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Cruel and Tender
Walker Evans, Interior Detail, West Virginia, Coal Miner's House, 1935 (printed later)

Cruel and Tender

Robert Adams » Diane Arbus » Lewis Baltz » Bernd & Hilla Becher » Philip-Lorca diCorcia » Rineke Dijkstra » William Eggleston » Walker Evans » Robert Frank » Lee Friedlander » Paul Graham » Andreas Gursky » Boris Mikhailov » Nicholas Nixon » Martin Parr » Albert Renger-Patzsch » Thomas Ruff » August Sander » Michael Schmidt » Fazal Sheikh » Stephen Shore » Thomas Struth » Garry Winogrand »

Exhibition: 5 Jun – 7 Sep 2003

Bankside
SE1 9TG London

Tate Modern

Bankside
SE1 9TG London

+44 (0)20-78878000


www.tate.org.uk/modern

Sun-Thu 10-18, Fri-Sat 10-22

Cruel and Tender
Boris Mikhailov, From Case History, 1997-8

Tender cruelty is how the writer Lincoln Kirstein described the work of American photographer Walker Evans in the 1930s. Evans’s images were spare and factual, but his interest in the subject matter was always evident. Evans, along with German photographer August Sander, provides the historical axes for this exhibition, which explores the realist tradition within twentieth-century photography. The photographers chosen are united by this sense of ‘tender cruelty’, an oscillation between engagement and estrangement in their work. The result is a type of photographic realism that avoids nostalgia, romanticism, or sentimentality in favour of clear-eyed observation. Besides sharing a realist style, the photographers in Cruel and Tender take a similar approach to their subject matter, however diverse its nature. Rather than the dramatised scenarios of some types of photo-journalism, the tendency in Cruel and Tender is towards the quiet documentation of overlooked aspects of our world, whether architecture, objects, places or people. In the words of Philip-Lorca diCorcia, it is an ambition to record ‘that which was never really hidden, but rarely is noticed.’ Rather than being arranged chronologically, the exhibition begins and ends with living photographers, while encouraging interconnections between the historical and the contemporary. Works are grouped into sympathetic clusters, allowing comparisons and juxtapositions. Some of the themes linking these bodies of work are explored on this site, under artists. Though photography has been included in a number of previous exhibitions at Tate, and regularly features in its Collections displays, this is the first major exhibition dedicated purely to the medium. As such, it signals Tate’s acknowledgement that photography is a key component of contemporary visual culture and now regularly features in the programme of the museum. An exhibition by Tate Modern, London and Museum Ludwig, Koln, curated by Emma Dexter and Thomas Weski.

Cruel and Tender
Albert Renger-Patzsch, RWE's "Viktoria Mathias" Mine in Essen  1929
Cruel and Tender
Gary Winogrand, Centennial Ball, Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1969