Posts Tagged ‘Greta Garbo

07
Nov
21

Exhibition: ‘In Lady Barclay’s Salon – Art and Photography around 1900’ at Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Exhibition dates: 19th June 2021 – 9th January 2022

Curator: Anna Tellgren

Artists represented in the exhibition: Anna Boberg, Helmer Bäckström, Julia Margaret Cameron, Uno Falkengren, Gustaf Fjæstad, Ferdinand Flodin, Henry B. Goodwin, John Hertzberg, Gösta Hübinette, Eugène Jansson, Nicola Perscheid and Ture Sellman.

 

 

Otto. 'Girl in Chair' c. 1892

 

Otto
Girl in Chair
c. 1892
Reproduction photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet

 

 

Apologies, a short text today… my lower back is not very good and I am not feeling that well.

Another “niche” exhibition that Art Blart likes to promote, one that fills a gap in our greater knowledge of world art and artists. But why the distinction in the title of the exhibition between art and photography? That old chestnut rears its ugly head again… why not just ‘art around 1900’?

My particular favourites in the posting are the muscular yet translucent Anna Boberg painting A Quiet Evening. Study from North Norway (Nd); the gossamer wispiness and beauty of Ferdinand Flodin’s Portrait of a young lady (1922); and the velvety softness and light of Ture Sellman’s Untitled landscape (c. 1915).

I have added detail of the artists and sitters where possible and information on early photographic processes.

Enjoy!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Moderna Museet for allowing me to publish the photographs and the text in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Moderna Museet highlights Pictorialism – a movement in photography that arose around 1900. The exhibition In Lady Barclay’s Salon – Art and Photography Around 1900 also includes paintings from the same period, treating visitors to a selection of nearly 300 works from the collections of Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum.

This exhibition is based on the rich collections of Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum, with art and photography dating from the late 1800s to the First World War. During this period, pictorialism was a style that many prominent photographers worked in; it was inspired by impressionism, symbolism and naturalism.

Pictorialism was the first international art photography movement, with many active practitioners throughout Europe and the USA. Sweden was on the periphery of this movement, but the style became popular here too among several influential amateur and professional photographers. This was a pivotal period in painting, where the younger artists who went abroad and were inspired by a freer approach broke with the more conservative academic painters. This exhibition will highlight works by famous photographers and painters from the years around the turn of the century.

Dark haired, almond eyed, and irresistibly charming, Lady Sarita Enriqueta Barclay was an influential figure of Stockholm’s Pictorialism movement. Captivated by the experimental nature of Swedish art during the fin de siècle, she hosted elaborate viewings and events, and was photographed often. Known for diffused light, sepia tones, and romanticism, the impressionistic photographs of the era capture a cultural moment in Swedish history.

 

 

 

 

Look into Lady Barclays Salon: Live curator talk

Look into Lady Barclay’s salon and discover Pictorialism, the first art photo stream. Many prominent photographers worked in the style that prevailed from the 1890s and a few decades onwards. Anna Tellgren, curator and Karin Malmquist, program curator, talk about Pictorialism and some of the approximately 300 paintings and photographs that you can see in the exhibition “In Lady Barclays Salon”.

 

August Strindberg. 'Underlandet' (The Wonderland) 1894

 

August Strindberg (Swedish, 1849-1912)
Underlandet (The Wonderland)
1894
Oil on cardboard
72.5cm (28.5 in) x 52cm (20.4 in)
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

 

Johan August Strindberg

Johan August Strindberg (22 January 1849 – 14 May 1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg’s career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote more than sixty plays and more than thirty works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, and politics. A bold experimenter and iconoclast throughout, he explored a wide range of dramatic methods and purposes, from naturalistic tragedy, monodrama, and history plays, to his anticipations of expressionist and surrealist dramatic techniques. From his earliest work, Strindberg developed innovative forms of dramatic action, language, and visual composition. He is considered the “father” of modern Swedish literature and his The Red Room (1879) has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel. In Sweden, Strindberg is known as an essayist, painter, poet, and especially as a novelist and playwright, but in other countries he is known mostly as a playwright. …

Strindberg, something of a polymath, was also a telegrapher, theosophist, painter, photographer and alchemist. Painting and photography offered vehicles for his belief that chance played a crucial part in the creative process.

Strindberg’s paintings were unique for their time, and went beyond those of his contemporaries for their radical lack of adherence to visual reality. The 117 paintings that are acknowledged as his were mostly painted within the span of a few years, and are now seen by some as among the most original works of 19th-century art.

Today, his best-known pieces are stormy, expressionist seascapes, selling at high prices in auction houses. Though Strindberg was friends with Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin, and was thus familiar with modern trends, the spontaneous and subjective expressiveness of his landscapes and seascapes can be ascribed also to the fact that he painted only in periods of personal crisis.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Joseph Mallard William Turner (British, 1775-1851) 'A View of Deal' Nd

 

Joseph Mallard William Turner (British, 1775-1851)
A View of Deal
Nd
Oil on paper on panel
32 x 24cm (12.6 x 9.6 inches)
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

 

The years from 1890 to the first World War were a golden era for the arts in Sweden. This exhibition presents beautiful Pictorialist photographs and selected paintings from this period. The more than 300 works from the rich collections of Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum give us an insight into art at the time.
In Lady Barclay’s Salon, we imagine a meeting between photographers and painters, their friends and the public. Lady Sarita Enriqueta Barclay (1891-1985) was married to a British diplomat, and they both lived in Stockholm for a few years around 1921. She was portrayed several times in the studio of the photographer Henry B. Goodwin. We can assume that she was prominent in the city’s social life and went to previews, dinners and other events.

This exhibition is an opportunity to see a selection of some 300 works by famous photographers and painters in the Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum collections, including Anna Boberg, Helmer Bäckström, Julia Margaret Cameron, Uno Falkengren, Gustaf Fjæstad, Ferdinand Flodin, Henry B. Goodwin, John Hertzberg, Gösta Hübinette, Eugène Jansson, Nicola Perscheid and Ture Sellman.

 

Around the end of the previous century

In the years around 1900, a number of colourful personalities emerged in literature, music, art and architecture, and patrons such as Prince Eugen and Ernest Thiel were building major art collections. The Art and Industry Exhibition in Stockholm in 1897 and the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö in 1914 had sections for art and photography.

The exhibition “In Lady Barclay’s Salon” gives a picture of the visual culture at the time. It features mainly Swedish material, with a few international highlights. The works date from the late-19th century to 1930, a period when Pictorialism was emerging in photography. The style was inspired by impressionism, symbolism and naturalism, and there were lively debates on how to make photography more artistic.

Unlike the increasing number of amateur and professional photographers – who had gained access to the medium thanks to technological progress – the Pictorialists emphasised craftsmanship. Their images are characterised by soft focus and with colours ranging from brown, earthy tones to strong reds and blues. They worked with a variety of processes with the purpose of creating or “painting” on light-sensitive paper. This was the first international art photography movement, and it had many prominent practitioners throughout Europe and the USA.

 

A pivotal time for painting

This was a pivotal period in painting, when the younger artists who travelled abroad and were inspired by a freer approach broke with the more conservative academic painters. The French painter Paul Gauguin and the Pont-Aven school had a strong influence on Swedish artists who adopted symbolist or synthetist approaches. Images were reproduced and distributed more widely in books, posters and magazines, making it easier to share ideas. No longer was it necessary to visit other countries to see the latest art, but Paris was still a mecca for art students. Towards the end of the century, however, Paris was rivalled by Berlin, Munich, Dresden and Hamburg. Copenhagen, with its international relations and exhibitions, also offered a natural meeting place for Swedes.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935) 'View from My Window over Skeppsholmen, Stockholm' 1929

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935)
View from My Window over Skeppsholmen, Stockholm
1929
Bromoil print mounted on board
Moderna Museet
Reproduction photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet

 

Eugène Jansson (Swedish, 1862-1915) 'Hornsgatan nattetid' (Hornsgatan at night) 1902

 

Eugène Jansson (Swedish, 1862-1915)
Hornsgatan nattetid (Hornsgatan at night)
1902
Oil on canvas
152cm (59.8 in) x 182cm (71.6 in)
National Museum (Stockholm)

 

 

Moderna Museet highlights Pictorialism – a movement in photography that arose around 1900. The exhibition In Lady Barclay’s Salon – Art and Photography Around 1900 also includes paintings from the same period, treating visitors to a selection of nearly 300 works from the collections of Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum.

Lady Sarita Enriqueta Barclay (1891-1985) became a prominent figure on the Stockholm arts scene after her husband, a British diplomat, had been posted to Stockholm. Lady Barclay frequently hosted cultural gatherings and events in the five years following the end of the First World War when she lived here. The photographer Henry B. Goodwin (1878-1931) portrayed Lady Barclay on several occasions, and his pictures show her as a stylish woman with a cosmopolitan air – an emblem of Sweden’s flourishing arts scene at the time.

In the years around 1900, a number of colourful personalities emerged in literature, music, art and architecture, and patrons such as Prince Eugen and Ernest Thiel were building major art collections. The Art and Industry Exhibition in Stockholm in 1897, and the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö in 1914, included separate sections for art and photography.

The exhibition In Lady Barclay’s Salon gives a picture of the visual culture at the time, and consists mainly of Swedish material, with a few international highlights. The works date from the late-19th century to 1930, a period when Pictorialism was emerging in photography. The style embraced inspiration from impressionist, symbolist and naturalism, and there was a lively debate on how to make photography more artistic. Unlike the increasing number of amateur and professional photographers – who had gained access to the medium thanks to technological progress – the Pictorialists emphasised craftsmanship. Their images are characterised by soft focus and with colours ranging from brown, earthy tones to strong reds and blues. They worked with a variety of processes with the purpose of creating or “painting” on light-sensitive paper.

Painting also moved into a new phase around 1900. While the older members of the artist federation Konstnärsförbundet, founded in 1886, maintained their dominance, a younger generation was beginning to step in at the turn of the century. The French artist Paul Gauguin and the Pont-Aven school had a strong influence on Swedish artists who adopted symbolist or synthetist approaches. Ideas could be shared more easily with mass-produced images in books, posters and magazines.

In Lady Barclay’s Salon presents a fictive encounter between photographers and painters, their friends and the audience. The exhibition features some 300 works from the collections of Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum, including works by Anna Boberg, Helmer Bäckström, Julia Margaret Cameron, Uno Falkengren, Gustaf Fjæstad, Ferdinand Flodin, Henry B. Goodwin, John Hertzberg, Gösta Hübinette, Eugène Jansson, Nicola Perscheid and Ture Sellman.

“This is an opportunity to discover a less well-known part in the history of photography, where the artistic aspects of the medium were discussed fervently, and where there are many intriguing links to painting at the time,” says the exhibition’s curator, Anna Tellgren. “The exhibition highlights both famous and unknown photographers and artists who were practising around 1900, and reveals some fantastic visual treasures from our collection.”

