Roman Vishniac at The Photographers' Gallery / by Shaun Armstrong

Yet again caught up in documenting the visitors to an art exhibition, this time at The Photographers’ Gallery.


It’s been a while since I’ve visited The Photographers’ Gallery and not since the major refurbishment a few years ago. I was drawn in particular to the Roman Vishniac Rediscovered exhibition in association with Jewish Museum London. Covering a body of work from 1920 to 1970 but focussed mainly on his powerful reportage work of the impoverished and oppressed Jewish community in inter-war Germany. This photography commission was aimed originally at raising awareness of the Jews in the 1930’s, against the backcloth of rising fascism. The subsequent events of the second world war made these images even more important as historic documents of a way of live now lost and like all good reportage, show observed elements of real life shot with the skill and aesthetic of a great reportage photographer.

Covering two floors of the Gallery, it also covers the period of his move to the US in 1940 where he documented Jewish families relocating and settling into their immigrant lives and his subsequent portrait work and his lifelong interest in biology and advances in colour photomicroscopy.

Roman Vishniac Rediscovered is on at The Photographers’ Gallery until 24 Feb 2019

However, I again failed to stop myself being drawn in to taking candid iPhone images of some of the other visitors to the galleries - always interesting people who, weaving in amongst the fixed displays never fail to bring out the reportage photographer in me. Including Mr Beret who punctuated each stop-and-look movement with a firm thud of his walking pole…!