Aged 103, Wolfgang Suschitzky may well be the oldest living artist exhibited in London. The final centenary celebration exhibition at Ben Uri Gallery & Museum continues the theme of migration; this time displaying portraits of three major cities, ‘Unseen – London, Paris, New York 1930s-60s’, viewed through the fresh eyes of three eminent emigre photographers. The oldest, Suschitzky, fleeing Vienna in 1935, brought also the latest German realism with him to London.
His haunting images are now well-known and admired: book lovers browsing on Charing Cross Road, shoppers walking through the rain, theatre goers queuing in the West End, sheep grazing in Hyde Park, St Paul’s seen through a bombed out building during the Blitz. The everyday stories of a departed era are skillfully captured in smoky light and shadows, a human detail or moment that reveals more than it seems.
Dorothy Bohm, who left her native Konigsberg for London in 1939, caught the magic and sadness of post-war Paris: printsellers, artists painting, a man sleeping, boats drawn up on shore – all by the Seine; children running errands, walking a poodle, or sleeping in a park.
Neil Libbert, who visited New York in the early ’60s as a professional photo-journalist, snapped Harlem children playing in the street or laughing at a baseball game, window shoppers, ice skaters in Central Park – as well as a prescient take of a tiny black child wielding a toy gun in front of a nonchalant armed policeman. A show not to be missed.
Unseen – London, Paris, New York, 1930s-60s. 20 May to 27 August 2016
(Published in the June issue of Galleries magazine)