Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography

The birth of photography coincided with the rapid growth of the Western metropolis. Within these new cities, the street and the studio developed as two very different sites of photographic production that nevertheless shared a dynamic interplay.

Street and Studio (Tate Modern 22 May – 31 September 2008 ) is the first to closely examine these two vital locations and explore how the relationship between them helped shape photographic history in the twentieth century.

The exhibition is conceived around a chronological dialogue between the studio and the street, establishing at various points connections over time and space, which reflect moments of continuity and rupture in the photographic practice of the twentieth century. Divided into fourteen sections, the exhibition includes around four hundred exhibits, comprising mainly photographic prints but also features many examples of photographs in their published form, in books and magazines. The exhibition will highlight contrasts between the studio’s changing formal conventions and its constructed rather than naturalistic tendencies, and the more informal, dynamic responses of photographers to the insistent tempo of the street. But the exhibition will also show how those roles converge and reverse over time, how the street becomes a site for staged and directed portraits and the studio a place of spontaneity, outlandish experiments and a site of authenticity. It will also investigate the growing role of the printed media in creating new opportunities in both locations and encouraging a more fluid interchange between them.

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Published in Photoworks issue 10 2008
Commissioned by Photoworks

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