Gitterman Gallery exhibits old black and white photographs of Roger Mayne (1929-2014). This exhibition showcases some of the most famous images from Roger Mayne’s seminal body of work on the streets of West London and similar working-class areas of Britain in the 1950s and early 1960s, which made of him one of the most important post-war British photographers.
The majority of the prints in the exhibition come from Ann’s Box, a selection of prints that Roger reserved for this wife Ann Jellicoe (1927-2017) and their family. The selection began when I first visited Roger after the introduction and recommendation of his London dealer, Zelda Cheatle, who closed her gallery in London in 2005. We decided to set aside some of the latest vintage prints of his most notable works. —Tom Gitterman
Roger Mayne first became interested in photography while studying chemistry at Balliol College, University of Oxford from 1947 to 1951. In 1953 he became interested in St. Ives School, who embraced the abstract avant-garde movement, and befriended painters Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Roger Hilton. Mayne consciously printed with high contrast and favors large prints [for the time] and tight graphic compositions to underline the formal qualities of his work and dialogue with the painting of the time.
Mayne’s photographs evoke a particular moment in post-war Britain when the hardships caused by war and rationing were still present. Mayne’s photographs reflect the positive community life on the streets that was soon to come to an end with the reconstruction and modernization of many working-class neighborhoods. His images of these communities and people: teddy boys, jiving girls and kids playing in the street, preserve the spirit of these neighborhoods. In 1959, Mayne’s images were so revealing of this period that vogue used them to illustrate teen styles. Colin MacInnes used one of his images on the cover of Novices, a novel told in the first person by a teenage freelance photographer living in West London who commented on the youth culture of the time. Mayne’s photographs were later used in the 1986 film by Novices by Julien Temple both as images of the protagonist and as inspiration for cinematography and costume design.
Mayne worked as a freelance photographer and his photographs were regularly featured in magazines and newspapers. His work was included in group exhibitions in the 1950s at the Combined Societies, a progressive group of local photographic societies in Britain which split from the Royal Photographic Society. His work was also included in Otto Steinert’s book Subjective photography in Germany, a series of group exhibitions and books of international photography that emphasized personal expression and the aesthetic potential of the medium. Mayne had solo exhibitions in 1956 at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. From 1956-57, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago acquired his work.
Mayne’s work has been collected by numerous institutions including: Art Institute of Chicago; Arts Council of Great Britain; National Library ; Denver Art Museum; George Eastman Museum; J. Paul Getty Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Milwaukee Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Folkwang Museum; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Portrait Gallery, London; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Canada; National Gallery of Victoria; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Scottish National Gallery; Princeton University Art Museum; Tate Britain; and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Although his talent as a photographer was recognized early in his career, it was his solo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1986 and the subsequent use of his images on album covers and concert sets for the musician Morrissey in the 1990s which renewed interest in his work. More recently, Mayne’s work was recently featured in Post-war and modern, new art in Britain 1945-1965 at the Barbican, London in 2022; Roger Mayne at The Photographers’ Gallery, London in 2017; Roger Mayne: Aspects of a Great Photographer at the Victoria Gallery, Bath in 2013; How We Are: Photographing Britain at the Tate Britain in 2007; make history at the Tate Liverpool in 2006 and 60s art at Tate Britain in 2004. This is the fifth exhibition of Roger Mayne’s work at the Gitterman Gallery.
Roger Mayne: What he saved for his family
January 17 – March 25, 2023
3 East 66th Street, 1b New York, NY 10065