Saturday, March 19, 2011

London Photographs

We spent Friday morning at the National Portrait Gallery, one of my favourite institutions in London. We saw two photograph exhibitions, one the work of E.O. Hoppé, and the other focusing on Ida Kar. Both constituted brilliant surveys of their respective cultural and historical milieux. Hoppé recorded some wonderfully human, candid portraits -- he was apparently interested in the diversity of London's population at the time and also curious about why some people achieved the level deserving of his studio portraiture while others struggled to make a living.  His studies of women, of people on the street, of girls at reform school, of new military recruits are all fascinating, as is his pantheon of portraits of the century's artists, writers, dancers, actors, and politicians. Wonderful portraits of Nijinksy and Thomas Hardy and Ezra Pound among many others.

Ida Kar similarly lived among a surfeit of talent, and she recorded it well. I was particularly struck by this in the portrait she took of Bertrand Russell sitting for sculptor Jacob Epstein. My little notebook is full of illustrious names whose portraits I devoured. I'm seriously considering breaking our carry-on limits to bring back the catalogue books for both exhibits, and Pater's right there with me. We haven't bought them yet, not wanting to haul them over to Paris, but will probably pick them up when we're back here at the end of April.
I try to jot enough down to remember what I've seen, but I've found visual memory is not my strength and I love having the books to refer back to.

Pater's getting much more keen on helping out with the photography, and snapped this shot of me scribbling in my Moleskine.

But then he decided that he'd keep up his role as cameraman, and had me stand outside in the rain while he shot another . . . Too cute, that boy.

Pater as Portrait Photographer . . . Will Hostess note that I'm wearing the scarf I won in her contest last year? It seems to be enjoying the galleries as well . . .

Friday night Pater and I watched a very intense, dark play starring Matthew Fox (Jack from Lost) and Olivia Williams (I last saw her in An Education, and before that in Dollhouse).
This morning, we Eurostarred it to Paris and are supposed to meet a friend for an evening of jazz tonight. Our apartment is well appointed, very nicely situated, and we're going to settle in now for a rest before heading out again. A bientôt.

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