First off, Everything was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s at the Barbican. As ever with shows at the Barbican, this was a very densely packed exhibition, covering the political and cultural events of the two decades as seen through the eyes of 12 major photographers from across the globe, including David Goldblatt, William Eggleston, Bruce Davidson, Larry Burrows and Shomei Tomatsu. Inevitably there was too much to take in on one visit - there are over 400 works on show - and some photographers seemed to be under-represented in comparison to others. There were also notable omissions - nothing covering the events of 1968 in Paris, the Northern Ireland conflict, the Berlin Wall in Germany - in fact, very little pertaining to Europe at all. Two photographers from the USA and 2 from South Africa, made it seem slightly unbalanced, but these are minor criticisms of what is an absolutely absorbing, powerful and memorable exhibition.
It was a joy to see so much outstanding black and white photography. Among the most note-worthy were Bruce Davidson's compelling photographs from the Civil Rights Movement (hard to grasp that these images of such hatred and brutality took place in the USA a relatively short time ago.) David Goldblatt's approach to his subject is more detached yet no less effective - his portrayal of life under South African apartheid rule is a window onto a strange and distorted world.
As a complete contrast, I found Larry Burrow's photographs of American soldiers in the Vietnam War equally affecting. I'm not normally a fan of huge photographs but their massive proportions and rich colours were curiously reminiscent of epic historical paintings and elevated the subject matter to another level. William Eggleston's highly saturated dye transfer prints never fail to impress. He was represented with two separate bodies of work - a series of large-format portraits which I found personally of little interest, and a roomful of his more well-known photographs of the mundane and ordinary aspects of American life in the south, which although by now very familiar, always manage to thrill me. Also of note was the black and white work of Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu whose photographs document the postwar Americanisation of Japan and the impact of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki 15 years after the event.
Larry BurrowsMore information including artist interviews here. There is also a good review of the exhibition by Guardian photography critic Sean O'Hagan here. The exhibition runs until 13th January 2013.