Press release from Moderna Museet

 

Prince Eugen, Duke of Närke (Swedish, 1865-1947) 'Tidig vintermorgon' (Early winter morning) 1906-1907

 

Prince Eugen, Duke of Närke (Swedish, 1865-1947)
Tidig vintermorgon (Early winter morning)
1906-1907
Oil on canvas
77cm (30.3 in) x 89cm (35 in)
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

 

Prince Eugen

After finishing high school, Prince Eugen studied art history at Uppsala University. Although supported by his parents, Prince Eugen did not make the decision to pursue a career in painting easily, not least because of his royal status. He was very open-minded and interested in the radical tendencies of the 1880s. The Duke became one of the era’s most prominent landscape painters. He was first trained in painting by Hans Gude and Wilhelm von Gegerfelt.

Between 1887 and 1889, he studied in Paris under Léon Bonnat, Alfred Philippe Roll, Henri Gervex and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Puvis de Chavannes’s classical simplicity had the greatest influence on Prince Eugen’s work. The Duke devoted himself entirely to landscape painting. He was mainly interested in the lake Mälaren, the countryside of Stockholm (such as Tyresö, where he spent his summers), Västergötland (most notably Örgården, another summer residence) and Skåne (especially Österlen).

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931) 'Bragevägen Stockholm's loveliest street' 1917

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931)
Bragevägen Stockholm’s loveliest street
1917
Reproduction photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet

 

 

About the exhibition In Lady Barclay’s Salon

The exhibition “In Lady Barclay’s Salon – Art and Photography around 1900” highlights the period from 1890 and up to the First World War. It was a golden age for the arts in Sweden. A number of noteworthy figures appear within the fields of literature, music, art and architecture. Among them are Verner von Heidenstam, Ellen Key, Selma Lagerlöf and August Strindberg.

Art patrons Prince Eugen and Ernest Thiel acquired large art collections, that can still be admired in their respective homes: Waldermarsudde and Thielska Galleriet on Djurgården. Both buildings were designed by the architect Ferdinand Boberg, who included Renaissance, oriental and late Jugend style elements.

The renowned artist Eva Bonnier was another important figure. Better communications in the form of railways and telephone networks contributed to the development of cities, and a growing, export-oriented industry in Sweden. The 1897 Art and Industry Exposition in Stockholm and, a few years later, the 1914 Baltic Exhibition in Malmö, were manifestations of this progressive outlook. Both included sections that showed art and photography.

It was a time of Scandinavianism, and many Nordic collaborations and groups were formed. The women’s movement gained momentum, and in 1919 women were finally given the right to vote. For the first time, after a long struggle, they were able to cast their vote in the 1921 lower house election – exactly one hundred years ago.

 

Pictorialism developed as a photographic movement

This exhibition offers a glimpse of visual culture from this period by means of some 300 works from the rich collections of Moderna Museet and National museum. While most of these are Swedish in origin, there are some international examples.

The works span a period from the late 19th century to 1930. During this period, Pictorialism developed as a distinct movement that took a different direction from amateur and professional photography. Technical advances, the arrival of roll film for example, made photography accessible to a wider circle of practitioners. The Pictorialists, however, were interested in the craft of photography.

The style was inspired by impressionism, symbolism and naturalism, and there was a heated debate on how to develop photography as an art form. The monochrome portrait paintings of the symbolist Eugène Carrière, for example, clearly influenced art photography around 1900.

The Pictorialists’ images are characterised by soft focus and a palette that ranges from brown, earthy tones to strong reds and blues. They worked with a variety of processes such as gum bichromate, platinum and bromoil printing with the purpose of creating or “painting” on light-sensitive paper.

This was the first international art photography movement to have a large number of prominent practitioners across Europe and the United States. Clubs were formed to promote this new art photography, among them were the Wiener Camera-Club, the Photo-Club de Paris and the Photo-Secession in New York, with famous members such as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. The works were judged in competitions and shown in galleries and museums and at international salons. The style thus spread to Belgium, Holland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain and the Nordic countries.

 

The artistic period

Sweden was on the periphery of this movement, but it found a following here too, with a number of talented photographers. This period is known as the “artistic period” (konstnärstiden), a term coined in an article by the keen Pictorialist Professor Helmer Bäckström. Bäckström was also an active member of Fotografiska Föreningen (the Photographic Association), a Swedish version of the clubs abroad. The association was established in 1888. Its purpose was to organise meetings and dinners where photography was discussed.

In the 1890s, the professional photographer Herman Hamnqvist was an important introducer of Pictorialism. He promoted artistic photography in his many articles and lectures. Other colourful representatives were Uno Falkengren, Ferdinand Flodin, John Hertzberg, Gösta Hübinette and Ture Sellman.

In Sweden, these new ideas were first picked up by the older generation. They were followed by a younger generation of photographers who introduced and disseminated Pictorialism. This second wave includes Henry B. Goodwin, a major figure in Sweden and the Nordic countries. Goodwin was renowned for his expressive, subdued portraits and his many Stockholm cityscapes.

He also kept up with what went on abroad; among his contacts was the well-known portrait photographer Nicola Persheid, who was active in Berlin for many years. Women photographers disappeared from the history of photography during this period. The networking that took place in clubs and associations seems to have excluded many women, even if they had their own successful studios.

 

Atmospheric style typical of the period

Around 1900, painters entered a new, exciting era. The older members of Konstnärsförbundet (the Artists’ Association), established in 1886, continued to dominate, but a new generation came to the fore around the turn of the century. The French artist Paul Gaugin and the Pont-Aven school were important influences among the Swedish artists.

Helmer Osslund was able to visit Gauguin’s studio, and he later put this experience to practice in his northern landscapes. Carl Wilhelmson was known for his many portraits with motifs from his native West Coast. He taught at the Valand art school in Gothenburg and had a major influence on many artists. Maja and Gustaf Fjæstad founded an artists’ colony by Lake Racken in Värmland where a style in line with current national romanticism tendencies developed. Several local circles or schools in a similar vein were formed across Sweden.

Other important artists at the time were Richard Bergh, Eugène Jansson, Nils Kreuger and Karl Nordström, who all represented and developed an atmospheric style typical of the period. New ideas were now rapidly disseminated via mass-produced pictures in books, volumes of prints and magazines. The artists did not always have to travel abroad in order to find inspiration. However, study trips to Paris, the current art hub, were still important, although Berlin, Munich, Dresden and Hamburg were taking over that role at the end of the 1800s. To Swedish artists, Copenhagen, with its international outlook and exhibitions, became a natural place to gather.

 

New ways of framing and cropping

Japanese art, especially colour woodcuts, which reached Europe via the impressionists were fashionable and encouraged painters and photographers to try new ways of cropping and framing their motifs. The ornamental details and undulating lines that are typical of the Jugend (Art Noveau) period also inspired many painters. Eccentrics such as Ivar Arosenius and Olof Sager-Nelson (see below) were renowned for their sensitive, almost fairy tale-like portraits.

The author August Strindberg (see above) experimented with both painting and photography, which has been studied closely in recent years. Around the turn of the last century, an intermediary generation were overshadowed by great national artists such as Bruno Liljefors, Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn. However, they became an important link to the emerging expressionism and other modernist movements that came to the fore in the first decades of the 20th century.

 

Lady Barclay’s Salon

In Lady Barclay’s Salon we have created a fictional encounter between photographers, painters, their friends and audiences. Sarita Barclay was married to a British diplomat, and the couple lived in Stockholm for a few years around 1921. During these years she attended several portrait sittings with Henry B. Goodwin. We can assume she visited exhibition openings, dinners and other society events.

Social circles do not seem to have mixed a great deal, but there is clear evidence of links between painting and photography. Portraits are a common motif, but the many landscapes, cityscapes, dancers and nudes also offer us information about and a glimpse of the past.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935) 'Greta Gustavsson Garbo' 1923

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935)
Greta Gustavsson Garbo
1923
Reproduction photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet

 

 

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo (born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson 18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990) was a Swedish-American actress. She was known for her melancholic, somber persona due to her many portrayals of tragic characters in her films and for her subtle and understated performances. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on its list of the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema. She was nicknamed “The Divine” because of her whimsical attitude and her willingness to avoid the press. Garbo launched her career with a secondary role in the 1924 Swedish film The Saga of Gösta Berling.

 

James Bourn (Swedish) 'No title' 1905 

 

James Bourn (Swedish, Gothenburg)
No title
1905

 

Herrman Sylwander (Swedish, 1883-1948) 'Tora Teje in 'Inom lagens gränser'' (Tora Teje in 'Within the Limits of the Law') 1914 

 

Herrman Sylwander (Swedish, 1883-1948)
Tora Teje in ‘Inom lagens gränser’ (Tora Teje in ‘Within the Limits of the Law’)
1914

 

 

Tora Teje (17 January 1893 – 30 April 1970) was a Swedish theatre and silent film actress. She appeared in ten films between 1920 and 1939.

 

 

Photographic Processes and Materials around 1900

In 1888, Kodak launched the first roll-film hand camera. It revolutionised the market and turned photography into something everyone could enjoy. The specially constructed cameras were sent back to the factory where the pictures were processed. In 1900, Kodak introduced the popular Brownie, a classic box camera.
Another aspect of the increased interest in and use of photographs was that mass produced pictures were now easy to publish in books, volumes of prints and magazines. One example is photogravure, but there were many other processes. The Pictorialists used various processing methods and materials, some of which were closer to printmaking and painting, and they avoided regular photographic materials. The craft of making photographs was important, which was in line with an interest in and revival of older techniques as industrialism gained momentum during the Jugend period.

Professional photographers engaged in portrait photography and took on other commissions for their customers. Among the most prominent Pictorialists, many had second jobs. The tension between, or the different preconditions for photographers who embraced a more artistic form of expression and those who were forced to earn a living from selling their photographs is relevant to this day. There were many conflicts between members of Fotografiska Föreningen (the Photographers’ Association) – which to begin with only accepted amateurs – and the industry association Svenska Fotografers Förbund (the Association of Professional Photographers). At the same time, there are many examples of contacts and collaborations between different types of photographers around the turn of the last century.

Terminology was often translated from German and English, and in older literature you often find processes described in Swedish as gummitryck (gum print), pigmenttryck (pigment print) or oljetryck (oil print). However, the process is not strictly “printing”; the images were developed on light-sensitive paper. Instead of using the most common type of photographic paper with light-sensitive coating of silver salts in gelatine or albumin, the Pictorialists worked with other light-sensitive solutions. The image was often contact printed under a negative, which resulted in a picture with the same dimensions as the negative. The Pictorialists’ images are characterised by soft focus and often a grainy, print-like texture in hues that go from earthy browns to strong reds and blues.

