London Art Studies: 10 Landmark Photographs at Phillips


Robert Mapplethorpe self portrait NHYM 2016. 

I was invited last Tuesday to attend a lecture at Phillips on ‘Ten Landmark Photographs’ by the London Art Studies, who offer short, accessible art classes. It was timed perfectly to coincide with Photo London, a very new photography fair which opened yesterday at Somerset House and runs until Sunday (last year was its first year), and the Phillips Photographs exhibit and auction. This week, it’s all about photography (Art16 also opened yesterday, but one has to choose with less time available).


Diane Arbus. Three transvestites in evening dress. NHYM London Art Studies 2016. 

London Art Studies offer short, concise art classes for those who may not be able to commit to a 9 week Christie’s/Sotheby’s/Royal Academy of Arts course. When they contacted me, I was immediately intrigued and thought it a very good concept: pick and choose the subjects you want to learn about, when you are available. It offers classes in contemporary art, art collecting, and on topical, current exhibitions in London (for example, its class yesterday was on Georgia O’Keefe who will be at the Tate Modern this summer).


London Art Studies evening, Phillips, May 17 2016. NHYM.

I arrived at the Phillips lecture room to find a room full of art lovers, collectors and photographers, including myself. I’ve always been interested in photography but last took it seriously about 15 years ago when I took a class at the International Centre of Photography in New York. Since then, I’ve been an ‘amateur’ photographer, as we all are in the age of selfies and instagram. But photography is an art in its own right and this art fair and lecture is a reminder that it is one of the great creative mediums.


Lecturer Ben Street and photograph by Bill Brandt, NHYM 2016.

The lecturer Ben Street has all the credentials you can ask for. He is a lecturer at the Tate, National Gallery and at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Right away, you could sense his passion and enthusiasm for art, which he conveyed in an eloquent and loquacious way. He went through the history of photography in an hour, which is a feat in itself. Photography is a very young art form, which only really emerged in 1839. He showed us photographs meant to look like paintings (Julia Margaret Cameron), and discussed Henri Cartier Bresson’s huge influence on photography and the ‘decisive moment.’ This above picture by Bill Brandt shows the surrealist movement of photography.


Robert Mapplethorpe Flowers. NHYM 2016.

The lecture also included Robert Mapplethorpe, who photographed ‘beauty,’ from naked people to flowers, and Bernd and Hilda Becher who photographed industrial Germany. These fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction. Some of the great quotes I took away from that night were ‘photography is like enhanced vision, it makes us the see the world better than in reality,’ ‘an iconic photo is so much more than itself, it represents something bigger.’ Finally, ‘every photograph is nostalgic, it is a moment in time, it is you in the past’, and ‘photography of the dead keeps them alive.’


Peter Beard NHYM 2016. 

After the lecture, we were invited to visit the Champagne reception and photography exhibit in advance of the photography auction. The exhibit had a wide range of illustrious photographs, but also had a strong emphasis on fashion photography’s impact on our general culture (coinciding with Vogue’s 100th).


Peter Lindbergh Supermodels NHYM 2016. 

The London Art Studies classes are a great way to learn in an informal, social environment in short, concise classes. The lecturer was excellent and the set up was lovely (although it started a little later than was supposed to, which would have been fine apart from babysitting issues). I thoroughly enjoyed it, and loved learning in a different way. At university, part of my curriculum involved Art History, which I loved. It taught me the appreciation of art, and for those who want to learn more, this is a sweet and succinct way to go about it. Recommended.

London Art Studies: