ICONS, a stunning new photographic exhibition of the ground-breaking work of the late John Reardon will be at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket between 2 May – 27 October 2024. A trailblazer in his field, Reardon captured a wide range of subjects from thoroughbreds to Michelin-star chefs and this is the first time that his equine and culinary subjects will have been viewed alongside one another since his death in 2018.

It was at the age of 50, after photographing countless wars and natural disasters for national newspapers and Sunday supplements, that Reardon turned his attention to photographing thoroughbred stallions (and the world of horse breeding), producing some of his most innovative work that demonstrated the power, elegance and vulnerability of his subjects.  The same year he made his mark with the then new Observer Food Monthly where his celebrity chefs series was borne, setting a new and radical style for photography.  The equine and the culinary were wildly different topics but, for Reardon, they became his ideal subjects, and allowed him to focus on perfection.

It was no small feat for him to persuade 13 Michelin-star chefs to reimagine Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, with Gordon Ramsay as Christ, and a whole brie, hurled by Marcus Wareing, as his halo – a work (Chefs’ Last Supper, 2003) that was later purchased by the National Portrait Gallery.  For a feature about sexism in the kitchen, he shot a trio of high-profile chefs (Giorgio Locatelli, Phil Howard and Michel Roux) in mini-skirts, fishnets and stilettoes. In another picture Fergus Henderson was hung up by his feet on a hook, next to a pig’s carcass. With an already distinguished career in photojournalism behind him, Reardon went on to make ever more arresting portraits.

Reardon photographed horses like no one else, almost as though they were film stars; even photographing a hoof (Cape Cross, Hoof, 2001) as if it were a fashion statement, perhaps designed by Christian Louboutin; and persuading stallions to glower down the lens (Medaglia D’Oro). Stubbs’ painting of Whistlejacket had inspired him to focus upon abstract elements of the horse, turning the line of neck, withers, back and quarters into lush landscapes and textures, encouraging the viewer to see familiar things entirely afresh (Noverre, Horse Landscape 2, Mane, 2001-2017).

Reardon would be out with his cameras at dawn and there at dusk. He would climb trees to get a better view and his work would take him to Ireland, France, Kentucky, Japan, Australia, and of course Newmarket.  No matter how unlikely these portraits seem, nothing was ever faked in post-production.

Reardon’s widow, Sacha Lehrfreund, has kindly collaborated with the National Horseracing Museum to stage this exhibition. Among the works within the ICONS exhibition will be:



Hoof – Cape Cross, 2001;  Abstract Stripe – Dubawi, 2001;  Abstract Tail/Hoof 2003;  Abstract Water 2003;  Abstract Green Shadow 2003;  Abstract Arched Neck On Paving, Col 2003;  Neck, Kings Best 2001;  Silhouette, Mark Of Esteem, 2001;  Siingspiel Running 2001;  Horse Landscape I, Noverre 2003;  Horse Landscape Ii, Noverre, 2003;  Medaglia D’oro, 2009;  Cape Cross, 2009;  Dubawi, 2009;

Berardini, 2009;  Exceed & Excel 2009;  Holy Bull, 2009;  Slickly, 2009;  Layman, 2009.



Giorgio Locatelli;  Angela Hartnett;  Gary Rhodes;  Anthony Worral Thompson;   Rose Gray;  Paul Heathcote;  The Galvin Brothers; Chris & Jeff;  The Chefs’ Last Supper;  Gordon Ramsay;  Phil Howard;

Stephen Bull;  Pierre Koffman;  Daniel Clifford;  Sat Baines;  Heston Blumenthal;  Giorgio Locatelli & Antonio Carluccio;  Fergus Henderson.


TICKETS: ICONS in The Moller Gallery of the National Horseracing Museum will run from 2 May to 27 October 2024 from 10am – 5pm. Adult tickets cost £15, children free, including admission to the Museum.  Concession rates apply.  Contact the National Horseracing Museum, Palace Street, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8EP on 01638 667314 or visit www.nhrm.co.uk .

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