Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case X, Shelf 1003, Box C

High Street Kensington from the series On a Good Day

Photograph
1976 (photographed), 2010 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

By the 1970s, American photographer Al Vandenberg (1932-2012) had abandoned his commercial career to take street photographs. Having studied photography in New York alongside Alexey Brodovitch, Richard Avedon and Bruce Davidson, Vandenberg became a successful commercial photographer and art director working in both New York and London during the 1960s. After a period of travelling, he settled in London in 1974 with the aim of using his photographic skills to create portraits of city life without a commercial agenda.

Vandenberg’s series On a Good Day documents a wide variety of Londoners. Although made on the street, the photographs are carefully posed and the subjects present themselves head-on to the camera with ease and confidence. Shopfronts and window displays serve as the backdrops in many of the photographs. Seen together, the series gives an idea of the communities that made up London and the urban styles of the era. Vandenberg saw the smile as a leveller, emphasising that whether he was taking a photograph ‘on the High Street of London or in the hills of Laos - a smile is always a smile.’

The V&A acquired fifteen photographs from Al Vandenberg’s On a Good Day series as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gelatin silver print
Brief Description
Photograph by Al Vandenberg, 'High Street Kensington' from the series On a Good Day, gelatin silver print, London, 1976, printed 2010
Physical Description
Black and white photograph of two black women smiling, one wearing a fur trimmed coat with a big afro hairstyle.
Dimensions
  • Image height: 12cm
  • Image width: 17.8cm
Style
Gallery Label
Text label for the exhibition, 'Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s - 1990s 16 February – 24 May 2015 Al Vandenberg (1932 – 2012) From the series On a Good Day 1970 – 79 Vandenberg worked as a commercial photographer in New York in the 1960s. He later settled in London, where he set out to document city life, combining street photography with portraiture. He often used shopfronts and window displays as backdrops. Although the photographs were made on the street, the subjects are carefully posed and appear engaged in the process. Gelatin silver prints (printed 2010) Museum nos. E.423 to 426, 429, 431, 432, 434 to 436-2010(16/02/2015 - 24/05/2015)
Credit line
Given in part by Al Vandenberg and Eric Franck. Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Object history
The V&A acquired this photograph as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
By the 1970s, American photographer Al Vandenberg (1932-2012) had abandoned his commercial career to take street photographs. Having studied photography in New York alongside Alexey Brodovitch, Richard Avedon and Bruce Davidson, Vandenberg became a successful commercial photographer and art director working in both New York and London during the 1960s. After a period of travelling, he settled in London in 1974 with the aim of using his photographic skills to create portraits of city life without a commercial agenda.



Vandenberg’s series On a Good Day documents a wide variety of Londoners. Although made on the street, the photographs are carefully posed and the subjects present themselves head-on to the camera with ease and confidence. Shopfronts and window displays serve as the backdrops in many of the photographs. Seen together, the series gives an idea of the communities that made up London and the urban styles of the era. Vandenberg saw the smile as a leveller, emphasising that whether he was taking a photograph ‘on the High Street of London or in the hills of Laos - a smile is always a smile.’



The V&A acquired fifteen photographs from Al Vandenberg’s On a Good Day series as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
E.432-2010

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record createdFebruary 1, 2011
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