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Frisky men and ‘beautiful’ 9/11 images – Elton John’s photo collection is wild : ​Fragile Beauty, V&A, review

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Published Time: 15.05.2024 - 02:40:26 Modified Time: 15.05.2024 - 02:40:26

With more than 300 prints on display, this show can feel unwieldy – but their sheer quality makes it worth a visit What do you give someone who has everything? If that person is multimillionaire musician Elton John, the answer’s simple a rare photograph

With more than 300 prints on display, this show can feel unwieldy – but their sheer quality makes it worth a visit


What do you give someone who has everything? If that person is multimillionaire musician Elton John, the answer’s simple: a rare photograph. A new exhibition at the V&A showcasing “aspects” of this photography fanatic’s co​llection of more than 7,000 prints includes a group of self-portraits in which the American Peter Hujar hops and skips, naked, around a studio. Elton received them from his husband, David Furnish, for his 70th birthday. Who says your twilight years can’t be frisky?

The pair have been collecting photography since the 1990s, after pop’s “Rocket Man” went sober. (In the catalogue, John reveals that he used to consider photography “a ‘pain in the a---’, not an “art form”, because he associated it with having his portrait taken, which he “hated”.) In 2016, Tate Modern presented their modernist holdings, including a print of Man Ray’s Glass Tears (1932) for which, in 1993, John paid almost $194,000, then a record sum. Fragile Beauty is a sort of sequel, by turns glitzy and sobering, examining the medium’s evolution after 1950.

: Nan Goldin. Courtesy of Nan Goldin and Gagosian

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