Michael Hoppen | Finders Keepers

16th January 2013
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Laura Burnside
Michael Hoppen cut Michael Hoppen | Finders KeepersDaido Moriyama, Koriyama City, 1989. © Daido Moriyama. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery, London & Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.

To celebrate the gallery’s 20 years, Michael Hoppen unveils the treasures of his extraordinary private photography collection in the gallery’s largest public exhibition to date, Finders Keepers.

We got the chance to catch up with Mr Hoppen himself.

Professor Sheldon Hine Pistol Lit by Coaxial Lighting View 2 1950. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery1 571x1024 Michael Hoppen | Finders Keepers

Professor Sheldon Hine, Pistol Lit by Coaxial Lighting, View 2, 1950. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.

Why did you decide to specialise in collecting photography?

I have always had a keen interest in photography. I started out as a photographer myself and spent a large part of my formative and studying years behind a camera. It seemed like a natural thing to do, once I decided to give up being a photographer, to share my enthusiasm and knowledge through a gallery – so it was like falling off a log !

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start collecting?

Always buy what interests you. Buy with your heart first – ears second. There are so many directions to travel and the choice is spectacular. Photography is practised by almost all societies so there are very few cultural boundaries. It’s also very accessible.

Finders keepers uncovers one of the earliest photography collections in the country. How has photography evolved since the early 1990s?

I don’t think that is correct. There are many collections in the UK that started in the 19th c – look at the V&A collection for example, which was started by Henry Cole in the 1850’s I think.  Photography evolves and continues to evolve through technology and I am sure will continue to do so.

Unknown Photographer Nude Study 1870. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery 1024x750 Michael Hoppen | Finders Keepers

Unknown Photographer, Nude Study, 1870. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.

Could you please explain which is your favourite piece from the Finders Keepers collection and how you came across it?

I have many favourites in the collection, so its very hard to pinpoint just one. I chose the 130 photographs in the exhibition from about 600  pieces in the collection. Finding each one has a story, but what remains in common to all of them is that they all still intrigue me and I have not tired of any of them. But I suppose what has come through working on the selection for this exhibition is that some of my favourite photographers are the anonymous ones.

What in your opinion makes a good photograph?

One that changes your point of view about the subject in question. A good photograph is also about being beautifully made and the subject matter being personally considered by the artist/photographer. We often see today photographs of the same thing by different photographers. Each one has it’s own flavour . Some good, some bad.

Emil Otto Hoppé Speakers Corner London 1934. ©Estate of Emil Otto Hoppé 1024x720 Michael Hoppen | Finders Keepers

Emil Otto Hoppé, Speaker's Corner, London, 1934. ©Estate of Emil Otto Hoppé. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.