Instant Stories: Wim Wenders' Polaroids

The Photographers' Gallery

20 October 2017 – 11 February 2018

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Focusing on Wim Wenders’ previously unseen Polaroid photos, this exhibition offers a rare glimpse through the director’s personal viewfinder.

Wim Wenders, Valley of the Gods, Utah, 1977

Wim Wenders, the Oscar-nominated director of Alice in the Cities (1974), Paris, Texas (1984) and Wings of Desire (1987), began taking Polaroids when he first studied film in the 1960s. The photos were a way of quickly testing out a shot or an idea, but they came to mean something more to him – a unique way of taking a picture that was ‘not multipliable, not repeatable. You couldn’t help feeling that you had stolen this image-object from the world’.

Although Wenders became well known as a photographer, this is the first time he has exhibited his Polaroid images. Over 200 photographs from the thousands he took are on display, all from the 1970s and 1980s. They present an intimate, visual account of his personal experiences, preoccupations and travels at the time.

Wenders took portraits of the people in his life, both personal and professional, and captured images from behind the scenes, on the streets and in wider landscapes. His first trip to New York is recorded in wondering detail, and there are homages to personal heroes such as Fassbinder and Warhol.

Polaroid cameras and photography feature in several of Wenders’ films, such as Alice in the Cities, whose protagonist is obsessed with photos, and the exhibition includes clips from key scenes.

Venue information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (Thu until 8pm, Sun from 11.00am)

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