Exhibitions

The Forgotten Photographs of Some of Britain’s Best Conceptual Artists

All images © the artist, courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery

The third of a new series of exhibitions on British conceptual artists during the 60s and 70s focuses on Leicestershire photographer Tony Morgan and John Blake, two innovative and experimental filmmakers whose early photo-conceptual works has never been shown before.

Tony Morgan left London at the age of 22 to embark on a month-long walk to Rome, a walk which he later referred to as his “first performance”.

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The most famous of these, The Book of Exercises, 1971, will be exhibited for the first time in its entirety: encompassing 49 pages of typewritten text and 21 black and white photographs.

The photography book attempts a “taxonomy of activities”, recounting Morgan’s engagement with the community he found on the way.

The photographer John Blake, like Morgan, used the landscape and his movement within it to explore ideas on perspective.

His series Untitled (M Panorama) 1968/69, a pair of photographic panoramas, takes as its subject the Vale of the White Horse in Uffington, Oxfordshire, which changes size and shape as Blake changes his own vantage point on the site.

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Blake begins to more literally change physical shape with the 11- part work Skin II (1969/70), where we see folds of flesh being pinched and pulled in large- format photos that exaggerate his proportions.

Exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum (1971) and the São Paulo Biennale (1971), this is the first time since 1971 that it has been exhibited in the UK.

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Morgan’s oeuvre includes a focus on the mediums of video and performance. He is best known for the work that came from a trip to New York in 1972 with Rebecca Horn, which led to the birth of his part-woman alter ego, ‘Herman Fame’.

Morgan’s practice from then on concentrated on gender identity, with Herman making appearances in his work and performances and taking a more key role.

Recent exhibitions include Film Screening: Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979 at The Tate Modern, London, this year.

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John Blake studied painting at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and at Yale University (Norfolk Program), receiving his BFA in 1967. He then continued his MA studies in London at the Royal College of Art in 1969.

Since that time he has remained living and working primarily in Europe, first based in London, then – since the mid-80s – in the Netherlands.

Blake’s practice consists primarily of mixed-media work and encompasses site-specific installations, photo-constructions, drawing and sculpture, slide-projections and films.

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Tony Morgan & John Blake are exhibited from 29 July – 26 August, 2016