Photographs Of The Untouched Corners Of The World: Genesis at Natural History Museum

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 135 months ago

Last Updated 15 April 2013

Photographs Of The Untouched Corners Of The World: Genesis at Natural History Museum

Iceberg between Paulet Island and the South Shetland Islands on the Antarctic Channel. 
At sea level, earlier flotation levels are clearly visible where the ice has been polished by the ocean’s constant movement. High above, a shape resembling a castle tower has been carved by wind erosion and detached pieces of ice. 
The Antarctic Peninsula. January and February 2005.

It's natural for this exhibition to draw comparisons with the excellent work of Ansel Adams (currently showing at the National Maritime Museum). After all, both photographers capture sweeping black and white vistas. But Salgado has a much broader portfolio including animal life and tribal peoples from Guinea to the Nenets in Arctic Russia.

Salgado's artistic eye is brilliant, whether it's spotting sandbars from above so they look like ghosts on the water, or if it's noticed a Bristlecone Pine which could pass for an expressionist painting. Mysterious fog banks swamp the rainforests of Zambia, and a leopard drinks from a pool of water, framed against the blackest of nights.

Other highlights include a colony of caimans resting in a river, their eyes gleaming in the darkness, and a set of foothills that are visually separated from the nearby mountains by a layer of clouds, as though from two separate photographs.

And we could go on. This exhibition is packed with breathtaking imagery at every turn. There are 200 photographs on display and the quality is so high that images that are merely impressive appear average next to their sublime neighbours.

Though there is an environmental message about maintaining these unspoilt corners of the world, this is very subtly applied, so you can simply gaze in awe as you walk around this sizeable exhibition. This is about as good as black and white photography gets, and we recommend setting aside 60 to 90 minutes to take it all in

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis is on at Natural History Museum until 8 September. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available.

Also still on at the Natural History Museum is its unique and refreshing take on evolution.

For more impressive photography, check out the soon to be closing Ansel Adams exhibition and the excellent Landmark.