Photography this month in London: The camera obscura shines at Shine

Erwitt’s wit at HackelBury, Israeli environmental views at Andrew Mummery and delightful Doisneau at Hoppen

Abelardo Morell (b. 1948) makes each room his life-size camera, just as Vermeer or Canaletto used the camera obscura to project inverted images traced onto paper or canvas before Fox Talbot’s invention of photographic emulsions enabled near-permanent, chemical fixing of views on coated papers. A Cuban-American émigré, who moved to New York at the age of 15, Morell now teaches fine-art photography at the University of Massachusetts. His first UK exhibition at Shine Gallery, features four new, specially commissioned images of the City of London, with 12 other locations, in his “Camera obscura” series. Morell’s eight-hour, super-imposed black and white exposures (interior and exterior), made by a camera set up within the darkened chamber, reconfigure notions of place, dimension, orientation and perspective. Prints in two sizes (20 x 24 ins, editions of 30 and 30 x 40 ins, editions of 15) cost from £2,000.

They just do not make photographers like Elliot Erwitt (b. 1928) any more: each image tells a story, different and self-contained. The New York, Magnum photographer emigrated to America as a child. Italian by birth, of Russian extraction, his family fled Mussolini for safety in California. Celebrated for his sense of humour, his work displays formal values in composition, together with an innate sympathy. HackelBury Fine Art shows its own choice of 45 prints drawn from his latest book, Snaps, whose 450 images, one third new, are due to be published by Phaidon. Vintage and modern, open edition prints have prices from $1,800 to $5,000.

Andrew Mummery Gallery holds the first UK exhibition of “Necropolis—military spaces”, a timely collaborative exercise in damage assessment, a would-be metaphysical exploration of abandoned buildings and a post-modern investigation of recent archaeology. Two young Israeli photographers, Gilad Ophir and Roi Kuper, expose the quintessential myth of Israeli society: the army. Their joint project, realised between 1996 and 2000, produced two complementary series of black and white images that record abandoned military installations and material as anti-monuments that exploit the environment, leaving traces of ruin and decay. All prints are in editions of five, priced from $1,800 (60 x 60 cm) to $3,000 (120 x 120 cm).

Jim Cooke, “Natural?” shown by Zelda Cheatle Gallery, records the evolving landscape and the passage of history in contemporary Europe. In meandering trips over the past three years, this Brighton-based photographer conducted a continental survey using a large 10 x 8 inch plate camera. Cooke’s finely detailed colour images reveal the old Arcadian landscapes of Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia. Digital and c-prints come in three sizes, priced from £650 (20 x 30 ins) and £1,000 (40 x 50 ins), to around £2,000 each for the very largest.

“Painterly photography” is a group show of manipulated, waxed, over-painted, processed, layered, positioned, referential and themed photographs at Blains Fine Art. Christopher Bucklow, Rick Giles, Candida Hofer, Marc Luders, H.N. Semjon, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Massimo Vitali and Tomoko Yoneda formulate a timely assemblage, positing an overview of the many possibilities between traditional painterly subject matter and its elaboration though photography. Prices range from £1,500 to £11,000.

17 November marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of August Sander (1876-1964). To celebrate, Michael Hoppen Gallery, supported by Olympus Cameras UK, exhibits a fine selection of 60 modern, estate prints, by the great German social encyclopaedist. Sander made thousands of large-format, anonymous, group and individual portraits of his countrymen and women between the wars. Salvaging some 10,000, mainly glass, negatives out of 40,000 from fire and Allied bombing, he was able to make some 45 portfolios of "archetypes" that were finally published in 1962 as Menschen des 20. Jahrhuderts (People of the 20th century). Modern, estate prints, 11 x 14 ins, in editions of 12, are priced from £1,800.

Hamiltons hosts "Un moment de bonheur", a charming selection of works by Robert Doisneau (1912-94), presented by the Dom Pérignon Collection, in the second annual collaboration between the champagne vintner and the glamourous Mayfair gallery. As befits the title, these photographs were specially chosen from the archives of the great street photographer, best known for the Gallic humour of his treatment of Paris and his portfolio of inventive portraits of leading artists of his day. This collection is not for sale, but Hamiltons offer similar pieces by Doisneau from their own stock, ranging in price from £2,000 for modern to £4,000 for vintage prints by the French master photographer.

Abelardo Morell, "Camera obscura" at Shine Gallery, 2nd Floor, 3 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TD, Tel: +44(0)20 7352 4499, fax+44(0)20 7352 3669. (2 November to 26 January)

Elliot Erwitt, "Snaps" at HackelBury Fine Art, 4 Launceston Place, London W8 5RL, Tel: +44(0)20 7937 8688, fax+44(0)20 7937 8868 (until 20 December)

Gilad Ophir and Roi Kuper: "Necropolis—military spaces" at Andrew Mummery Gallery, 63 Compton Street, London EC1V 0BN, Tel: +44(0)20 7251 6265, fax+44 (0)20 7251 5545,,, (22 November tp 26 January)

Jim Cooke, “Natural?" at Zelda Cheatle Gallery, 99 Mount Street, London W1K 2TF,% +44(0)20 7408 4448, fax+44(0)20 7408 1444, (27 November to 11 January)

"Painterly photography" at Blains Fine Art, 23 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QH, Tel: +44(0)20 7495 5050, fax+44(0)20 7495 4050,, (8 November to 8 December)

August Sander at Michael Hoppen Gallery, 3 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TD, Tel: +44(0)20 7352 3649, fax+44(0)20 7352 3669,, (12 November to 26 January)

Robert Doisneau, "Un moment de bonheur" at Hamiltons, 13 Carlos Place, London W1Y 2EU, Tel: +44(0)20 7499 9393/4, fax+44 (0)20 7629 9919,, (20 November to 1 December)

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 119 November 2001