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Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street

Curated by Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London, this show at the Samuel Harn Museum of Art is the first major exhibition in more than thirty years devoted to photographer E. O. Hoppé. It includes 142 photographs dated between 1909 and 1945. The exhibition gathers together his modernist portraits alongside his documentary studies capturing the realities of day-to-day life in Britain between the wars. Hoppé (1878-1972) was one of the most important photographers of the first half of the 20th century and much of his work has only recently been reassembled.

Hoppé migrated to London as a young man and, once there, rapidly established himself as the leading practitioner of photographic portraits in England. He began by photographing a wide range of eminent politicians, performers, writers and socialites including figures such as Ezra Pound, Rudyard Kipling, and the royals of England. He was best known for photographing dancers from Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes such as Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina. Then he was interested in the working class finding beauty in faces that revealed hard work and engagement in life. He believed in establishing a certain magnetic communication between himself and his sitter. Rather than seeking to mimic the sitter’s physical appearance, he sought to capture his or her character, disposition and inner essence. Through August 30, 2015.

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