Works on Loan to Masculinities exhibition


Rivington Place



past exhibition

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About the LOAN

Autograph has loaned six works by Rotimi Fani-Kayode from our photography collection to the Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography exhibition, organised by Barbican Centre and now on tour to Gropius Bau.

At a time when ideas around masculinity are undergoing a global crisis and concepts such as 'toxic' and 'fragile' masculinity are shaping social discourse, thing exhibition brings together 300 works by 50 international artists such as Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager, Catherine Opie and Wolfgang Tillmans to offer a panorama of filmic and photographic explorations of masculinity rife with contradictions and complexity.

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Touching on themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, class, sexuality, hypermasculine stereotypes as well as female perceptions of men, the works present masculinity as an unfixed, performative identity.

Curated by Alona Pardo, Barbican Centre.

A naked man crouched on the floor with his hands across his chest.
Naked torso with a camera over his groin.


Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a prominent Yoruba family before moving to England following the 1966 outbreak of civil war in Nigeria. He later studied at Georgetown University and the Pratt Institute in the USA, before settling permanently in London in 1983 where he lived and worked until his early death from a short and unexpected illness on December 21 1989.

During his tragically brief six-year career, Fani-Kayode produced a complex body of photographic work, exploring themes of race, sexuality, spirituality, and the self.  

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His masterfully staged and crafted portraits, sometimes quietly monochromatic and at other times rich in saturated colour, stand as powerful, resolutely ambiguous, visual statements. A seminal figure in contemporary art photography, the year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death; at the core of Fani-Kayode’s practice is an important emphasis on the cultural politics of difference.

A prominent figure in the Black British art scene, Fani-Kayode was the founding member and first chairman of Autograph in 1988.His photographs have been exhibited internationally since 1985, with numerous recent solo exhibitions in London, Boston, New York and Cape Town. In 2003, his work featured in the African Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy and in 2011 in ARS 11 at Kiasma-Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland.

Fani-Kayode’s works are represented across the world in collections of numerous public institutions and private collectors including Tate, Guggenheim Museum, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, Walther Family Foundation, Harvard University’s Hutchins Centre, Kiasma-Museum of Contemporary Art and the collection of Yinka Shonibare MBE, amongst others.

An episode of the recent BBC Radio 4 program on the History of Art was dedicated to his work in March 2018. Many of his photographs were created in collaboration with his late partner Alex Hirst and are collected in the posthumous 1996 publication Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Alex Hirst: Photographs. His work is represented by Autograph, London.

Front cover of Photographs by Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Alex Hirst. Man wearing a flowery headdress and holding a tropical plant.


Purchase Autograph's hardcover photography book featuring the work of Rotimi Fani-Kayode and his partner Alex Hirst in our online shop.

All sales support our arts and learning programmes.


Read about Autograph's collection of photography, and view a selection of images

Watch Barbican Centre's trailer for the Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography exhibition

Read The New York Times' review of the exhibition at Barbican Centre

Five Things You Need To Know About Rotimi Fani-Kayode on What's On Africa


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Banner image: Rotimi Fani-Kayode, City Gent, 1988.

Page images, from top left: 1) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Untitled, c. 1985. 2) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Snap Shot, 2987. Images all ©Rotimi Fani-Kayode and courtesy Autograph, London.