 

Carbon print

A pigment, potassium bichromate and gelatine emulsion on thin paper is subjected to natural light in contact with a negative. The image is formed with the help of pigment in the desired colour. After exposure, the image is transferred to a new paper. This is the original. The image stands out in clear relief and is reversed, which can be corrected by repeating the transfer process onto a new paper. The tone is often dark brown or black, but it varies depending on the type of pigment used. Factory-made paper by Bühler and Höchheimer were sensitised in alcohol. This process is called carbon print, especially when it features black pigment. It was in use between 1864 until the end of the 1930s.

 

John Hertzberg (Swedish, 1871-1935) 'No title' 1903

 

John Hertzberg (Swedish, 1871-1935)
No title
1903
Gum Bichromate Print

 

 

Gum Bichromate print

The gum bichromate process was invented in 1894. It is achieved by applying a solution of pigment, potassium bicharbonate and gum arabic to paper. The components are mixed in water and brushed on. When the coat has dried, it is light-sensitive, and the areas under the negative that are not exposed to light is stabilised. The rest is rinsed off in water. The colour range is very limited. The motif is often built up through multiple coats, erasures and applications of colour. The images are generally monochrome, reminiscent of charcoal or pastels. It is necessary to use a coarse-grained or uneven paper for the emulsion to adhere, which enhances the graphic qualities of the image. Custom-made paper for this method was marketed by Höchheimer, Bühler and Fresson.

 

Ture Sellman (Swedish, 1888-1969) 'Landskap' (Landscape) c. 1913

 

Ture Sellman (Swedish, 1888-1969)
Landskap (Landscape)
c. 1913
Pigment print mounted on board
27.5 × 21.4​cm

 

 

Oil print

An emulsion consisting of potassium bichromate and gelatine is applied to paper and exposed to light. It results in an almost invisible gelatine image in relief. The gelatine absorbs and repels greasy pigments, which can be fixed by means of a rubber roller or brush. This method gives a grainy image that resembles art prints and drawings.

 

Olof Sager-Nelson (Swedish, 1868–1896) 'Flickhuvud II' (A Girl's Head II) 1902

 

Olof Sager-Nelson (Swedish, 1868–1896)
Flickhuvud II (A Girl’s Head II)
1902
Oil on canvas
41 cm (16.1 in) x 33 cm (12.9 in)
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

Ebba-Lisa Roberg (Swedish, 1904-1993) 'No title' 1927

 

Ebba-Lisa Roberg (Swedish, 1904-1993)
No title
1927
Bromoil print

 

 

Bromoil print

Colour pigments on a silver, potassium bichromate and gelatine emulsion on paper. A silver bromide image on paper is sensitized by means of potassium bichromate with an addition of copper sulphate and potassium bromide, then fixer is added. The image is soaked in water, and a gelatine relief is produced, which can be coloured multiple times by brushing or rolling on greasy ink. The tone is determined by the pigments in the ink. A variation is achieved when the wet, tinted gelatine relief is pressed against a paper and the ink is transferred. The image is reversed with a matt finish and pressure marks from the original print. This method was used between 1907 and the 1940s.

 

Uno Falkengren (Swedish, 1889-1964) 'Nöd'. Arranged dance group with Anna Behle in the middle, Stockholm 1917

 

Uno Falkengren (Swedish, 1889-1964)
Nöd. Arranged dance group with Anna Behle in the middle, Stockholm
1917
Sepia platinum type mounted on paper
23.7 x 24.2cm

 

 

Platinum print

A paper is given a coat of a potassium chloropatinate and iron oxalate. It is then exposed to daylight through a negative. The image is developed as potassium oxalate dissolves the iron salts and transform the platinum salts to metallic platinum embedded in the paper fibres. This process offers few opportunities for manual manipulation. Platinum prints are characterised by a smooth, neutral greyscale. Platinum was relatively inexpensive before the First World War, and prepared papers were readily available. Today, platinum is used in combination with palladium. The method was used as far back as in 1873.

 

Photogravure

Colour pigment on paper. A paper base coated in potassium bichromates in gelatine are exposed to UV light in contact with a transparent positive. The gelatine coating is thereby stabilised and is then transferred face down to a copper plate. When ink is applied to the plate, it adheres to the etched areas after which the image is printed on paper in a printing press. Photogravures have a clearly defined depression from the edges of the plate, and each print is an original. Shadows are similar to charcoal pigment and highlights match the colour of the paper. This method is classified as a photomechanical print and is not in fact a true photograph. It has been used since the 1880s.

 

Nils Kreuger (Swedish, 1838-1930) 'Vårafton' (Spring evening) 1896

 

Nils Kreuger (Swedish, 1838-1930)
Vårafton (Spring evening)
1896
Oil on mahogany panel
48.5cm (19 inches) x 60.1cm (23.6 inches)
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

 

Nils Edvard Kreuger

Nils Edvard Kreuger (11 October 1858 – 11 May 1930) was a Swedish painter. He specialised in landscapes and rural scenes.

In 1874, he began his studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, but was forced to discontinue them due to illness. In 1878, he was able to resume studying at the private painting school of Edvard Perséus. He then went to Paris, in 1881, and studied with Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Colarossi. Much of his time was spent painting en plein air in Grez-sur-Loing. As his style progressed, he showed a preference for painting at dawn or dusk, in haze or rain. His first exhibition at the Salon came in 1882.

After 1885, he was a supporter of the “Opponenterna [sv]”, a group that was opposed to the outmoded teaching methods at the Royal Academy. He was also active in creating the Konstnärsförbundet [sv] (Artists’ Union). At this time, he abandoned painting en plein air in favour of Romantic nationalism. In 1886, he married Bertha Elisabeth von Essen (1857-1932), the daughter of an army officer, and settled in Bourg-la-Reine.

In 1887, he returned to Sweden, looking for a quiet place to paint, and chose Varberg, where he worked with Richard Bergh and Karl Nordstrom to establish what came to be known as the Varbergsskolan [sv]; a term coined by Prince Eugen, himself an amateur artist. It was a reaction to the prevailing realistic style of landscape painting and may have been inspired by Bergh’s attraction to the works of Paul Gauguin. He was also influenced by Van Gogh, whose paintings were exhibited in Copenhagen in 1893.

In 1896, he moved to Stockholm, but visited Öland in the summers, where he painted cows and horses. After 1900, his palette lightened and he began adding dots to his work. He also did illustrations, designed furniture and produced some humorous paintings called the “historiska baksidor” (historic backs), showing famous rulers from behind. Between 1904 and 1905, he executed some large wall paintings at the Engelbrektsskolan [sv]. In his final years, he had problems with his eyesight, but was able to continue painting.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Gösta Hübinette (Swedish, 1897-1980) 'Forntida' (Ancient) 1928

 

Gösta Hübinette (Swedish, 1897-1980)
Forntida (Ancient)
1928
Gelatine Silver Print

 

 

Gelatine silver print

The most common form of black and white photography in the 20th century. A photo paper with a coating of light-sensitive silver halogens in gelatine are exposed and developed. There are many varieties of this process with different texture and glossiness, dynamic range and contrast. The result depends on the types of paper, developer and additive tones that are used.

 

Bibliography

Håkan Petersson, “Photographic materials”, Another Story. Photography from the Moderna Museet Collection, ed. Anna Tellgren, Stockholm: Moderna Museet and Göttingen: Steidl, 2011, pp. lxi-lxiii.

Pär Rittsel and Rolf Söderberg, “Konstnärstidens metoder”, Den svenska fotografins historia 1840–1940, Stockholm: Bonnier Fakta Bokförlag AB, 1983, p. 240-241.

Lena Johannesson, Den massproducerade bilden. Ur bildindustrialismens historia, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell Förlag AB, 1978.

Impressionist Camera. Pictorial Photography in Europe, 1889-1918, ed. Philip Prodger, London/New York: Merrell Publishers Limited, 2006, pp. 322-324.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931) 'Carin' 1920

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931)
Carin
1920
Reproduction photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet

 

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931)

Henry B. Goodwin, born in Munich as Henry Buergel, was the most successful representative of Pictorialism. He arrived in Sweden in 1905 in order to teach German at Uppsala University. Some ten years later, in 1914, he moved to Stockholm where he opened a studio, Kamerabilder, which was popular with painters and artists.

His many superb portraits were achieved with small means: the subject is captured against a dark, neutral backdrop. His soft, smoky Stockholm cityscapes have been collected in a series of special editions, and Goodwin’s keen interest in gardening was expressed through meticulously arranged close-ups of plants.

Goodwin enjoyed a large, international network and launched the term bildmässig (pictorial) photography as an alternative to artistic photography. It was a term that came to be used frequently in the photographic debate.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879) 'The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty' 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty
1866

 

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)

A small pioneering group of photographers in Victorian England were the first to experiment with, and who attempted to formulate, an aesthetic around artistic photography. Julia Margaret Cameron was part of this group. She left behind a wonderful collection of intimate portraits of members of her family and large circle of friends. She was an amateur, predominantly active during the 1860s and 1870s.

Cameron specialised in expressive soft-focus photographs of staged motifs borrowed from mythology, the Bible or English literature, as in her rendering of Alfred Tennyson’s famous poem “Maud” from 1855.

Cameron’s photographs evoke the Pre-Raphaelites with their penchant for the Middle Ages and Renaissance painting. She was a precursor of the photographers that a few decades later formed part of the pictorial movement.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Helmer Bäckström (Swedish, 1891-1964) 'Segel till tork' (Drying sails) 1923

 

Helmer Bäckström (Swedish, 1891-1964)
Segel till tork (Drying sails)
1923

 

 

Helmer Bäckström (Swedish, 1891-1964)

Helmer Bäckström was an important member of Fotografiska Föreningen (the Photographic Association). The association, which was formed in 1888, organised meetings where photography was discussed. A library of books on photography was accumulated, but most important were the photo competitions. Bäckström was a researcher, collector, historian and photographer. In 1948, he was appointed professor of photography at the Royal Institute of Technology. Throughout his career, he wrote about early photography and technical innovations in a series of articles entitled “Samlingar till kamerans och fotografins svenska historia” (Collections of the Swedish History of Cameras and Photography). They were published in the association’s journal, “Nordisk Tidskrift för Fotografi”.

Bäckström was also a Pictorialist; studies of flora and fauna were his favourite motifs. His large collection of photographs was acquired by the Swedish state in 1965. It has been part of the Moderna Museet collection since 1971.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Anna Boberg (Swedish, 1864-1935) 'Stilla afton. Studie från Nordlandet' (A Quiet Evening. Study from North Norway) Nd

 

Anna Boberg (Swedish, 1864-1935)
Stilla afton. Studie från Nordlandet (A Quiet Evening. Study from North Norway)
Nd
40.5 x 70.5cm
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

 

Anna Boberg (Swedish, 1864-1935)

Anna Scholander’s family was part of the Stockholm elite. She was well educated and moved with ease in the salons of Paris and other cities. In Paris she met Ferdinand Boberg, who was to become one of Sweden’s leading architects. They were married in 1888. The couple dedicated their lives to work and travel.

