Art Review: Wim Wenders’ Polaroids, The Photographers’ Gallery ‘Nostalgic, Romantic’

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There is something immediately effortlessly nostalgic about Polaroids, and this collection of personal and unseen photos from Oscar-nominated director, Wim Wenders, makes for a particularly wistful exhibition that evokes all the feels for Americana and that great road trip through the instantly recognisable – and filmic – American landscapes and cityscapes.

Canned soups and apple pie, ketchup bottles and desert scenes, neon city lights and diners…. Wandering through this impressively sized exhibition (the Polaroids on display manage to fill two galleries), it is easy to be spirited away to romantic dreams of crossing America, driving coast to coast. California dreaming, if you will.

There are over 200 of Wim’s photos on display, encompassing family and friends, film casts and production crews, as well as behind-the-scenes snapshots, still-lives, street photography and landscapes. On a personal level, there are a great insight into the man’s artistic creativity and thought processes – glimpses into what inspires him, and ideas he’s thinking through. On a wider, more public level, they evoke so much of what we find sentimental in images of America and the lure of the open road.

Wim’s wider output has contributed to that sentiment with the American West such a marvellous backdrop in films such as Paris, Texas. Indeed, this show also features a selection of film clips and moving images from his films, reflecting moments in his work where Polaroids and/or their photos have been an important part of the narrative.

Spending an hour wandering through this wonderful show is an hour well spent. It’s an emotive collection of images that collectively conjures up an emotive and familiar aesthetic, but, individually, the photos examine feelings of nostalgia, isolation, loneliness, and the constant march of time.

The Photographers’ Gallery, London, to February 11, 2018
Admission: £4. Free before midday.

Image Credits:
1 Wim Wenders Valley of the Gods, Utah, 1977© Wim WendersCourtesy Deutsches FilminstitutFrankfurta.M. Wim Wenders New York Parade, 1972© Wim WendersCourtesy Wim Wenders Foundation
2 Wim Wenders Sydney© Wim WendersCourtesy Wim Wenders FoundationWimWendersDennis Hopper, 1976© Wim WendersCourtesy Deutsches FilminstitutFrankfurta.M.

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