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The National Portrait Gallery is reopening to include unseen photographs of Paul McCartney

The National Portrait Gallery will reopen later this year with an exhibition of previously unseen photographs by Sir Paul McCartney from his early days in The Beatles.


The collection features images taken between December 1963 and February 1964 – from the emergence of Beatlemania in Liverpool to performing to an audience of millions on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York.

In 2020, Sir Paul, 80, contacted the gallery – which will reopen in June after three years of major refurbishment – after coming across images he thought had been lost.



Self-portrait in a mirror. Paris, 1964 © 1964 Paul McCartney.

Gallery director Dr Nicholas Cullinan said during a press briefing: “The McCartney exhibition is very interesting.

“In fact Sir Paul contacted us I think back in 2020 and said he had found these pictures which he had remembered but thought was lost.

“And so we sat down with him and started looking at the pictures and they’re really extraordinary.

“To see these images of an unseen, so well documented, so famous and important cultural moment…

“And the fact that they were taken by someone who was actually looking out into what was happening, in the eye of the storm, as in the exhibition title.”


Vivien Leigh (1936, printed 2022-3) by Yevonde, purchased with the Portrait Fund, 2021 National Portrait Gallery,

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm will run between 28 June and 1 October and is one of two major exhibitions that will launch the gallery’s summer programme.

Yevonde: Life and Color will explore the life and career of 20th-century photographer Yevonde, who pioneered the use of color photography in the 1930s, and will run from June 22 to October 15.

Supported by the Chanel Culture Fund, it will build on Reframing Narratives: Women in Portrait, a three-year project to improve the representation of women in the gallery’s collection.

The exhibition will include new prints and discoveries made possible through the research, cataloguing and digitization of Yevonde’s collection acquired by the gallery in 2021.

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The David Hockney exhibition Drawings from Life will return to the gallery between 2 November 2023 and 21 January 2024, after being cut short in March 2020 due to the onset of the pandemic.

Other exhibitions announced include a survey of African diasporic artists working in the UK and US, called The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure, and a combination of works by photographers Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron .

Dr Cullinan said: “Our program of exhibitions for our first year presents some of the world’s most renowned artists in a new light, includes extraordinary and never-before-seen images, highlighting the work of remarkable innovators , charts important cultural areas and displays the largest contemporary illustrations.

“I am delighted to be working with a range of incredible artists and supporting organizations to deliver our most ambitious and innovative program to date, as we ensure the new National Portrait Gallery is more vibrant and vibrant than ever before. is exciting.”

The gallery has been closed since 2020 to refurbish the building, re-display the collection, create new gallery spaces and improve access with a new entrance.

It will reopen on June 22.

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