Anna Boberg was highly versatile. She designed textiles, glass and Jugend pottery – one example is the elegant peacock vase from around 1897 for Rörstrand. In 1901, she made a life-changing trip to northern Norway where she fell in love with the rocky landscape around Lofoten, which seemed to rise out of the sea. It woke in her an irresistible urge to paint.

Anna Boberg returned to this location over a period of thirty years. Contrary to her life as a society lady, she embarked on strenuous expeditions on foot and by sea, and she made oil sketches of what she saw which she later used as inspiration in her studio.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935) 'Portrait of a young lady' 1922

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935)
Portrait of a young lady
1922

 

 

Ferdinand Flodin (Swedish, 1863-1935)

One of the foremost portrait photographers of the period was Ferdinand Flodin. During his long career he tried all the different processes that were typical of Pictorialism, and he became a highly skilled photographer. As a young man, he travelled to the United States, and for a number of years he worked in Worcester near Boston. After his return in 1889, he opened a studio in Stockholm where he received celebrities associated with the theatre, art, politics and science.

Besides portraits, his large body of work includes a number of beautiful cityscapes in different colour tones. Flodin continued to travel; he was interested in the international scene and he knew a great deal about early photography. He went on to build a collection of historical photographs, later acquired by Helmer Bäckström. Flodin was active in Svenska Fotografers Förbund (the Swedish Association of Professional Photographers) for many years, and he regularly wrote about technical and financial matters in the association’s journal.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Gösta Hübinette (Swedish, 1897-1980) 'Japanskt' c. 1925

 

Gösta Hübinette (Swedish, 1897-1980)
Japanskt
c. 1925

 

 

Gösta Hübinette (Swedish, 1897-1980)

With their more independent position and experimental approach, amateur photographers were fundamental to the development of the pictorial movement in Sweden and internationally. Gösta Hübinette was interested in art from an early age, but on his family’s advice he studied business administration, and he worked at the carpet business, Myrstedts Matthörna, until he retired. He practiced several disciplines, including painting, but he was most successful as a photographer. Hübinette was part of the circle around Henry B. Goodwin, and in the 1920s he often took part in exhibitions and the important photo competitions.

Hübinette’s photographs are testament to his proficiency in painting, drawing and printmaking. With delicate works such as “Japanskt” (c. 1925) he is also one of the Swedish photographers for whom Japanese woodcuts served as inspiration.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Ture Sellman (Swedish, 1888-1969) 'No title' c. 1915

 

Ture Sellman (Swedish, 1888-1969)
No title
c. 1915

 

 

Ture Sellman (Swedish, 1888-1969)

As an architect, Ture Sellman had his own approach to photography. He was well acquainted with the compositional and technical aspects and was therefore an important figure who also gave lectures. He later became an astute critic. Sellman was among the most vociferous advocates of photography as an artistic medium. His early Bromoil prints are some of the most graphic examples of Swedish Pictorialism.

After having experimented with different artisan processes, Sellman did a complete U-turn in 1920 and became a supporter of the straight photography expression, but his interest in tonality and composition are still visible in his soft-focus photographs from the 1920s.

Sellman designed some seventy buildings, and many of his photographs are testament to his eye for architecture.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Nicola Perscheid (German, 1864-1930) 'No title' c. 1920

 

Nicola Perscheid (German, 1864-1930)
No title
c. 1920

 

 

Nicola Perscheid (German, 1864-1930)

Nicola Perscheid was one of the international figures that came to have a major influence on Pictorialism in Sweden. In the autumn of 1913, he arrived in Stockholm in order to conduct what we would today call a workshop. It was enormously popular. His fame had reached Sweden partly via his former pupil, Henry B. Goodwin.

Perscheid was against retouching, which meant he spend a great deal of time on preparations. Among his portraits are many full-length and half-length photographs of distinguished men and nameless women. Especially his expansive, pared down photographs of women with their soft lines and ornamental jewellery and flowers evoke the pictorial language of symbolism, but also older painting practices.

The Perscheid lens was launched in 1920. This soft-focus lens became especially popular in Europe and Japan.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Uno Falkengren (Swedish, 1889-1964) 'Nöd'. Arranged dance group with Anna Behle in the middle, Stockholm 1917

 

Uno Falkengren (Swedish, 1889-1964)
Nöd. Arranged dance group with Anna Behle in the middle, Stockholm
1917
Sepia platinum type mounted on paper
23.7 x 24.2cm

 

 

Uno Falkengren (Swedish, 1889-1964)

Uno Falkengren belonged to the inner circle around Henry B. Goodwin. Goodwin was also instrumental in allowing Falkengren to study under the distinguished German photographer Nicola Perscheid in Berlin. It was a formative period during which Falkengren developed a minimalistic, elegant style. Among his works are a number of interesting portraits of famous dancers in expressive scenes and groups.

In 1916, he was appointed head of the Nordiska Kompaniet studio. He then worked at his own studio for a few years until he moved to Berlin in 1924. Only a year later, he returned to Stockholm and gave up photography completely. On account of his homosexuality, Falkengren lived an itinerant, partly secret, life. There are elements of queer culture within Pictorialism, as practitioners were often attracted to alternative settings or artists’ communities.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Anna Behle (Swedish, 1876-1966)

Anna Charlotta Behle (Stockholm, August 9, 1876 – Gothenburg, October 2, 1966) was a Swedish dancer and dance teacher. Considered a pioneer of modern dance in Sweden, she first became interested in the art after watching Isadora Duncan perform. She was born to unwed parents, and was adopted, along with her brother August, by the Granbäck family, who ensured that she had a full education. After initial studies in singing with Eugène Crosti and Emile Wartel in Paris, she studied dance with Duncan and with Emile Jacques-Dalcroze; later she would open her own school in Stockholm.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

John Hertzberg (Swedish, 1871-1935) 'No title' 1903

 

John Hertzberg (Swedish, 1871-1935)
No title
1903
Gum Bichromate Print

 

 

John Hertzberg (1871-1935)

John Hertzberg was a technically accomplished photographer. He developed colour photography in Sweden. He was educated in Vienna and was later offered to teach at the Royal Institute of Technology where he was later senior lecturer in photography. He was thereby a key figure in photographic circles.

When Nils Strindberg’s rolls of film were discovered on Kvitøya in the Svalbard archipelago thirty years after S. A. Andrée’s failed balloon Arctic Expedition in 1897, Hertzberg was given the prestigious task of developing the exposed films. He was also editor of the journal “Nordisk Tidskrift för Fotografi” for many years and chairman of Fotografiska Föreningen.

He experimented with different techniques and groups of motifs in a style typical of the time. These include pictures of Stockholm from the water as well as compositions of clouds and shadows.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Eugène Jansson (Swedish, 1862-1915) 'Hornsgatan nattetid' (Hornsgatan at night) 1902

 

Eugène Jansson (Swedish, 1862-1915)
Hornsgatan nattetid (Hornsgatan at night)
1902
Oil on canvas
152cm (59.8 in) x 182cm (71.6 in)
National Museum (Stockholm)

 

 

Eugène Jansson (Swedish, 1862-1915)

Eugène Jansson became a member of the Konstnärsförbundet association of artists in 1886. Inspired by periods spent in France, they painted plein air, impressionist landscapes. Jansson was influenced by these movements from early on. However, he soon progressed to depicting moods rather than the concrete objects he observed.

Many know him from his blue, early evening panoramas of south Stockholm, where he moved in the mid-1890s. In “Hornsgatan nattetid” (1902), everything seems to merge into a blue vision where houses, gas lights and sky form a synthesis.

When Eugène Jansson embarked on a new phase a few years into the 20th century, his motifs were athletic, sun-lit, bathing men. Many found these paintings offensive. Eugène Jansson was a homosexual man at a time when sexual activity between men was against the law.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Gustaf Fjæstad (Swedish, 1868-1948) 'Vinterafton vid en älv' (Winter evening by a river) 1907

 

Gustaf Fjæstad (Swedish, 1868-1948)
Vinterafton vid en älv (Winter evening by a river)
1907
Oil on canvas
150cm (59 in) x 185cm (72.8 in)
Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

 

 

Gustaf Fjæstad (Swedish, 1868-1948)

After having attended art school in Stockholm, Gustaf Fjæstad settled by Lake Racken in Värmland where he founded an artists’ colony. The collective had no common programme, but they supported each other and exhibited their work together. There was also an idea of not distinguishing art from craft.

Fjæstad was not only a painter, he also designed furniture and textiles. “Vinterafton vid en älv” (Winter Evening at the River Bank, 1907) is testament to Fjæstad’s interest in Japanese woodcuts. The painting communicates a strong sense of nature and existential intensity. The surface is accentuated by fields of colour and a Jugend-inspired linear pattern. The motif is a seemingly random section of the river. The trees are cropped at the top of the canvas but touch the water where the eddies evoke the growth rings of the wood.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931) 'Lady Barclay' 1921

 

Henry B. Goodwin (Swedish born Germany, 1878-1931)
Lady Barclay
1921

 

 

Lady Sarita Enriqueta Barclay (British, 1891-1985)

The portraits that Henry B. Goodwin took of Lady Barclay between 1920 and 1922 show a fashion-conscious society woman. Sarita Barclay moved to Stockholm just after the end of the First World War with her husband, Sir Colville Barclay, and their three children. Her husband was Minister to Sweden, a high-ranking British diplomat.

During the five years that Lady Barclay lived in Stockholm she hosted various events, including a dinner in conjunction with an exhibition of French art at the Liljevalchs art gallery at the initiative of Prince Eugen in 1923. Sarita was the daughter of the British sculptor Herbert Ward.

After the death of her first husband, she married Robert Vansittart, a diplomat who spoke out against Nazism before and during the Second World War.

Text from the Moderna Museet website

 

 

Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Moderna Museet is ten minutes away from Kungsträdgården, and twenty minutes from T-Centralen or Gamla Stan. Walk past Grand Hotel and Nationalmuseum on Blasieholmen, opposite the Royal Palace. After crossing the bridge to Skeppsholmen, continue up the hill. The entrance to Moderna Museet and Arkitekturmuseet is on the left-hand side.

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 18
Monday closed

Moderna Museet website

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14
May
19

Exhibition: ‘The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day’ at ONE Gallery, West Hollywood, California

Exhibition dates: 1st March – 17th May 2019

Curator: David J. Getsy

 

 

Greg Day. 'Stephen Varble in the Suit of Armor' October 1975, printed 2018

 

Greg Day (American, b. 1944)
Stephen Varble in the Suit of Armor
October 1975, printed 2018
Digital print
© Greg Day 2019

 

 

“Varble’s total irreverence is no more evident than in his willingness to “cross party lines,” as he did when he wore his Suit of Armor, constructed with gold VO labels from Seagram’s boxes, to both the 1975 Easter Parade and to West Village leather bars! He was an equal opportunity offender, rubbing up against conformity in all forms.”

Bob Nickas. “Stephen Varble: Now More Than Ever,” on the Affidavit website [Online] Cited 10/04/2019

 

 

Confusing queen reigns, on parade

I love doing these posts on artists that certainly I, and I suspect a lot of the readers of this website, would have never have heard of. Artists full of spunk, full of daring-do, artists who rise to challenge the patrons of patriarchy, and the colluders of capitalism (Varble became ever-more critical of commodification and capitalism). Artists who declaim the value of the individual, who shine a light on the plight of the downtrodden and those discriminated against. Can you not once bring yourself to utter the word “AIDS” you bigoted president?

In an era of reactionary religious and right wing hypocrisy – Christian sleaze and paedophilia anyone, anti-Muslim and anti-gay Facebook posts in the Australian election, murderous right wing rampage in New Zealand – now more than ever, we need artists like Stephen Varble (American, 1946-1984). Human beings that speak up and speak out against bigotry, discrimination, and awful men in high places.

“Varble made the recombination of signs for gender a central theme in his increasingly outrageous costumes and performances… [He] sought to make a place for himself outside of art’s institutions and mainstream cultures all the while critiquing them both.” Australian artists such as Leigh Bowery and Brenton Heath-Kerr have a lot to thank Varble for.

He might have risen from the gutter, but his intentions were full of stars.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the ONE Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Varble’s work wasn’t drag in the conventional cross-dressing sense, or “gay art,” which was often defined from a predominantly masculine perspective in the immediate post-Stonewall years. His intention was to stretch and break down the very idea of binary identities, confuse the concept of gender, leave it optional. And this goal puts him well in the framework of queer and transgender thinking now. …

For a series of mid-1970s performances he called “Gutter Art,” he would arrive, elaborately dressed, by limousine (paid for by a Japanese patron, Miyazaki Morihiro) in front of luxury stores on the Upper East Side. Once parked, he unloaded old kitchen utensils from the trunk and started washing them with black ink, as if referring to the domestic life of sweatshop labor. He soon gained notoriety as a kind of cultural terrorist. (Tiffany’s hired guards to keep him out.) He turned up, uninvited, at red carpet events – film premieres, the Met’s Costume Institute gala – to dazzle and deride the guests.

.
Holland Cotter. “Stephen Varble: The Street Was His Stage, the Dress Was His Weapon,” on The New York Times website January 10, 2019 [Online] Cited 10/04/2019

 

 

Greg Day. 'Stephen Varble in the Demonstration Costume with Only One Shoe (for the Chemical Bank Protest)' 22 March 1976, printed 2018

 

Greg Day (American, b. 1944)
Stephen Varble in the Demonstration Costume with Only One Shoe (for the Chemical Bank Protest)
22 March 1976, printed 2018
Digital print
© Greg Day 2019

 

 

“A chauffeured Rolls Royce glides glacially to the curb in front of the Chemical Bank at New York’s Sheridan Square. The uniformed driver, out in an instant, holds open the passenger door. Rather than a well-heeled person to which such a car would belong, a more hallucinatory sight will emerge, equally glamorous and ridiculous. Two legs appear, only one of which has a shoe. The full length of the body gradually appears, improbably covered in netting and not much else, the entwined nets adorned with crumpled bills. What seem to be bare breasts droop from the chest of a figure of otherwise unidentifiable gender, further confused by a toy fighter jet, poised for takeoff, at crotch level. While no words are spoken, a cartoon speech bubble overhead proclaims, cheerily but with a disgruntled undertow: Even Though You May Be Forged, Chemical Still Banks Best!”

Bob Nickas. “Stephen Varble: Now More Than Ever,” on the Affidavit website [Online] Cited 10/04/2019

 

The Chemical Bank Protest was Varble’s most notorious and widely reported disruption, and it encapsulated his disdain for commerce, capitalism, and propriety. To contest a forgery against him, Varble went to the Sheridan Square bank to demand his money returned. He created his Demonstration Costume with Only One Shoe from Christmas tree packaging, gold leaf wrappers, and fake money. His costumes often combined different signs of gender, and here he wore tow condoms filled with cow’s blood for breasts and a toy jet fighter as a codpiece. The toy referenced the plane ticket the forger purchase with the money, and one shoe was missing to “symbolise his economic loss.” Hovering over his head, a speech bubble touted, “Even Though You May Be Forged, Chemical Still Banks Best!”

Varble’s performances often affected an ironic enthusiasms for his targets (be it a bank, a boutique, a gallery, or a presidential candidate), and his insincere flattery was meant to provide cover for his disruption of business as usual.

Arriving in a borrowed limousine, Varble boldly entered to make his demands as the line of customers at the teller window gawked. On being told by the manager that he could not be helped, Varble punctured the blood-filled condoms and dipped a pen in the spilled blood to write checks (for “none-million dollars”) in his dramatic, mime-like movements before sweeping out to the sound of applause from the customers.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

“Varble began to truly set himself apart from other gender-focused 1970s performance artists with his outré 1976 performance at Chemical Bank in Sheridan Square. After hearing that someone had forged his signature and emptied out his bank account, Varble walked into the bank dressed in fake money, with breasts made out of condoms and filled with cow’s blood. He demanded his money back. When the bank teller could not comply, Varble punctured his condom-breasts, spilling blood all over the floor, and wrote checks in blood for “none-million dollars,” which he addressed to his companion at the bank, Peter Hujar. The exhibition includes a photograph Hujar took that day, evoking a time when the lax security in banks allowed artists to perform and express themselves, however outrageously (although Varble was then escorted out of the cow’s blood-filled bank by security).”

Extract from Michael Valinsky. “A Forgotten Precursor of Genderqueer Performance Art,” in Hyperallergic website [Online] Cited 14/05/219

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery showing, at left top, Greg Day’s Stephen Varble with the Enormous Pink Satin and baby Doll (1975); left below Stephen Varble Performing in a Garbage Can at his Loft on Franklin Street (1975); and at centre, Closing Party with Varble’s Enormous Pink Satin Skirt (1975)

 

 

Franklin Street Exhibition and Party Performance

in 1976, Varble organised an exhibition of his own work in the loft her share with Jim McWilliams on Franklin Street. He painted the interiors pink, built large decorations, and displayed all his costumes on cut-out mannequins mounted on the walls. The largest piece in the exhibition was a new work the Enormous Pink Satin Skirt, some fifteen feet in length. The object played a central role in the “Gala Ending” party that closed the exhibition, as can be seen in the photograph (main above). For this major event Varble enlisted the help of established gender non-conforming performers such as Mario Montez, Jackie Curtis, and Taylor Mead to act as living mannequins for his most iconic costumes. Modelling Varble’s art they paraded with his satin silhouette dolls through the crowd and did impromptu performances – such as when Agusta Machado enacted a campy drama of claustrophobia in Varble’s refrigerator. Day was there to capture the wild party, managing to take individual portraits of some of the major performers in attendance…

In the midst of the playful chaos, Varble gathered these Warhol stars and others (such as Paul Ambrose and New York drag personality Ruth Truth) inside the Enormous Pink Satin Skirt, and at a designated time they al burst forth dancing. As the exhibition gave attendees a retrospective view of his output the performance provided a testament to Varble’s place in the queer performance culture of New York. As the art critic Gregory Battock remarked, “It was the kind of event only Stephen Varble could have planned: chaotic, meandering, spurious and very New York […] Even though invitations were hard to come by, everybody was there.”

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery with, from left, Greg Day’s Stephen Varble Destroying his Blue and Green Corrugated Paper Dress from the Camera (October 1975); Stephen Varble in the Elizabethan Farthingale; and Stephen Varble in the Suit of Armor

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery

 

'Stephen Varble, Gutter Art flyer' [recto] 1975

 

Stephen Varble, Gutter Art flyer [recto]
1975
Xerographic print on paper
Courtesy Greg Day and the Leslie-Lohman Museum
Photo: Courtesy Greg Day and the Leslie-Lohman Museum

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery

 

Greg Day. 'Stephen Varble in the Elizabethan Farthingale' October 1975, printed 2018

 

Greg Day (American, b. 1944)
Stephen Varble in the Elizabethan Farthingale
October 1975, printed 2018
Digital print
© Greg Day, 2019

 

 

In costumes made from street trash, food waste, and stolen objects, Stephen Varble (1946-1984) took to the streets of 1970s New York City to perform his “Gutter Art.” With disruption as his aim, he led uninvited costumed tours through the galleries of SoHo, occupied Fifth Avenue gutters, and burst into banks and boutiques in his gender-confounding ensembles. Varble made the recombination of signs for gender a central theme in his increasingly outrageous costumes and performances. While maintaining he/him as his pronouns, Varble performed gender as an open question in both his life and his work, sometimes identifying as a female persona, Marie Debris, and sometimes playing up his appearance as a gay man. Only later would the term “genderqueer” emerge to describe the kind of self-made, non-binary gender options that Varble adopted throughout his life and in his disruptions of the 1970s art world.

At the pinnacle moment of Varble’s public performances, the photographer Greg Day (b. 1944) captured the inventiveness and energy of his genderqueer costume confrontations. Trained as an artist and anthropologist and with a keen eye for documenting ephemeral culture as it flourished, Day took hundreds of photographs of Varble’s trash couture, public performances, and events in 1975 and 1976. Varble understood the importance of photographers, and Day was his most important photographic collaborator. This exhibition brings together a selection of Day’s photographs of Varble performing his costume works and also includes Day’s photographs of Varble’s friends and collaborators such as Peter Hujar, Jimmy DeSana, Shibata Atsuko, Agosto Machado, and Warhol stars Jackie Curtis, Taylor Mead, and Mario Montez.

Varble sought to make a place for himself outside of art’s institutions and mainstream cultures all the while critiquing them both. The story of Varble told through Day’s photographs is both about their synergistic artistic friendship and about the queer networks and communities that made such an anti-institutional and genderqueer practice imaginable. Together, Varble and Day worked to preserve the radical potential of Gutter Art for the future.

The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble builds upon the 2018 retrospective exhibition of Stephen Varble’s work at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, titled Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble, as featured in the New York Times on January 11, 2019. The new ONE Gallery exhibition, with its focus on the collaboration of Varble with the photographer Greg Day, will explore the ways in which Varble’s disruptive guerrilla performance art has lived on primarily through vibrant photographs that captured his inventive costumes, transformed trash, and public confrontations.

The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s photographs by Greg Day is curated by David J. Getsy, Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History at the  School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble is organised by the ONE Archives Foundation, Inc. Generous support is provided by the City of West Hollywood.

About the ONE Archives Foundation, Inc.

