Curated by the iconic British photographer Martin Parr, Strange and Familiar considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK.

16 March – 19 June 2016
Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre

From social documentary and street photography, to portraiture and architectural photography by some of the leading lights of 20th and 21st century photography, the artists include Tina Barney (USA), Gian Butturini (Italy), Henri Cartier-Bresson (France), Bruce Davidson (USA), Raymond Depardon (France), Rineke Dijkstra (The Netherlands), Jim Dow (USA), Hans Eijkelboom (The Netherlands), Robert Frank (Switzerland), Bruce Gilden (USA), Frank Habicht (Germany), Candida Höfer (Germany), Evelyn Hofer (Germany), Axel Hütte (Germany), Sergio Larrain (Chile), Shinro Ohtake (Japan), Akihiko Okamura (Japan), Cas Oorthuys (The Netherlands), Gilles Peress (France), Paul Strand (USA), Edith Tudor-Hart (Austria), Hans van der Meer (The Netherlands) and Garry Winogrand (USA).

“The exhibition will reveal a very different take on British life than that produced by British photographers. It is both familiar and strange at the same time.” – Martin Parr

Alongside the works exhibited, an extensive photobook section brings together an array of rare, new and out-of-print publications by international photographers from the 1930s to now, constituting a parallel history of Britain. Designed by Stirling Prize-winning London based architects Witherford, Watson, Mann, Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 16 March 2015.

Robert Frank, 'London Street', 1951
Robert Frank, ‘London Street’, 1951

Each of the 23 photographers in the exhibition records different characteristics of life around Britain in their own distinctive style. Starting in the mid-1930s with Edith Tudor-Hart’s images of London’s East End to the slum housing areas of Tyneside that capture the child welfare, unemployment and homelessness that characterised the interwar years. Henri Cartier-Bresson ’s images capture the celebratory spirit at the Coronation of King George VI in 1937 – photographing the crowds lining the streets. The work of Gian Butturini and Frank Habicht show the euphoria of the Swinging Sixties and the anti-War movement.

Bruce Davidson, London. 1960. Girl holding kitten.
Bruce Davidson, London. 1960. Girl holding kitten.

Paul Strand ’s images feature the lives and landscape of the Scottish Isles of the Outer Hebrides in the mid-1950s underscored by the politics of the Cold War and Britain’s emerging transatlantic relationship, whilst Robert Frank’s portrayal of life in London alongside the coal mining towns of South Wales in the early 1950s chart the rise of a British corporate culture and bring into sharp relief the relationship between wealth and poverty. Equally Sergio Larrain’s take on London in the 1950s is a spontaneous response to a city that was undergoing dramatic change in the post-War era and is marked by unusual vantage points and blurred images that capture the dynamism of the city. The Dutch photographer Cas Oorthuys captured the mid-century street and social landscape in Cambridge, London and Oxford with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies: commuters queuing at bus stops, bowler-hatted city workers and London markets.