The world is beautiful

photographs from the collection

Overview | Near | Middle distance | Faraway

until 5 June 2016 | free entry

The world is beautiful is an exhibition of photographs taken over the last 100 years from the National Gallery of Australia's magnificent photography collection, including work by Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Henson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, Edward Weston and many more.

It draws its title from one of the twentieth-century's great photographic moments, the publication of Albert Renger-Patzsch's book The world is beautiful in 1928. Renger-Patzsch's approach embodied his belief that 'one should surely proceed from the essence of the object and attempt to represent it with photographic means alone'.

Inspired by this confidence in the medium, the exhibition looks at the way the camera interacts with things in the world. One of photography's fundamental attributes is its capacity to adopt a range of relationships with its subject, based on the camera's physical proximity to it. Indeed, one of the most basic decisions that a photographer makes is simply where he or she places the camera. The pictures in this exhibition literally take you on a photographic trip, from interior worlds and microscopic detail to the cosmic: from near to far away.

Together, these photographs capture some of the delight photographers take in turning their cameras on the world and re-imaging it, making it beautiful through the power of their vision and their capacity to help us see the world in new ways.


Robert Doisneau Un regard oblique [A sidelong glance] 1948, gelatin silver photograph, printed 1990 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra