Press Release

24 September 2008

Portraits by Anderson & Low
to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation
30 October 2008 -18 January 2009
Room 40
Admission Free.

A new display of over 30 previously unseen nude portraits of leading international sportsmen and women by acclaimed photographers Anderson & Low opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 30 October 2008. Several years in the making and shot over three continents, this project was conceived by the photographers to support the Elton John Aids Foundation in raising awareness of the global issue of HIV/AIDS.

Transcending cultural and socio-economic boundaries the universal appeal of these athletes made them the ideal subjects for this project. Their nudity in the portraits is symbolic, illustrating both their physical beauty and prowess alongside their vulnerability and humanity. The subjects for the portraits are drawn from a range of sporting disciplines and include Thierry Henry, Matt Dawson, Billie Jean King and Venus Williams. By participating, these sports stars have drawn attention to the importance and relevance of continued education, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

The mutual trust between artist and sitter is evident from the resulting unguarded portraits. These black & white photographs are a combination of abstract studies of the human form, where the sitter's identity is obscured, and classical portraits with meticulous attention to form and lighting. All of the subjects are removed from their conventional sporting environment and placed into a photographic studio. This displacement isolates each sitter from their sporting identity and celebrity but emphasises the power of the human form and allows us to view the sportsmen and women from a new perspective.

Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low ( have been collaborating as the team 'Anderson & Low' since 1990 when the Royal Academy of Arts exhibited one of their early collaborations. Their fine art work includes portraiture, nudes, architectural studies, reportage and highly disciplined studio-based images. Their work has been exhibited world-wide and is held in a number of collections including both the National Portrait Galleries of Australia and Great Britain, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta and the Worcester Museum, Massachusetts. Of their work, the portfolios Gymnasts, Athletes, Athlete/Warrior, Chrysalis and most recently Circus, have been published as monographs and there are plans to publish the Champions portfolio in 2009.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London says 'The Champions project takes the portraiture of sporting heroes to a new level. Anderson & Low's images make us all aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the human body.'

Sir Elton John, Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, says 'I am delighted that the National Portrait Gallery is hosting this exhibition of wonderful photographs of internationally renowned male and female athletes. Anderson & Low have caught in these heroic images of the human body at peak physical condition just how frail, vulnerable and defenceless we all are in the face of such a pernicious virus as HIV'

The Elton John AIDS Foundation aims to provide funding for educational programmes targeted at HIV/AIDS prevention and/or the elimination of prejudice and discrimination against HIV/AIDS-affected individuals, and for programmes that provide services to people living with or at risk from HIV/AIDS. For further information please visit

National Portrait Gallery opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am - 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Fridays:10am - 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Website:

For further press information please contact: Eleanor Macnair, Press Officer, National Portrait Gallery Tel 020 7 321 6620 (not for publication) Email

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