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The V&A photography gallery

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I visited the small photography gallery in the Victoria & Albert Museum a couple of weeks ago, and something’s been troubling me ever since. Many photographers complain that to get photos exhibited these days you have to print very large, in colour and, preferably, be ‘conceptual’. This is true, but then most gallerists have always followed fashion.

The V&A – which is not a contemporary photo gallery but a museum – currently has only a very small room for photography, but fully half of the pictures were less than 10 years old and (you guessed it) printed very large, in colour, and were conceptual.

Whether you like this type of work is, of course, a subjective matter – personally I can think of no other art form that, so soon after it’s creation, has concentrated so hard on making itself mundane – but surely the balance is wrong? Is the collection really so lacking in good pictures from the previous 150 years?