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Arts

Elton John's private photo collection on show at London's Tate Modern

Some 190 rare vintage prints by artists like Man Ray and Dorothea Lange are on display at the Tate Modern. They are part of Elton John's personal collection of modernist photography.

While Elton John is known for being a colorful figure, his private collection of modernist photography, dating from 1915 to 1950, is mainly black and white.

Dozens of vintage images from John's collection go on show on Thursday in "The Radical Eye," an exhibition at London's Tate Modern.

"This is the first time that some of these works are being shown in the UK and it will be the first time that a younger generation of viewers will have the opportunity to see these masterpieces," curator Shoair Mavlian told DW.

Many of the works usually hang in John's residences. One highlight - "Noire et Blanche" by surrealist photographer Many Ray - is otherwise kept in the performer's bedroom.

Elton John (imago/Xinhua)

Elton John got sober in 1990 and began collecting photographs

Some two dozen works in the show were done by Ray, including "Glass Tears," which John bought in a 1993 Sotheby's auction for the record price of nearly $200,000. Now, these photos could rake in millions.

John has said that he began collecting photographs in the 1990s after overcoming alcoholism, saying he replaced alcohol with "a much healthier addiction." He has since acquired some 8,000 images.

"Photography became this incredible companion," John said. "It went hand in hand with my sobriety, which was also fresh and a release. I was like a kid in a candy store."

The exhibition, which runs through May 7, also includes works by street photography pioneer Andre Kertesz, New York chronicler Berenice Abbott and avant-garde Russian Alexander Rodchenko. Irving Penn's portraits of artistic figures like Duke Ellington, Salvador Dali, Noel Coward and Elton John himself can also be seen.

The collection represents a period when photography was blossoming into an art form and photographers were eagerly experimenting and establishing their own visual language.

Watch the video above for a glimpse of "The Radical Eye" exhibition.

kbm/eg (AP, Reuters)

 

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