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'Fragile Beauty' at Victoria & Albert Museum

David LaChapelle's Elton John: Egg on His Face (1999), selected as key image for V&A's newest exhibition.

From the V&A:

Showcasing over 300 rare prints from 140 photographers, Fragile Beauty is a major presentation of 20th- and 21st-century photography on loan from the private collection of Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

Selected from their collection of over 7,000 images, the photographs (many of which will be on public display for the first time) are era-defining images which explore the connection between strength and vulnerability inherent in the human condition.

Brand new acquisitions are also on display by Tyler Mitchell, Trevor Paglen and An-My Lê. These join some of the very first acquisitions made by John, including fashion photographs by Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn and Herb Ritts.

Marking 30 years of collecting, the exhibition celebrates Elton John and David Furnish's passion for photography and reflects their personal taste and unique eye as collectors. Across eight thematic sections, Fragile Beauty explores themes such as fashion, reportage, celebrity, the male body, and American photography. Portraits of stars from stage and screen also feature, including photography of Aretha Franklin, Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles, and Chet Baker. Many photographs in the exhibition respond to themes of persecution, resistance, and key moments in history, including images of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, AIDS activism of the 1980s and the events of 11 September 2001.

Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection runs from 18 May 2024 to 5 January 2025


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