Eyewitness at the Royal Academy

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I went recently to see an exhibition of Hungarian photography at the Royal Academy. The exhibition is called Eyewitness (open until 2nd October), a very appropriate name - it shows how the history of Hungarian photography acts as a witness to many of the most significant best/worst historical moments throughout the 20th century.

Artistic trends such as Bauhaus and abstraction are reflected in the photography, as well as giving a chronicle of how photography developed from amateur photo-players to professional fashion and journalism.

Much of the photography was incredibly angular, shooting at acute and implausible angles. Whereas now we can zoom in and out of the world at the click of a button, then this must have felt revolutionary.

There were lots of photographs to enjoy, here are just some of my favourites.

This photo by Robert Capa shows a French woman who had a baby with a German soldier during World War 2 being led through the streets of Chartres. The photo below - also by Robert Capa - shows  the destruction of Budapest's Elisabeth Bridge.

The photo below - Harvest by Erno Vadas - shows the beginning of abstract patterns and shapes.

Cornell Capa's image of Winchester College shows implausible angles.

To which Lazlo Maholy-Nagy's image from Berlin's TV Tower adds abstract shapes.

Martin Munkácsi's fashion image from Harper's Bazaar

Probably my favourite image: Procession by Erno Vadas

And finally, this book cover by Gyorgy Lorinczy shows how many Hungarian photographs found an excellent subject in the skyscraper and concrete world of New York.