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Collection of iconic photographs assembled by Eric and Louise Franck donated to Tate
Bruce Davidson, Girl with kitten 1960 © Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos.

LONDON.- A major photographic collection assembled by Eric and Louise Franck has been promised as a donation to Tate it was announced yesterday. The outstanding collection of photographs of London include iconic works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Irving Penn. A selection from the collection, by photographers for whom London was a foreign city, will be exhibited in Another London opening at Tate Britain on 27 July 2012.

Created over twenty years, The Eric and Louise Franck London Collection comprises in the region of 1400 photographs by 120 photographers and spans the period from the 1880s to the 2000s. The collection is unified by its subject matter: the photographs document the lives and communities of a single city, London. The estimated value of the gift to Tate is over £1million and comprises more than two thirds of the entire collection – the largest gift of photography ever made to Tate. The remaining work in the collection will be acquired on a purchase basis.

The Eric and Louise Franck London Collection will more than double Tate’s holdings of photography and will form a significant basis on which to build. This donation from Eric and Louise Franck follows recent gifts of a group of photographs by Don McCullin and a major vintage print of London by Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as contemporary film works by Tacita Dean and Jaki Irvine gifted to Tate in 2007.

Highlights of the collection include Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Waiting in Trafalgar Square for the Coronation Parade of King George VI 1937, Bruce Davidson’s Girl with Kitten 1962, Elliot Erwitt’s Bus Stop, London 1962, Robert Frank’s London (Child Running from Hearse) 1951 and Irving Penn’s Charwomen, London 1950.

The majority of the works in the collection are from the 20th-century and include those by some of the century’s finest photographers such as Ellen Auerbach, Eve Arnold, Ian Berry, Dorothy Bohm, Bill Brandt, Horacio Coppola, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Martine Franck, Robert Frank, Stephen Gill, Karen Knorr, Marketa Luskacova, Roger Mayne,Irving Penn, Chris Steele Perkins, Marc Riboud, George Rodger and Chris Shaw.

The collection also contains work by lesser known but historically significant figures from places as diverse as East and West Europe, the Soviet Union, The United States, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean.

As well as being a unique document of London and its communities, this collection demonstrates the technical skill, sensitivity and originality of photographers in the face of a subject as overwhelming, diverse and complex as London. It also provides an important survey of photographic processes like cyanotypes, albumen prints, silver gelatin prints and colour prints.

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said “In recent years, photography has become central to Tate’s activity in relation to exhibitions and the development of Tate’s Collection. The acquisition of The Eric and Louise Franck London Collection significantly enhances our holdings of photography in important areas both in terms of particular photographers and iconic works. We are incredibly grateful to Eric and Louise Franck who have been extremely generous in promising this gift and others before it.”

Simon Baker, Curator, Photography and International Art said “This collection is completely unique, with both an intense focus on London as a subject and great diversity in the range of backgrounds and approaches of the photographers included. It will fundamentally transform Tate’s holdings of photographs, and make a major contribution to our photography acquisitions strategy, adding at a stroke substantial bodies of work by some of the twentieth century’s most important photographers.“

Eric Franck said “Louise and I have a long association with Tate, and we are delighted to be able to make such a significant impact to Tate’s permanent photography collection with this promised gift. It is thanks to Louise that this collection exists as it was following her initial suggestion that we began to collect works depicting London.”

Eric Franck has been a key figure on the international art scene for many years. Since 1994, he has owned Eric Franck Fine Art, dealing predominantly in 20th-century photography and photographic literature. He owned Galerie Eric Franck, a contemporary art gallery in Geneva from 1982 to 1994 and co-founded Galerie Franck & Schulte in Berlin in 1990. Franck is also an award-winning film and theatre producer. His production credits include Palermo oder Wolfsburg (Dir. Werner Schroeter, 1980) which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1980. Franck’s sister, photographer Martine Franck was married to Henri Cartier-Bresson and Eric Franck is an advisor to the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris. Louise Baring (Franck) is a journalist and has written two photography books: Martine Franck (published in 2007) and Norman Parkinson (published in 2009). Louise Baringis working on a new book to be published in 2013 on the Dutch photographer Emmy Andriesse.

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