The ONE Archives Foundation, Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) dedicated to telling the accurate and authentic stories of LGBTQ people, history and culture through public exhibitions, educational projects and trainings, and community outreach programs. Our exhibitions, school programs, and community outreach programs are free. We depend entirely on members of the public and private foundations for support.

Press release from the ONE Gallery [Online] Cited 10/04/2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery showing, at left, a still from Stephen Varble’s video Journey to the Sun (1978-1983); and at right Greg Day’s Stephen Varble in the Piggy Bank Dress (1975)

 

Stephen Varble (American, 1946-1984)
Journey to the Sun
1978-1983
U-matic video transferred to digital, 2018
Courtesy David J. Getsy

 

 

Varble receded from the art world and from street performance around 1977, becoming ever-more critical of commodification and capitalism. As he told an interviewer that year, “This is the age of pornography and contempt. The dollar is good. […] The end of capitalism is coming.” Varble instead began to develop private performances and videos about his private mythologies and messianic dreams. His last five years were consumed with working on an epic, operatic work of video art: Journey to the Sun. It started in 1978 as a performance about the mythology of Greta Garbo, and Varble invited friends to his Riverside Drive apartment to view his monologues accompanied by project slides. His ambitions soon outgrew this format, and he turned to video for its ability to combine text, image and performance. He considered these videos to be revivals of illuminated Medieval manuscripts with their rich visual play between words and pictures, and he called his group of collaborators in the video the “Happy Arts School of Manuscript Illumination.” The aim of the “school” was to promote Varble’s vision of societal transformation through the making of modern fables in the form of videos, books, and prints. His “video books,” as he called the tapes, offered an “antidote to nature’s ruin on this heavenly globe.”

Journey to the Sun tells the story of a musician, the Grey Crowned Warbler, who undergoes tribulation and metamorphosis on a journey to transcendence. The tale is a loosely autobiographical fable of an artist who encounters a stern mystical teacher, Sage Purple Pythagoras (played by his partner, Daniel Cahill) who tests the Warbler. Many of Varble’s iconic costumes feature in the video, and he combined elements of his own history with references to literature, religion, and popular culture (notably, Garbo). Combining heavily scripted monologues with improvised performances. Journey to the Sun does not offer a tidy or easily understood narrative. Rather, it sketches a fantastic and surreal visual world in which dreams are realised through the transformations of everyday objects, popular imagery, and rubbish.

To make this “rodeo-paced” video, Varble filled his apartment with drawings and writings on the walls, blacked out the windows, and began filming scenes both scripted and improvised with collaborators. Journey to the Sun is remarkable for its time due to the complexity and density of the video editing – all of which was done by Varble in his apartment. He only completed about thirty percent of his planned work before his death from AIDS-related complications in January 1984. This screening copy presents a continuous segment of around 80 minutes that has been selected from the three surviving U-matic master tapes, but no changes have been made other than the choice of where to begin and end this combined excerpt. This is but a fragment of the much longer video epic Varble hoped would be his major contribution.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day' at ONE Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, photographs by Greg Day at ONE Gallery showing Stephen Varble’s Blue Boy

 

 

“One afternoon, Stephen invited me to accompany him to a performance in midtown Manhattan. He bought Blue Boy with him. We took the F train uptown from Washington Square. Sitting on the subway car bench and wearing his Chemical Bank Protest attire. Stephen hugged, kissed, fondled and poked Blue Boy. He spoke to him in an affectionate and sometimes argumentative language of moans, “ohs” and clicks. I sat across from him and watched as people entered the car. They stared, laughed, gasped, and made disparaging remarks about his sanity before moving to another part of the subway car. Even riding the train was an opportunity for Stephen to shock.”

Greg Day
Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

Gutter Art: Stephen Varble and Genderqueer Performance on the Streets of 1970s New York with David J. Getsy from Leslie-Lohman Museum on Vimeo.

 

Greg Day. 'Stephen Varble at the 12th Annual Avant-Garde Festival' 1975

 

Greg Day (American, b. 1944)
Stephen Varble at the 12th Annual Avant-Garde Festival
1975
Digital print
© Greg Day 2019

 

 

ONE Gallery, West Hollywood
626 N. Robertson Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Opening hours:
Thursday – Sunday: 11.00 am – 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm – 6.00 pm
Closed Monday – Wednesday

ONE Archives website

ONE Gallery, West Hollywood website

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22
Mar
17

Exhibition: ‘Edward Steichen: Twentieth-Century Photographer’ at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA

Exhibition dates: 7th October 2016 – 26th March 2017

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Self-Portrait with Studio Camera' 1917; printed 1982

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Self-Portrait with Studio Camera
1917; printed 1982
Silver gelatin print
13 1/8 x 10 5/8 inches (image and paper)
Gift of Stephen L. Singer and Linda G. Singer

 

 

Just for enjoyment.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Self-Portrait with Studio Camera' c. 1917

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Self-Portrait with Studio Camera
c. 1917
Gelatin silver print

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Self-Portrait with photographers paraphernalia' 1929

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Self-Portrait with photographers paraphernalia
1929
Gelatin silver print

 

Installation view of 'Edward Steichen: Twentieth-Century Photographer' at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

 

Installation view of Edward Steichen: Twentieth-Century Photographer at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Courtesy Photo/Clements Photography and Design, Boston
Creative Commons

 

 

DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is pleased to present the upcoming exhibition Edward Steichen: Twentieth-Century Photographer. Edward Steichen (1879-1973) is known for his role in expanding the breadth of twentieth-century photography through his memorable images and his work as a gallery director and museum curator. Steichen was a painter, horticulturalist, museum curator, graphic designer, publisher, and film director. He also served as a military photographer in both World Wars, and lived a life that embraced a century transformed by modernisation. On view in the James and Audrey Foster Galleries, the exhibition is drawn from deCordova’s permanent collection, and features important loans from private collectors and select institutions. The majority of photographs included in this show were made from Steichen’s original negatives and printed after his death in the 1980s by photographer George Tice. The exhibition also features a select number of vintage prints printed by Steichen in the 1910s and 1920s that reveal the lush interpretations he made with experimental printing techniques.

From his early Pictorialist images with their painterly quality, to his decades-long work as a commercial photographer for Condé Nast, Steichen explored the full range of the photographic medium. In his role as the Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, he often reproduced and integrated other photographers’ work into groundbreaking exhibitions that reflected his curatorial practice. The combined aspects of his career as a photographer and curator positioned Steichen to become a controversial yet prescient advocate for photography’s ability to record and amplify human observation, endeavour, and creativity.

The exhibition includes portraits of glamorous celebrities and socialites, still-life photographs of plants and flowers, dynamic cityscapes, and commercial advertisements. Also on view are Steichen’s portraits of fellow artists and writers that reveal his place among avant-garde cultural communities in New York and Europe. Edward Steichen also explores his work as the head of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit in World War II, and traces his role at the Museum of Modern Art, NY where he curated over forty exhibitions. The aesthetic range of the images shows Steichen’s experimentation throughout his career with new techniques for lighting, composing, and printing photographs.

Edward Steichen continues deCordova’s longstanding commitment to the exhibition and collection of important photographic works. The exhibition opens to the public on October 7, 2016 and will be on view until March 26, 2017.

Press release from the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Auguste Rodin and the Monument to Victor Hugo' 1902

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Auguste Rodin and the Monument to Victor Hugo
1902
Gum bichromate print

 

 

When Edward Steichen arrived in Paris in 1900, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was regarded not only as the finest living sculptor but also perhaps as the greatest artist of his time. Steichen visited him in his studio in Meudon in 1901 and Rodin, upon seeing the young photographer’s work, agreed to sit for his portrait. Steichen spent a year studying the sculptor among his works, finally choosing to show Rodin in front of the newly carved white marble of the “Monument to Victor Hugo,” facing the bronze of “The Thinker.” In his autobiography, Steichen describes the studio as being so crowded with marble blocks and works in clay, plaster, and bronze that he could not fit them together with the sculptor into a single negative. He therefore made two exposures, one of Rodin and the “Monument to Victor Hugo,” and another of “The Thinker.” Steichen first printed each image separately and, having mastered the difficulties of combining the two negatives, joined them later into a single picture, printing the negative showing Rodin in reverse.

Text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq.' 1903

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq.
1903
Gum bichromate over platinum print

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'The Flatiron' 1904

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
The Flatiron
1904
Gum bichromate over platinum print

 

 

While Steichen’s palette recalls Whistler’s Nocturne paintings and the foreground branch echoes those often found in the Japanese prints that were much in vogue in turn-of-the-century Paris, his subject is distinctly modern and American. The newly completed, twenty-two-story skyscraper soars so high above Madison Square in New York that it could not be contained within the photographer’s frame… Steichen’s three variant printings of The Flatiron, each in a different tonality, evoke successive moments of twilight and forcefully assert that photography can rival painting in scale, colour, individuality, and expressiveness.

Text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Lotus, Mount Kisco, New York' 1915; printed 1982

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Lotus, Mount Kisco, New York
1915; printed 1982
Silver gelatin print
13 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches (image and paper)
Gift of Diane Singer in honour of the marriage of Diane Singer to Eric Pearlman

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) Alfred 'Stieglitz' 1915; printed 1982

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Alfred Stieglitz
1915; printed 1982
Silver gelatin print
9 5/8 x 7 3/4 inches (image and paper)
Gift of Stephen L. Singer and Linda G. Singer

 

 

The most recognisable of these images involve celebrity. Artists – Constantin Brancusi, Eugene O’Neill – and actors Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Marlene Dietrich, the unforgettable Greta Garbo – all sat for Steichen, who strove for a discovery of the individual.

In black-and-white photography, composition, cast and shadow take prominence. Looming stage equipment behind a smiling Chaplin quietly recalls his movie roles. Garbo, clutching her “terrible hair,” wordlessly speaks volumes about her self- and public images. Carl Sandburg (Steichen’s brother-in-law) gazes poetically away from the camera. German author Gerhart Hauptmann stares directly into the camera under the starry firmament. The British dramaturge E. Gordon Craig poses foppishly in front of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

Keith Powers. “DeCordova focuses on the varied career photographer Edward Steichen,” on The Metro West Daily News website [Online] Cited 21/03/2017. No longer available online

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Brancusi, Voulangis, France' c. 1922; printed 1987

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Brancusi, Voulangis, France
c. 1922; printed 1987
Silver gelatin print
13 x 10 1/2 inches (image and paper)
Gift of Stephen L. Singer and Linda G. Singer

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Carl Sandburg, Umpawaug, Connecticut' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Carl Sandburg, Umpawaug, Connecticut
1930
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American poet, writer, and editor who won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Sandburg was widely regarded as “a major figure in contemporary literature”, especially for volumes of his collected verse, including Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920). He enjoyed “unrivalled appeal as a poet in his day, perhaps because the breadth of his experiences connected him with so many strands of American life”, and at his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that “Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Greta Garbo' 1929

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Greta Garbo
1929
Silver gelatin print

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'E. Gordon Craig, Paris' 1920, printed in 1987

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
E. Gordon Craig, Paris
1920, printed in 1987
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Edward Henry Gordon Craig CH OBE (16 January 1872 – 29 July 1966), sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was an English modernist theatre practitioner; he worked as an actor, director and scenic designer, as well as developing an influential body of theoretical writings…

Craig’s idea of using neutral, mobile, non-representational screens as a staging device is probably his most famous scenographic concept. In 1910 Craig filed a patent which described in considerable technical detail a system of hinged and fixed flats that could be quickly arranged to cater for both internal and external scenes. He presented a set to William Butler Yeats for use at the Abbey Theatre in Ireland, who shared his symbolist aesthetic.

