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PHOTOMONTH IN KRAKOW — 2010 Photomonth_kropki_duze

TONY RAY-JONES Photomonth_kropki_duze

Tony Ray-Jones

Curator: David Allan Mellor



One of the main protagonists of this edition of Photomonth in Krakow will be Tony Ray-Jones, a figure who exerted an enormous influence on the development of British documentary art photography in the 1970s. The work of Ray-Jones, deceased in 1972, spans merely a single decade. Photographers a generation younger than him treated him as almost a mythical figure. His work is considered pioneering for British ‘independent photography’. Ray-Jones’s photographs are documentary, almost anthropological by nature, and make keen observations on contemporary British society. A Day Off – An English Journal (1974) is an album published after the photographer’s death, collecting his most recognisable works. Taken during his weekend trips outside of town, these photographs from between 1966 and 1969 make up the series The Seaside, Summer Carnivals, London and Society. The representatives of British society captured here, ordinary citizens, spend their free time in the time-honoured fashion – mainly at seaside health resorts like Brighton, or at summer festivals. Ray-Jones himself stated that his aim as a photographer was to capture the specific British aura and to make out the nostalgic potential and surreal humour in ordinary situations.
Ray-Jones’s five-year stay in the USA and his studies at Yale University of Art were of great importance to his artistic development. During his year-long stay in New York he frequented the laboratory of Alxey Brodovitch, and had the chance to meet and draw inspiration from the ‘street photographers’ – Joel Meyerowitz and Garry Winogrand. In their company, his Leika in hand, he learned to melt into the multiethnic New York crowd, making testimony to the very act of observation from the scenes he photographed. He took this way of understanding documentary photography back with him to the British Isles.
Commercial photography held sway in Great Britain in the 1960s, and the documentary, anthropological view that attempted to grasp what was specifically British – Tony Ray-Jones’s approach – was isolated and exotic. In 1968 his attempts to publish the England by the Sea album, which served as a basis for the later A Day Off, came to nothing – the publishers claimed that the album would raise no interest.
Even at the present moment it is not easy to call Ray-Jones a popular photographer. It was only in 2004 that his work received a full retrospective exhibition at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford. The Starmach Gallery exhibition will give Polish audiences the chance to get a close look at the work of this artist who was so vital for the development of documentary photography.





Tony Ray-Jones

Curator: David Alan Mellor

Coordinator: Joanna Piotrowska

Grand opening: 7.05.2010, 6:00 p.m.

Starmach Gallery, 5 Węgierska st.
Exhibition dates: 7.05–4.06.2010; MON-SAT: 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.