Man Ray Glass Tears (Les Larmes) 1932 The Sir Elton John Photographic Collection © Man Ray


UNTIL 21 MAY 2017

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the world’s greatest private collections of photography, drawn from the classic modernist period of the 1920s–50s. An incredible group of Man Ray portraits are exhibited together for the first time, having been brought together by Sir Elton John over the past twenty-five years, including portraits of MatissePicasso, and Breton.

With over 70 artists and nearly 150 rare vintage prints on show from seminal figures including Brassai, Imogen Cunningham, André Kertész, Dorothea Lange, Tina Modotti, and Aleksandr Rodchenko, this is a chance to take a peek inside Elton John’s home and delight in seeing such masterpieces of photography.

Dorothea Lange Migrant Mother 1936 The Sir Elton John Photographic Collection
Dorothea Lange Migrant Mother 1936 The Sir Elton John Photographic Collection

Ilse Bing Willem, Dancer 1932 The Sir Elton John Photographic Collection © The Estate of Ilse Bing


Elton John Collected Famous Photos for 25 Years. Now, You Can See Them on Display in London


In 1991, Sir Elton John was, as he describes it, “completely ignorant” about photography. Now, over 25 years later, he possesses one of the most expensive big-name collections of nearly 8,000 fine art photographs in existence today. There are two ways you’d be able to see them in person: either as a guest in the legendary pop star’s home, or as a visitor to Tate Modern’s exhibition The Modern Eye, on display until May 2017.

This new exhibition is part of a long-term relationship formed between Tate Gallery and supporters Sir Elton John and David Furnish. Over two years in the making, visitors can now see nearly 200 modernist photographs from 60 artists, with prints by the artists themselves dating from the 20s to the 50s. Those artists include legends like André Kertész with “Underwater Swimmer,” Dorothea Lange with “Migrant Mother,” and Edward Steichen with “A Bee on a Sunflower.”

“Once I started collecting it, I became avaricious about it,” John says in a short videosurveying the inner halls of the enthusiast’s home. “I moved to Atlanta and built a place here. It subsequently became an 18,000 square foot apartment. I didn’t need the space, I just wanted room to put the photographs on the walls! That’s how it kind of became the love of my life, in art terms anyway.”

The musician also owns a series of prints from one icon in particular. “Man Ray is one of the most iconic artists from the modernist period, and Sir Elton has a very impressive collection of his photographs ranging from classic portraiture to his more experimental darkroom solarizations and rayographs,” exhibition curator Shoair Mavlian tells The Creators Project.

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