The Michael Hoppen Gallery is delighted to present a selection of previously unreleased work by legendary British fashion photographer Tim Walker. We are very proud to be bringing an exclusive show of his work to Paris Photo to coincide with his major retrospective exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (Wonderful Things, 2019) and his first solo exhibition at our gallery in London (Wonderful People, 2019). Both of these exhibitions will be open in London during ParisPhoto. Walker’s photography has graced the pages of magazines around the world for more than two decades, and whilst iconic and much-coveted in publication, they have a completely different presence as pictures framed on the wall.
Wonderful Things / Wonderful People
We will be displaying new photographs, many of which were specially commissioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, which will be available to collectors for the first time. As part of the preparations for the largest show dedicated to a living artist in the museum’s history, Walker spent time over three years exploring the collections held across its 145 galleries. “To me, the V&A has always been a palace of dreams – it’s the most inspiring place in the world,” Walker said. “The museum’s collection is so wide and eclectic, and I think that’s why it resonates with me so much.” Incorporating elements from across the V&A’s rich and varied history, Walker approached this project from a different perspective to that which he usually brings to his fashion pictures: “I wanted to try to create a photograph that would relate not only to the physical presence and beauty of that object, but also to my emotional reaction to it.”
This selection, in bringing together a new grouping of Walker’s unreleased work, reveals a darker departure in his recent photography. The playful visual vernacular upon which Walker’s reputation was founded has taken a brooding turn of late, with a complex palette and the occasional hint of black humour creeping into his fashion illustrations and portraiture. Drawing on diverse influences such as the gothic imagination of Victorian illustrators like Aubrey Beardsley, Walker blends a kaleidoscope of his latest creative stimuli in his opulently layered new work.
Technique Walker’s approach to photography is characterised by an almost cinematic eye for detail, which is underpinned by a committed focus on the theatrical mechanics of the photo-shoot. He has long abstained from using editing software like Photoshop to artificially create the fantastical elements so conspicuously present throughout his work. Instead, over the years Walker has built up a dedicated team including set-designer Shona Heath, stylists like Katy England, costumiers, prop-makers and models – most notably enduring muses Tilda Swinton, Kate Moss, and Kristen McMenamy, who are similarly committed to carrying out his extraordinary vision. Walker and his cohort of long-term collaborators create unique performances at each photoshoot, constructing every aspect of the picture in accordance with exacting plans, to deliver the final photograph. The meticulous manual fabrication of these dense images somehow contributes a sense of domestically conjured surreality to Walker’s work – an extension of the English aristocratic tradition of dressing up and country house performance which he has drawn upon so fruitfully throughout his career.