Craig’s second innovation was in stage lighting. Doing away with traditional footlights, Craig lit the stage from above, placing lights in the ceiling of the theatre. Colour and light also became central to Craig’s stage conceptualisations…

The third remarkable aspect of Craig’s experiments in theatrical form were his attempts to integrate design elements with his work with actors. His mise en scène sought to articulate the relationships in space between movement, sound, line, and colour. Craig promoted a theatre focused on the craft of the director – a theatre where action, words, colour and rhythm combine in dynamic dramatic form.

All of his life, Craig sought to capture “pure emotion” or “arrested development” in the plays on which he worked. Even during the years when he was not producing plays, Craig continued to make models, to conceive stage designs and to work on directorial plans that were never to reach performance. He believed that a director should approach a play with no preconceptions and he embraced this in his fading up from the minimum or blank canvas approach.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'The Blue Sky, Long Island, New York' 1923; printed 1987

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
The Blue Sky, Long Island, New York
1923; printed 1987
Silver gelatin print
9 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches (image and paper)
Gift of Stephen L. Singer and Linda G. Singer

 

 

DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
51 Sandy Pond Road in Lincoln, Massachusetts

Opening hours (Winter hours):
Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum website

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30
Dec
14

Exhibition: ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Exhibition dates: 6th September 2014 – 4th January 2015

Curator: Susanna Brown, Curator of Photographs at the V&A

 

 

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

 

Installation image of Horst – Photographer of Style at the V&A
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

 

Steichen, Penn, Avedon, Newman – and then there is Horst, master of them all. Style, elegance, lighting, framing, colour but above all panache – the guts and talent to push it just that little bit further.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Victoria & Albert Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Fashion is an expression of the times. Elegance is something else again.”

.
Horst, 1984

 

 

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

 

Installation images of Horst – Photographer of Style at the V&A
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

 

This autumn, the V&A will present the definitive retrospective exhibition of the work of master photographer Horst P. Horst (1906-1999) – one of the leading photographers of the 20th century. In his illustrious 60-year career, German-born Horst worked predominantly in Paris and New York and creatively traversed the worlds of photography, art, fashion, design, theatre and high society.

Horst: Photographer of Style will display 250 photographs, alongside haute couture garments, magazines, film footage and ephemera. The exhibition explores Horst’s collaborations and friendships with leading couturiers such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in Paris; stars including Marlene Dietrich and Noël Coward; and artists and designers such as Salvador Dalí and Jean-Michel Frank. Highlights of the exhibition include photographs recently donated to the V&A by Gert Elfering, art collector and owner of the Horst Estate, previously unpublished vintage prints, and more than 90 Vogue covers by Horst.

The exhibition will also reveal lesser-known aspects of Horst’s work: nude studies, travel photographs from the Middle East and patterns created from natural forms. The creative process behind some of his most famous photographs, such as the Mainbocher Corset, will be revealed through the inclusion of original contact sheets, sketches and cameras. The many sources that influenced Horst – from ancient Classical art to Bauhaus ideals of modern design and Surrealism in 1930s Paris – will be explored.

Martin Roth, Director of the V&A said: “Horst was one of the greatest photographers of fashion and society and produced some of the most famous and evocative images of the 20th century. This exhibition will shine a light on all aspects of his long and distinguished career. Horst’s legacy and influence, which has been seen in work by artists, designers and performers including Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber and Madonna, continues today.”

Horst’s career straddled the opulence of pre-war Parisian haute couture and the rise of ready-to-wear in post-war New York and his style developed from lavish studio set-ups to a more austere approach in the latter half of the 20th century. The exhibition will begin in the 1930s with Horst’s move to Paris and his early experiments in the Vogue studio. Among his first models and muses were Lisa Fonssagrives, Helen Bennett and Lyla Zelensky. Vintage black and white photographs from the archive of Paris Vogue will be displayed alongside garments in shades of black, white, silver and gold by Parisian couturiers such as Chanel, Lanvin, Molyneux and Vionnet.

The exhibition will then focus on Horst’s Surreal-inspired studies and collaborations with Salvador Dalí and Elsa Schiaparelli. Fashion photographs will be shown with trompe l’oeil portraits and haunting still life. Horst excelled at portraiture and in the 1930s he captured some of Hollywood’s brightest stars: Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Noël Coward, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, to name a few.

Horst travelled widely throughout the 1940s and 1950s to Israel, Iran, Syria, Italy and Morocco. An escape from the world of fashion and city environs, his little-known travel photographs reveal a fascination for ancient cultures, landscapes and architecture. On display will be works taken in Iran such as the Persepolis Bull, Horst’s powerful image of a vast sculpture head amidst the ruins of a once magnificent palace, and images documenting the annual migration of the nomadic Qashqai clan.

Detailed studies of natural forms such as flowers, minerals, shells and butterfly wings from the project Patterns From Nature, will be shown alongside a series of kaleidoscopic collages made by arranging photographs in simple repeat; his intention was that these dynamic patterns could be used as designs for textiles, wallpaper, carpets, plastics and glass.

Horst was admired for his dramatic lighting and became one of the first photographers to perfect the new colour techniques of the 1930s. A short film of him at work in the Vogue studios during the 1940s will be shown with an introduction to his peers including Lee Miller, Cecil Beaton and Irving Penn. The advent of colour enabled a fresh approach and Horst went on to create more than 90 Vogue covers and countless pages in vivid colour. A selection of 25 large colour photographs, newly printed from the original transparencies from the Condé Nast Archive, will demonstrate Horst’s exceptional skill as a colourist. These prints feature Horst’s favourite models from the 1940s and 50s, such as Carmen Dell’Orefice, Muriel Maxwell and Dorian Leigh, and will be shown together with preparatory sketches, which have never previously been exhibited.

In the early 1950s, Horst created a series of male nudes for an exhibition in Paris for which the models were carefully posed and dramatically lit to accentuate their musculature. The series evokes the classical sculpture that Horst so admired throughout his career. During the 1960s and 1970s, Horst photographed some of the world’s most beautiful and luxurious homes for House and Garden and Vogue under the editorship of his friend Diana Vreeland. A three-sided projection and interactive screens will present these colourful studies. Among the most memorable are the Art Deco apartment of Karl Lagerfeld, the three lavish dwellings of Yves Saint Laurent and the Roman palazzo of artist Cy Twombly.

In the latter years of Horst’s life, his early aesthetic experienced a renaissance. The period also witnessed a flurry of new books, exhibitions, and television documentaries celebrating his work. Horst produced new, lavish prints in platinum-palladium for museums and the collector’s market, selecting emblematic works from every decade of his career, which will be showcased as the finale to the exhibition.

Press release from the V&A

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Chanel, Vogue France' 1935

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Chanel, Vogue France
1935
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

 

A fore-runner of the timeless look of Chanel, here in brown and white check rayon with collar, cuffs and lapels in white piquè that matches the buttoned top.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Hat and coat-dress by Bergdorf Goodman, modelled by Estrella Boissevain' 1938

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Hat and coat-dress by Bergdorf Goodman, modelled by Estrella Boissevain
1938
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Corset by Detolle for Mainbocher' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Corset by Detolle for Mainbocher
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P.Horst. 'Lisa with Turban, New York' 1940

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lisa with Turban, New York
1940
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Gertrude Stein at Balmain Fashion Show' 1946

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Gertrude Stein at Balmain Fashion Show
1946
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Birthday Gloves, New York' 1947

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Birthday Gloves, New York
1947
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lillian Marcuson in Dior's belted two-piece suit in black rustic wool, called 'Milieu du Siècle'' 1949

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lillian Marcuson in Dior’s belted two-piece suit in black rustic wool, called ‘Milieu du Siècle’
1949
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Nina de Voe' 1951

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Nina de Voe
1951
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lillian Marcuson, New York' 1950

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lillian Marcuson, New York
1950
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Outfit by Tina Leser' Vogue, April 1950

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Outfit by Tina Leser
Vogue, April 1950
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P.Horst. 'Bombay Bathing Fashion' 1950

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Bombay Bathing Fashion
1950
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

 

Model (unidentified) and Dorian Leigh (r) in bathing suit and sleeveless shirt cover-up by Carolyn Schnurer 1951 Vogue

 

 

Haute Couture

When Horst joined Vogue in 1931, Paris was still the world’s undisputed centre of high fashion. Photography had begun to eclipse graphic illustration in fashion magazines and the publisher Condé Montrose Nast devoted large sums to improving the quality of image reproduction. He insisted that Vogue photographers work with a large format camera, which produced richly detailed negatives measuring ten by eight inches.

The creation of a Horst photograph was a collaborative process, involving the talents of the photographer and model, the art director, fashion editor, studio assistants and set technicians. The modelling profession was still in its infancy in the 1930s and many of those who posed under the hot studio lights were stylish friends of the magazine’s staff, often actresses or aristocrats.

By the mid 1930s, Horst had superseded his mentor George Hoyningen-Huene as Paris Vogue‘s primary photographer. His images frequently appeared in the French, British and American editions of the magazine. Many of the photographs on display in the exhibition are vintage prints from the company’s archive.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Dress by Hattie Carnegie' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Dress by Hattie Carnegie
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Dress by Hattie Carnegie' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Dress by Hattie Carnegie
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Summer Fashions, American Vogue cover' 1941

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Summer Fashions, American Vogue cover
1941
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Dinner suit and headdress by Schiaparelli' 1947

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Dinner suit and headdress by Schiaparelli
1947
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Millicent Rogers in a Charles James gown and a gold necklace of her own design' Vogue, February 1, 1949

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Millicent Rogers in a Charles James gown and a gold necklace of her own design
Vogue,
February 1, 1949
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst in Colour from Victoria and Albert Museum

 

This film reveals the process of creating new colour prints for the exhibition Horst: Photographer of Style. Horst was quick to master new colour processes, introduced in the late 1930s, and he created hundreds of vibrant fashion photographs for Vogue.

