Elton John Photo Collection on Show at the V&A

Showcasing over 300 rare prints from 140 photographers, Fragile Beauty is a major presentation at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, of 20th- and 21st-century photography on loan from the private collection of Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

Selected from their collection of over 7,000 images, the photographs (many of which will be on public display for the first time) are era-defining images which explore the connection between strength and vulnerability inherent in the human condition.

The exhibition covers the period from 1950 to the present day, bringing together an unrivalled selection of the world’s leading photographers to tell the story of modern and contemporary photography. Celebrated works include a monumental installation of 149 Nan Goldin prints from her Thanksgiving series, as well as images from Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, William Eggleston, Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Zanele Muholi, Ai Weiwei, Carrie Mae Weems and others.

elton john
Inside the ‘Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection’ exhibition. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


Brand new acquisitions are also on display by Tyler Mitchell, Trevor Paglen and An-My Lê. These join some of the very first acquisitions made by John, including fashion photographs by Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn and Herb Ritts.

“Since we first loaned a selection of Horst photographs to the V&A in 2014, our relationship with the museum has grown significantly. Fragile Beauty takes our collaboration to really exciting new heights, showcasing some of the most beloved photographers and iconic images from within our collection. Working alongside the V&A again has been a truly memorable experience, and we look forward to sharing this exhibition with the public.”
Sir Elton John and David Furnish


Marking 30 years of collecting, the exhibition celebrates Elton John and David Furnish’s passion for photography and reflects their personal taste and unique eye as collectors. Across eight thematic sections, Fragile Beauty explores themes such as fashion, reportage, celebrity, the male body, and American photography. Portraits of stars from stage and screen also feature, including photography of Aretha Franklin, Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles, and Chet Baker. Many photographs in the exhibition respond to themes of persecution, resistance, and key moments in history, including images of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, AIDS activism of the 1980s and the events of 11 September 2001.

Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection runs from 18th May 2024 to 5th January 2025.

V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London, SW7 2RL

See also: First Portrait of King Charles Unveiled




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