Martin Barnes is Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) London, which he joined in 1995 from his previous position at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Since 1997 he has worked with the V&A’s National Collection of the Art of Photography, building and researching the collection and devising exhibitions. He was the Lead Curator for the V&A’s new Photography Centre which opened in autumn 2018.
Martin has curated numerous UK and international touring exhibitions including: Aspects of Architecture (2005); Where Are We? Questions of Landscape (2007-08); Something That I’ll Never Really See: Contemporary Photography from the V&A (2008-10); Beneath the Surface, the inaugural exhibition for Photo London, Somerset House (2015) and the British Pavilion at Dubai Photo (2016). He was the V&A curator for the Museum’s exhibitions: Diane Arbus Revelations (2005-6); Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour (2006); Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography (2010); Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (2011); Island Stories: Fifty Years of Photography in Britain (2012-13); Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1854-1860 (2015); Richard Learoyd: Dark Mirror (2015-16) and Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century (2016).
His publications include: Benjamin Brecknell Turner: Rural England through a Victorian Lens, (2001); Illumine: Photographs by Garry Fabian Miller: A Retrospective (2005); Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour (2006); Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography (2010); Horst: Patterns from Nature (2014); Curtis Moffat. Silver Society: Experimental Photography and Design, 1923-1935 (2016) and Cameraless Photography (2018). He has written essays for many contemporary photographers’ books including, Susan Derges, Paul Duke, Nermine Hammam, Frances Kearney, Hendrik Kerstens, Richard Learoyd, Peter Marlow, Hellen van Meene, Matthew Murray, Daniel Naudé, Jim Naughten, Wang Qingsong, Thomas Ruff, Sato Tokihiro, Al Vandenberg and Wim Wauman. Martin was editor of Talking Photography, a catalogue of the audio and visual collections of the British Library National Sound Archive, where he is an interviewer for the Oral History of British Photography project. He has written entries for The Folio Society Book of the 100 Greatest Photographs (2006) and the Encyclopaedia of Nineteenth Century Photography (2007) and contributed to international exhibition catalogues on the role of photography in the Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts Movements.
He has acted as academic advisor for the Royal College of Art, the University of Westminster and the University of the Arts London and as Chair of the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards, and is a reviewer for the Burlington Magazine. Martin is an Honorary Life Member of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and was presented with the RPS ‘J. Dudley Johnston Award’ in 2013 in recognition of ‘major achievements in the field of photographic criticism and the history of photography, awarded for sustained excellence over a period of time.’