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19 Feb 2019 - 7 Jul 2019

Ivan Kyncl: In the Minute

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London presents a new exhibition of photographs by Ivan Kyncl, Czech photographer whose extraordinary pictures have won him the respect and the heart of the British theatre scene. A unique display of 60 black-and-white stills from the personal archive of "the Cartier Bresson of the English theatre" is a remarkable chronicle of the British stage from the 1980s to the 2000s.

The V&A Museum has acquired Ivan Kyncl's theatre photography archive of 100,000 negatives directly from his family. The exhibition is composed of 60 black-and-white photos portraying many legendary figures of the British thetare including Cate Blanchett, Alan Rickman, Arthur Miller or Harold Pinter, many of whom Kyncl closely cooperated during his career. This unique display celebrates Kyncl’s unique ability to capture the essence, atmosphere and emotion of a theatrical production by being in the moment or, as he termed it, “in the minute“. The selected number of photos featured in the exhibition carries a symbolic meaning: there is one for every second in the minute.

Ivan Kyncl’s photography acts as a remarkable chronicle of the British stage from the 1980s to the 2000s. Not only does it chart the evolution of theatre, it captures the very essence, atmosphere and emotion of a production, permitting us access long after the final curtain. The V&A is a fitting home for Kyncl’s theatrical archive. His work can now be seen in the wider context of the history of theatre photography from its invention to the present day,“ says Simon Sladen, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the V&A.

Ivan Kyncl (1953-2004), son of the Czech dissident Karel Kyncl, studied photography after being prevented to enter higher education because of his father´s political background. While living in Prague, Kyncl photographed politically sensitive plays performed in the secret ‘living room theatre’ of blacklisted actress Vlasta Chramostová. He also documented the activities of Czechoslovakia’s Charta 77 anti-communist opposition. Following his move to the UK in the 1980s, he went on to capture more than 500 of the greatest plays, operas and musicals of the 20th century, including works by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tom Stoppard. He cooperated with theatre all over the United Kingdom, in London with Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Barbican Centre and The Almeida, among others. Known for his experimental approach to photography, Kyncl is still highly regarded for the remarkable inner dynamic of his photos. While at work, he was given rare access to roam the theatre´s space, at times manoeuvring and contorting his body into the trickiest of positions to capture pictures from all angles, from the balcony to backstage, the stalls and stage.



Opening times:

Daily: 10.00 - 17.45

Friday: 10.00 - 22.00 


More information about this event at the museum´s official website:

Article about the exhibition in Evening Standard:

Event photo: Alan Rickman in Tango at the End of Winter, 1991, Piccadilly Theatre, London © Ivan Kyncl. Courtesy of the V&A, London


Baby Doll, 1999, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham, Photo: Ivan Kyncl, courtesy of the V&A London

Plenty, 1999, Almeida Theatre London, Photo: Ivan Kyncl, courtesy of the V&A London

The Balcony, 1987, RSC Barbican Centre London, Photo: Ivan Kyncl, courtesy of the V&A London

Three Sisters, 2003, Royal National Theatre London, Photo: Ivan Kyncl, courtesy of the V&A London 







Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL


From: 19 Feb 2019
To: 7 Jul 2019


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