Art reflects life as exhibition looks at paparazzi influence

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The Independent Online

Paparazzi photographs have become part of the fabric of modern life, but there are few who would call them art. But an exhibition that opens at the Hayward Gallery in London next week will look at how artists have tackled the divide between the art world and photography.

The exhibition, called The Painting of Modern Life, includes images ranging from rock stars to the Iraq war and the Royal Family. Bringing together 100 paintings from 22 artists, including Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Gerhard Richter, the show focuses on art that has been inspired by significant moments in modern history.

While galleries have often shied away from the influence of photography on art, fearing it might reflect poorly on traditional art, Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward, argues the new show does the opposite. "This show proves that, far from being irrelevant in this age of instant media, painting continues to confront and explore the social and cultural landscape, " he said.

Mr Rugoff, who also curated the exhibition, said he hoped the show would mark the beginning of a new era for the gallery, where art looked to the world outside.

Many of the works analyse the intrusion of the paparazzi. Richard Hamilton's Swingeing London, which depicts Mick Jagger using his handcuffed arms to cover his face from a camera lense after his drugs arrest, is one of these.

The image of a grieving Jackie Kennedy, based on photographs taken after the assassination of her husband, J F Kennedy, is interpreted by Warhol and Richter. And the American artist Elizabeth Peyton shows a blanched Prince Harry at a football match in 1997. The painting was inspired by a paparazzi photograph taken at the match after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when there was supposed to be a moratorium on photographing the princes.

Works such as Andy Warhol's Race Riot and Big Electric Chair, show the power of the camera to expose injustice. Race Riot, from 1963, gives three images of confrontations with police and black Americans in Alabama. The Blindfolded, by Marlene Dumas, looks at the political power of the photograph with images of Iraqi prisoners.

The exhibition opens on 4 October at the Hayward Gallery in the revamped Southbank Centre.

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