For this year’s edition of Paris Photo, the Michael Hoppen Gallery has curated an exhibition of exquisite, unique works. The term ‘unique’ has become ubiquitous, but we use it here in its true sense, meaning ‘one of kind’.
The advent of digital photography has seen a shift away from traditional photographic processes and print-making. We are delighted to present a group of unique objects, including hand-coloured silver gelatin prints, polaroids, and photocollages by some of the most significant masters of the twentieth century.
Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012) was amongst the most radical of his generation. In his playful series Private Scenes of 1991, he turned his camera on himself, capturing his profile against the backdrop of his everyday normality. Each of these prints is a hand-coloured, unique self-portrait produced 20 years before the global trend of the monotonous iphone ‘selfie’ with which we are familiar today.
The gallery will present two exceptional examples of post-war Japanese Modernism: a extremely rare collage by Kiyohiko Komura, which resonates with the influences of European Surrealism; and another collage from the same year, 1950, by Kansuke Yamamoto, his “Floating City”.
In 1928 the first photobooth arrived in Paris. Patented by Anatol Josepho in 1925, this automatic machine produced a unique strip of photographs without the intervention of a human operator. No one was more excited than the leader of the Surrealist movement, André Breton, who was first in the queue and brought along his circle of friends to try it out as part of a Dadaesque experiment. The gallery will display three sets of unique photobooth strips from this period, including an enigmatic portrait of Yves Tanguy. Alongside these is Paul Facchetti’s extraordinary portrait of André Breton himself, from the year 1953.
We are thrilled to be exhibiting a group of John Bulmer’s evocative ‘Night Climbers’ which were shot in Cambridge in 1958-1960 when he was an intrepid student at King’s. Camouflaged beneath the nocturnal sky, the daredevil explorers traverse the urban environment using techniques traditionally found in bouldering and rock climbing. The intricacies of the city’s gothic architecture provide climbing surfaces that are not dissimilar from the crimps and holds found on mountains or artificial climbing walls.
Just weeks before Bulmer was due to take the final exams of his engineering degree, he was expelled for a series of photographs he took of student climbers scaling King’s College Chapel which were published in The Sunday Times. Leaving for London upon his expulsion, Bulmer was offered a position working at the Daily Express, and went on to achieve tremendous acclaim as a photojournalist with a career spanning over 60 years.
A wall of the booth will be dedicated to a group of photographs by the contemporary Danish photographer Krass Clement, from his series Drum, which takes its name from the eponymous Irish village where all the photographs were shot over the course of one evening in a small pub in 1991. The images are darkly atmospheric, almost melancholic, as Clement’s assiduous eye captures the men’s pensive expressions and the deep lines of their faces. In the sparse text that accompanies the photographs, the reader is informed that the pub was the meeting place for local Protestants in what is otherwise a predominantly Catholic region.
Clement’s beautiful, richly toned silver gelatin prints will be juxtaposed by the works of Ukrainian photographer and former rocket engineer, Boris Savelev. Savelev’s multi-layered pigment prints on aluminium are produced by master printers Factum Arté in Madrid. His works of elegant observational realism are focussed on light and form – a constructivist aesthetic that Savelev credits to his 'methodical, scientific background'. These views of the artist’s hometown, Czernowitz in Ukraine, dating back to the 1980s, feel particularly poignant now.