Top 10 photography shows of 2019 | Culture – The Guardian

10Eamonn Doyle: Made in Dublin

Photo London, Somerset HouseAlongside his creative collaborators production designer Niall Sweeney and sound artist David Donohoe Irish photographer Eamonn Doyle created an ambitious nine-screen projection for Photo London. It was an immersive experience that threatened to overwhelm, but, once surrendered to, unfolded to its visceral soundtrack at a furious pace. Looming figures flitted across the viewers vision in constantly unfolding juxtapositions, making Doyles native city seem more Ballardian than Joycean.

Marian Goodman, LondonA long-awaited major London show for Nan Goldin, her first since the Whitechapel Gallery retrospective in 2002, Sirens is shadowed by her recent addiction to Oxycontin and the direct action anti-Sackler activism she has embraced since her recovery. Two of her new works, Sirens and the viscerally unsettling slideshow Memory Lost, draw deeply on lived experience. The latter in particular uses her signature diaristic approach to explore memory, mourning, death and dislocation. Tough, heartbreaking and utterly compelling. On until 11 January. Read the full review.

Tate Modern, LondonAn ambitious, sprawling and constantly surprising retrospective of an artist too long considered in the reflective light of Pablo Picasso, with whom she had a turbulent relationship. Her career began in earnest in 1932, when Henriette Markovitch, painter, became Dora Maar, photographer. The creative trajectory that followed took her from fashion to portraiture to street photography and on into surrealist-inspired experiments in photomontage and camera-less photography. An expansive portrait of a restless spirit. On until 15 March. Read the full review.

Tate Britain, LondonBritains most famous living photographer drew the crowds to Tate Britain for this expansive retrospective, drawn from an archive that stretches back 60 years. Best known for his war photography, the show reminded us of the wealth of other defining documentary images from closer to home: post-war working class life in Londons East End, the declining landscapes of the industrial north, poverty and homeless in the capital. Comprising over 250 photographs, all hand-printed by McCullin in his darkroom, it was a celebration of, and an elegy for, a time when photojournalism and documentary photography indelibly shaped our view of the world. Read the full review.

Les Rencontres dArlesOn the back of her acclaimed first book, Ex-Voto, which merged landscapes of contemporary sites of religious pilgrimage with starkly haunting portraits of latter-day pilgrims, the young English artist won the Audience Award at Arles for The Faithful. Here, the central subject of stark monochrome prints and a quietly compelling film was a young Orthodox nun named Vera, who works with captive wild horses in a convent in rural Belarus. The end result was another austere and affecting exploration of contemporary religious devotion.

Jeu de Paume, ParisPeter Hujars reputation has risen steadily since his death in 1987, his often deftly composed portraits possessed of an acutely intimate undertow. Hujar came of age in the downtown art scene in New York, his creative life bookended by two defining cultural moments: the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the Aids crisis of the 1980s. He once described his approach as uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects. They include avant-garde artists, gay activists, intellectuals and drag queens; among the most celebrated are a reclining Susan Sontag and, posing languorously on her deathbed, Warhol superstar Candy Darling. On until 19 January.

Hayward Gallery, LondonDevoted to the formative years in which Diane Arbus honed her dark vision, In the Beginning showed how her sensibility and signature style a crucial shift from 35mm to square format took shape on the streets of New York. Around two thirds of the 100 plus prints on view had not been seen before in the UK; what they revealed was a precocious talent for the eccentric and the perverse, whether tattooed strong men, circus performers, self-styled outsiders or passing strangers. Still unsettling, still singular. Read the full review.

The Photographers Gallery, LondonFor all their quiet stillness, Dave Heaths portraits possess an intensity that is by turns melancholic and unsettling. In that most exuberant of decades, the 60s, Heath emerged almost unseen as a master of solitude and introspection. His images, as this deftly-curated exhibition highlighted, instil a thoughtful silence in the space around them. An illuminating survey of a quiet American photographer who was a master of mood and sequence.

National Portrait Gallery, LondonA long overdue British retrospective showed the full range of Shermans work, from the iconic early series Untitled Film Stills (1977-80) to the more elaborately constructed Sex Pictures, which still shock in terms of their sheer grotesquery. She is a conceptual shapeshifter, whose one brilliant idea turning the camera on her transformed self in order to exaggerate and illuminate myriad female archetypes is one of the most fascinating creative journeys of our time. Read the full review.

Les Rencontres dArlesIn the 1970s and 80s, self-taught Czech photographer Libue Jarcovjkov relentlessly chronicled her wild life during a time of political repression. The results, shot in edgy monochrome, were one of the revelations of this years Arles photo festival. Jarcovjkovs diaristic approach brilliantly captures the low rent hedonism and self destructiveness of a semi-clandestine bohemian milieu. But there is something energetic, even joyful, in her laying bare of her own reckless life. Often, she is her own subject, the captions a kind of defiantly nihilist manifesto: I understand nothing and dont care. Life is pelting along too fast to understand. Im rarely sober. Elsewhere, she shot on the nocturnal streets and in dive bars, parties and scuzzy bedrooms, capturing the long nights and hungover days of a repressive, and thus doggedly dissolute, time in her homeland. Uncompromising and grittily poetic, Evokativ took me by complete surprise and stayed with me for days afterwards.

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Top 10 photography shows of 2019 | Culture - The Guardian

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