implications of the animal rights
movement. and you have to read them in a particular
While Sttschit/hy‘s fame as a cinenuttographer has marginalised his photographic endeavours. Nigel Henderson is known chiefly as a documentary photographer despite his groundbreaking experiments in the medium and influential position in pre and post- war line art movements.
‘llenderson is traditionally associated with straight documentary photography in the liast [ﬁnd of l.ondon.' says Victoria Walsh. who curated the show. “Initially this was more as a therapeutic process: he had a nervous breakdown at the end of the war and just began walking the streets of the liast lind seeing these new
80 THE LIST '-'- I“, i -':l. i“
‘It wasn’t seen as art, it was almost seen as heresy to include these
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Gordon Street from Central Station, Glasgow by Wolfgang Suschitzky
sights. The liast lind wasn’t only impoverished. it had also suffered incredible bomb damage. which is in stark contrast to Henderson‘s own background. He had married into the Bloomsbury set. and through his association with Peggy Guggenheim had met all of the major surrealists before the war. So he was coming from this incredibly culturally rich and vibrant background. and to find himself in the liast lind opened his eyes to a new world. and he took the opportunity to document what was a passing world.'
In addition to his surrealist connections. Henderson was at the centre of the British art explosion of the 50s. collaborating with liduardo Paolo/xi and the architects Alison and Peter Smithson. and the centrepiece of the Dean (iallery show is a recreation of the four‘s
influential installation. Parallel Of
Life And AM.
‘When it was shown in 1953. Parallel Of Life And Art was seen as an incredibly radical exhibition.’ says Walsh. ‘lt wasn‘t made up of works of art. it was made up of photographic images drawn from a diverse range of sources. from scientific manuals. from geological surveys — an extraordinary breadth of imagery. At the time it certainly wasn‘t seen as art. it was almost seen as heresy to include these images. and in the medium of photography.‘
‘We‘re also showing experimental work.‘ Walsh adds. ‘including photograms. in the tradition of the Bauhaus and people like Lee Miller. composed out of bomb debris. And there's what Henderson described as "stressed images". which are just incredibly beautiful. made by distorting the negative and distorting the paper as they were being printed.'
This is a rare chance to discover the lesser—known works of two artists who. in very different ways. changed the course of modern photographic practice.
Nigel Henderson is at the Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 16 Feb—Sun 7 Apr and Wolfgang Suschitzky is at the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Fri 22 Feb-Sun 19 May.
News from the world of art
SUBMISSIONS ARE INVITED for the PizzaExpress Prospects 2002 national contemporary drawing prize. Now in its third year. a 210.000 prize is on offer as well as special recognition prizes for final year students. Heading this year's judging panel is the father of British pop art. Peter Blake. Entry details for the awards can be obtained by writing to: PizzaExpress Prospects 2002. 22 Endell Street. London, WC2H 9A0 or email firstname.lastname@example.org GLASGOW’S KELVINGROVE Museum and Art gallery has been given the go ahead to begin major refurbishment with the announcement of £12.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, its largest award in Scotland. The A- listed building, which opened in 1902, will undergo a makeover costing £25.5m which will increase exhibition space by 35% and the number of objects on display by 50%. The Kelvingrove is Britain’s most visited museum outside London and houses works by Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt. The Kelvingrove New Century Project will commence with a £7m open-access heritage centre being built in Nitshill which will house around 200,000 items normally kept in store.
Kelvingrove gets a revamp
APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED for the ROSL Arts Travel Scholarship 2002. Open to artists who are citizens of the UK. aged up to and including 35 as of 31 December, the award will enable the winner to spend a minimum of four weeks in a Commonwealth c0untry or coontries of their choice. Artists sh0u|d submit 35mm colour slides or three to six works completed Since 1 January 2001 in oil. watercolour. drawrng. mixed media. prints Or semi-relief. Deadline for Submissions is Sunday 31 March. FOr more information contact ROSL Arts. Over-Seas Hoase. Park Place. St James's Street. London. SW1A tLR Or phone 020 7408 0214 x219: email: Culture@rosl.org.uk