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.”
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre