Brian May's collection of 3D stereoscopic photography to go on display at Tate Britain
The former Queen guitarist has lent his collection of stereoscopic pictures to Tate Modern
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Sunday 31 August 2014
The Victorian craze for 3D stereoscopic photography is to be the subject of a major gallery exhibition for the first time - thanks to former Queen guitarist Brian May.
The veteran rock star has lent his extensive personal collection of stereoscopic pictures - which use two photographs to conjure a 3D image - to Tate Britain for a new exhibition opening next month.
May, 67, who has been collecting the images for more than 40 years, told The Independent he was delighted that the Tate was highlighting a photographic technique that had been “neglected by art historians for 150 years”.
The exhibition, A Poor Man’s Picture Gallery: Victorian Art and Stereoscopic Photography, is focusing on photographs that recreate artworks in Tate’s collection, such as Henry Wallis’ Chatterton, and the card players in Hearts are Trumps by 19th Century painter Sir John Everett Millais.
Carol Jacobi, curator at Tate, said: “These photographs were a real craze in the 1850s and 1860s, all over the world, not just in Britain. This is the first major British gallery to focus on this form of photography.”
The two photographs in stereoscopic pictures - which are taken from a slightly different angle - are displayed side by side. When seen through a special viewer they give the illusion of three dimensions. Chatterton-Robinson, Michael Burr, The Death of Chatterton c. 1861.Photograph, hand coloured albumen prints on stereo card
In the 1850s, they became hugely popular with the public and could be bought for a few shillings or even rented. Photographers including Michael Burr and Thomas Richard Williams were particular associated with the form.
“Stereoscopic photographs were so ubiquitous at the time and were seen as pretty disposable,” Dr Jacobi said. “They are now quite difficult to track down. That’s why we collaborated with Brian May, he has built a collection over 40 years.”
There are 26 sets of stereoscopic photographs in the exhibition. Some will be hung on the wall for the exhibition and there will be 12 examples to be seen through a viewer.
May said his love of stereoscopic photography started from collecting 3D cards that came free in packets of Weetabix breakfast cereal.
“I sent away for the viewer which made the cards spring to life in stereoscopic splendour. When I saw that this magic could be achieved, I couldn’t see the point of limiting photography to two dimensions,” he said.
He continued to collect throughout his music career and touring with Queen, contacting photo dealers around the world. He has built up a collection of tens of thousands of pieces stereoscopic material, though those from the mid-19th century are the rarest.
Dr Jacobi said: “In the 19th century, photograph versions of paintings had enormous audiences. Though most have been lost, these ones have never been displayed with the actual paintings.”
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Top 20 films that make you feel good
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
19 British bands signed to indie labels are getting government grants to help them make it big abroad
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
What if Nicolas Cage played every character in Game of Thrones?
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll