Sir Elton John and husband David Furnish have had a room named after them at the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum).
The ‘Rocket Man’ hitmaker and his spouse made a “significant” donation towards the London museum’s Photography Centre and they have now announced a long-term collaboration with the couple, which aims to “revolutionise public access to photography”.
Elton’s own private The Sir Elton John Photography Collection – which he first started collecting 27 years ago and is comprised of over 7,000 images taken from the early 20th century to now – is joined by more than 8,000 images in the new space.
In their honour, the V&A has renamed gallery 101 as ‘The Sir Elton John and David Furnish Gallery’.
The 72-year-old music legend, who is an avid art collector and particularly fond of photography, hopes the expansion of the facilities will bring about new artists and collectors and that visitors will have the “same excitement and appreciation for photography” that he felt when he started his own collection.
He said: “The V&A is known for its dedication to teaching, public research facilities and learning-based exhibitions focused on the mechanics and history of the photographic arts.
“For David and I, this commitment to education and mission to celebrate the medium, presents a perfect partnership.
“The new Photography Centre, along with the 2022 extension, will not only elevate photography but it will help foster new artists, patrons and collectors, like myself.
“We are delighted to be part of this exciting moment and we hope that audiences will walk away with the same excitement and appreciation for photography, as I did when I first started collecting.”
Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “We are immensely grateful to Sir Elton John and David Furnish for their generosity in supporting our Photography Centre and mission to make historic and contemporary photography available to the widest possible audience.
“We are united by a deep commitment to the medium, and there are huge synergies between our collections, particularly around 20th century modernist and contemporary colour photography.
“The Sir Elton John Photography Collection was a major lender to our 2014 exhibition, Horst: Photographer of Style.
“I very much look forward strengthening our collaboration with Sir Elton, David and their team and seeing our collections in dialogue in a new and revelatory photography exhibition.”
Although photography is the ‘Candle in the Wind’ hitmaker’s main passion outside of music, he previously admitted he is useless with a camera himself.
He shared: “I’d just gotten sober back then and it was like I was seeing with clear eyes.
“I was in a chateau in the south of France and David Fahey, who owns a gallery in LA, showed me some prints by Herb Ritts and Horst and Irving Penn and that was it.
“Suddenly, I discovered something that I had been surrounded by for years and never noticed as an art form despite having had my portrait taken by the likes of Penn and [Richard] Avedon.
“I just flew into it and began to amass prints at auction and in private sales. It became the greatest passion I have outside of music.”