When photos became art: London show honors Victorian pioneers

Prince William’s wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, selected and commented on some photos in the new exhibition following royal tradition. (AFP)
Updated 01 March 2018
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When photos became art: London show honors Victorian pioneers

LONDON: From Alice teetering on the edge of Wonderland to Charles Darwin mumbling into his beard, London’s National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting a rare selection of works by four pioneering Victorian photographers.
Lewis Carroll was not only a mathematician and children’s author but also a ground-breaking photographer.
The “Victorian Giants” show displays some of the photographs he took of young Alice Liddell, the muse behind his fantastical novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” along with her brothers and sister.
Carroll was friends with three other Victorian “giants,” who inspired each other to push the boundaries of the latest art form to produce sublime portraits.
Mysterious Swede Oscar Rejlander acted as mentor to the group, which also included high-society ladies Julia Cameron and Clementina Hawarden.
The exhibition brings together the four artists for the first time, with some photographs never seen before by the public.
Curator Phillip Prodger said the photographs’ distinctive style represented “the birth of the art of photography.”
The photographs explore a broad range of subjects.
Children — symbols of purity and innocence at the time — and celebrated beauties such as Julia Jackson, mother of writer Virginia Woolf, mingle with noted men of the age, including father of evolution Charles Darwin.
Darwin even brought the developing art to bear on science, commissioning Rejlander to produce a series of self-portraits for a book he was preparing on the emotions of humans and animals.
“When people think of Victorian photography, they sometimes think of stiff, fusty portraits of women in crinoline dresses, and men in bowler hats,” said Prodger, head of the museum’s photography department.
“But ‘Victorian Giants’ is anything but.”
The quartet “forever changed thinking about photography and its expressive power,” he added.
The great photographers of the Victorian era were the first to explore the psychological depth of their subjects, Prodger explained.
“Here visitors can see the birth of psychological expressiveness.”
Photography was an art-form highly prized by Queen Victoria and her husband Albert.
The royal tradition continues, with Prince William’s wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, selecting and commenting on some photos in the new exhibition.
She visited the exhibition on Wednesday, the day before it opened to the public. It will run until May 20.


Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

Updated 23 June 2018
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Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

DUBAI: In celebration of women in Saudi Arabia getting behind the wheel on June 24, we take a look at six classic car films — female-driven flicks included — that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline going.
‘The Italian Job’ (1969)
“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” It’s an iconic line known the world over, but have you actually sat down to watch this Michael Caine-starring classic? The plot centers on Caine’s character and his crew of gangsters who pull off a dazzling heist while driving a bevy of Mini Coopers. It’s fantastically fun and even inspired a 2003 remake. If it’s your first time, however, we suggest sticking to the original — they don’t build ‘em like they used to.
‘Thelma and Louise’ (1991)
It may have a controversial ending, but many see this film as the high octane, feminist version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and it is revered in film culture. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, the film sees the pair flee after they kill a rapist and follows them as they fight until the very end — and meet a very young Brad Pitt on the way.
‘Crossroads’ (2002)
It may have received lukewarm reviews at the time, but this film was loved by teenage girls the world over. The flick stars Britney Spears (alarm bells, anyone?) and tells the story of three childhood friends who rekindle their connection on a cross-country trip.
‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006)
The humor may be eye-roll inducing, but this film has too many fans to discount. The film pokes fun at NASCAR and sees Will Ferrell play the role of Ricky Bobby, a driver who was at the top of his game but loses it all to a snotty Frenchman.
‘Drive’ (2011)
It’s dark, it’s gritty and best of all it stars Ryan Gosling. He is known for his deadpan, inexpressive face (and oh, what a face) and skillfully portrays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and ends up risking it all to protect a woman and her son from vengeful criminals.
‘Baby Driver’ (2017)
You can’t discuss this film without giving special mention to its epic soundtrack — it features everything from James Brown to Beck and will have you wiggling in your seat throughout the movie. Ansel Elgort plays a brilliant young getaway driver with a penchant for seriously good music, stunningly choreographed car chases and the primal desire to escape a mob boss with the girl he loves.