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editors review
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cruel and tender, tate modern - 'subway portrait' by walker evans

All human life is here.

All extremes are here in Tate Modernís major presentation of the work of 24 big-name international documentary photographers. Take Boris Mikhailovís bleak and deeply disturbing images of the ravaged, scarred and semi-naked homeless in the frozen terrain of late 90s post-Soviet Kharkov. They couldnít be further from Martin Parrís large-scale super-saturated colour close-ups, taken over a similar period, of sweets, fags, dogs, doughnuts, hands, heads and feet, illustrating generic worldwide excess. Both, though, highlight the everyday and sometimes unnoticed aspects of 20th-century life.

Interior Detail by Walker Evans (left)
The Bernstein Family, Mudersbach by Thomas Struth (right)

With each photographer having been given a room, itís tiring to do justice to them all. Although itís worth it for greats like Walker Evans, August Sander, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Bernd and Hiller Becher, and, in particular, William Eggleston. His atmospheric and often slightly strange images of people, places and details taken around 70s Memphis and Mississippi read like stills from intriguing but unknown narratives. Helen Sumpter 13 June 03

Cruel And Tender is at Tate Modern, London, until 7 September. Tel 020 7887 8008.

useful link: tate: cruel and tender

Photos courtesy of Museum Ludwig (Cologne), The Museum of Modern Art (New York) & The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles).

© Thomas Struth & © The Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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  cruel and tender
7 comments | last comment Oct 7, 2003

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