The V&A team worked closely with specialists at the Condé Nast Archive and expert printer Ken Allen to select and print from Horst’s early transparencies, which date from the 1930s to the 1950s. The film includes insights into Horst’s dynamic approach from model Carmen Dell’Orefice and Vogue‘s International Editor at Large, Hamish Bowles.​

 

Fashion in Colour

The 1930s ushered in huge technical advancements in colour photography. Horst adapted quickly to a new visual vocabulary, creating some of Vogue‘s most dazzling colour images. In 1935 he photographed the Russian Princess Nadejda Sherbatow in a red velveteen jacket for the first of his many Vogue cover pictures.

The occupation of Paris transformed the world of fashion. The majority of French ateliers closed and many couturiers and buyers left the country. Remaining businesses struggled with extreme shortages of cloth and other supplies. The scarcity of French fashions in America, however, enabled American designers to come into their own.

Horst’s colour photographs are rarely exhibited because few vintage prints exist. Colour capture took place on a transparency which could be reproduced on the magazine page without the need to create a photographic print. The size of the new prints displayed in this room of the exhibition echoes the large scale of a group of Horst images printed in 1938 at the Condé Nast press.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Marlene Dietrich, New York' 1942

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Marlene Dietrich, New York
1942
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Gloria Vanderbilt age 17 wearing a dress by Howard Greer, New York' 1941

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Gloria Vanderbilt age 17 wearing a dress by Howard Greer, New York
1941
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

At 17, in Beverly Hills wearing a tabletop dress by Howard Greer. Tabletop dresses looked good from the waist up when stars were photographed sitting in restaurants and nightclub

 

 

Stage and Screen

Horst’s portraits spanned a wide cross-section of subjects, from artists and writers to presidents and royalty. In the 1930s, he became aware of a new focus for his work. As he later noted in his book Salute to the Thirties (1971), glamorous Hollywood movie stars were imperceptibly assuming the place left vacant by Europe’s vanishing royal families. With the approach of the Second World War, the escapism offered by theatre and cinema gained in popularity. Horst began to photograph these new, classless celebrities, both in costume and as themselves.

The first well-known star Horst photographed was the English performer Gertrude Lawrence, then appearing in Ronald Jeans’ play Can the Leopard…? at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Horst’s first portrait of a Hollywood actress, Bette Davis, appeared in Vogue‘s sister magazine Vanity Fair in 1932.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Round the Clock, New York' 1987

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Round the Clock, New York
1987
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Platinum

The 1980s witnessed a flurry of new books, exhibitions and television documentaries about Horst. He produced new prints for museums and the collector’s market, selecting emblematic works from every decade of his career to be reprinted in platinum-palladium, sometimes with new titles. This was a complex and expensive technique, employing metals more expensive than gold. Failing eyesight finally forced him to stop working in 1992.

Horst’s platinum-palladium prints are treasured for their nuanced tones, surface quality and permanence. His style had experienced a renaissance in 1978 when Francine Crescent, French Vogue‘s editor in chief, had invited him to photograph the Paris collections. Horst’s work for her echoed his atmospheric, spot-lit studies of the 1930s. His use of the platinum process for creating new and reproducing early works ensured his mastery of light, mood and composition would be enjoyed by a new audience.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Male Nude #3' 1952, printed 1980s

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Male Nude #3
1952, printed 1980s
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Still Life' Nd

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Still Life
Nd
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Male Nude' 1952

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Male Nude
1952
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Male Nudes

In the early 1950s Horst produced a set of distinctive photographs unlike much of his previous output. These male figure studies were exhibited for the first time in Paris in 1953 and reprinted using the platinum-palladium process in the 1980s. The studies exemplify Horst’s sense of form. All emphasis is on the idealised human body, expressive light and shadow. Monumental and anonymous nudes resemble classical sculptures. As Mehemed Agha (1929-78), art director of American Vogue, commented:

“Horst takes the inert clay of human flesh and models it into the decorative shapes of his own devising. Every gesture of his models is planned, every line controlled and coordinated to the whole of the picture. Some gestures look natural and careless, because carefully rehearsed; the others, like Voltaire’s god, were invented by the artist because they did not exist.”

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Salvador Dali's costumes for Leonid Massine's ballet 'Bacchanale'' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Salvador Dali’s costumes for Leonid Massine’s ballet Bacchanale
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lisa Fonssagrives hands, New York' 1941

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lisa Fonssagrives hands, New York
1941
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Odalisque I' 1943

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Odalisque I
1943
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P.Horst. 'Bunny Hartley' Vogue, 1938

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Bunny Hartley
Vogue,
1938
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lisa Fonssagrives "I Love You"' 1937

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lisa Fonssagrives “I Love You”
1937
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Surrealism

The Surrealist art movement explored unique ways of interpreting the world, turning to dreams and the unconscious for inspiration. During the 1930s Surrealism escaped its radical avant-garde roots and transformed design, fashion, advertising, theatre and film. Horst’s photographs of this period feature mysterious, whimsical and surreal elements combined with his classical aesthetic. He created trompe l’oeil still life, photographed the surreal-infused dress designs of his friend Elsa Schiaparelli and collaborated with the artist Salvador Dalí. He shared with the Surrealists a fascination with the representation of the female body, often fragmenting and eroticising the human form in his images.

His most celebrated photograph of the era is Mainbocher Corset (1939). Decades after the photograph was made, Main Bocher himself expressed his admiration for Horst’s virtuosity, writing,

“Your photographs are sheer genius and delight my soul … each one is perfect by itself.”

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Patterns from Nature Photographic Collage' 1945

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Patterns from Nature Photographic Collage
1945
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Patterns from Nature

Horst’s second book, Patterns from Nature (1946), and the photographs from which it originated, are a surprising diversion from the high glamour of his fashion and celebrity photographs. These close-up, black and white images of plants, shells and minerals were taken in New York’s Botanical Gardens, in the forests of New England, in Mexico, and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

This personal project was partly inspired by photographs of plants by Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). Horst was struck by “their revelation of the similarity of vegetable forms to art forms like wrought iron and Gothic architecture.” Horst’s interest was also linked to the technical purity of ‘photographic seeing’, a philosophy associated with the New Objectivity movement of the 1920s and ’30s. Practitioners took natural forms out of their contexts and examined them with such close attention that they became unfamiliar and revelatory.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'View of ruins at the palace of Persepolis, Persia' 1949

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
View of ruins at the palace of Persepolis, Persia
1949
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Travel

In the summer of 1949, Horst journeyed to the Middle East with his partner Valentine Lawford, then political counsellor at the British Embassy in Tehran. They travelled by road from Beirut to Persepolis, where Horst was able to photograph parts of the ancient Persian city that had only recently been uncovered. Afterwards, Horst visited the newly established State of Israel on a photographic assignment for Vogue.

The trip left a strong impression on Horst and he returned in the spring of 1950. He spent a week with Lawford at the relatively remote south-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, before documenting the annual migration of the Qashqa’i clan. Horst and Lawford were invited by Malik Mansur Khan Qashqa’i to spend ten days with his tribe as they travelled by camel and horse, in search of vegetation for their flocks.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Yves Saint Laurent poses in the apartment's grand salon for a November 1971 'Vogue' photo spread' 1971

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Yves Saint Laurent poses in the apartment’s grand salon for a November 1971 ‘Vogue’ photo spread
1971
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Living in Style

In 1947 Horst acquired five acres of land in Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, part of the estate once owned by the designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. On the land he described as ‘everything I had ever dreamed of’, Horst built a unique house and landscaped garden. British diplomat Valentine Lawford visited for the first time in 1947, with Noël Coward, Christopher Isherwood, and Greta Garbo. It was the beginning of a relationship with Horst that would last until Lawford’s death in 1991.

They welcomed many friends and visitors to Long Island, including the dynamic editor Diana Vreeland. She left Harper’s Bazaar for Vogue in 1962 and soon put the couple to work on Vogue‘s ‘Fashions in Living’ pages. The homes and tastes of everyone from Jackie Onassis to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Andy Warhol and Karl Lagerfeld featured in their articles. Horst’s creative chemistry with Vreeland brought him a new lease of life.

 

Roy Stevens. 'Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives' 15 May 1941

 

Roy Stevens (American, b. 1916)
Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives
15 May 1941
© Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

 

 

In the Studio

During the 1940s Horst worked primarily in the Condé Nast studio on the 19th floor of the Graybar Building, an Art Deco skyscraper on Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue. The busy studio was well equipped with a variety of lights and props and Horst worked closely with talented art director Alexander Liberman. Like Horst, he had found refuge in the artistic circles of Paris and New York, and enjoyed a long career with Condé Nast.

By 1946 dressing the American woman had become one of the country’s largest industries, grossing over six billion dollars a year. The staff of Vogue expanded accordingly. In 1951 Horst found a studio of his own, the former penthouse apartment of artist Pavel Tchelitchew, with high ceilings and a spectacular view over the river. Horst developed a new approach to photography in response to the abundance of daylight and for a time his famous atmospheric shadows disappeared.

 

 

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Opening hours:
The V&A is open daily from 10.00 to 17.45 and until 22.00 on Fridays

Victoria and Albert Museum website

Horst web page

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09
Oct
14

Exhibition: ‘Sharp, Clear Pictures: Edward Steichen’s World War 1 and Condé Nast Years’ at The Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates: 24th June – 13th October 2014

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A. 'Bomb Dropped From Airplane' 1918

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A.
Bomb Dropped From Airplane
1918
Gelatin silver print, from loose-leaf album of aerial photographs from the Photographic Section, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, World War I
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of William Kistler
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

 

Brave man, hanging over the side of a rickety biplane at 15,000 feet taking aerial photographs during World War One but just look at the images he brought back, especially the hellish Untitled (Vaux) (1918-19, below). I’m still not that convinced by his portraiture. The technical proficiency is magnificent (lighting, set, costume) but they are just too styled for me – the cat in the top left corner of Noel Coward (1932, below), the bowler hat of Charles Chaplin (1931, below) and the double shadow of Fred Astaire in Funny Face (1927, below) coupled with bands of light/dark and tons of “atmosphere” (certainly not sharp and clear!) which echo the mannerisms of Pictorialism. I see little modernist aesthetics and advertising tactics in these photographs. They are beautiful but they leave me unengaged. I much prefer the advertising photography in the next posting, much more angular and modern. You will have to wait and see what it is!

Marcus

.
Many thankx to The Art Institute of Chicago for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A. 'In Chateau Thierry Sector showing service bridges destroyed by retreating enemy forces' September 7, 1918

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A.
In Chateau Thierry Sector showing service bridges destroyed by retreating enemy forces
September 7, 1918
Gelatin silver print, from loose-leaf album of aerial photographs from the Photographic Section, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, World War I
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of William Kistler
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A. 'In Chateau Thierry Sector showing service bridges destroyed by retreating enemy forces' (detail) September 7, 1918

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A.
In Chateau Thierry Sector showing service bridges destroyed by retreating enemy forces (detail)
September 7, 1918
Gelatin silver print, from loose-leaf album of aerial photographs from the Photographic Section, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, World War I
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of William Kistler
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A. 'Concrete landing platform for airplanes at Puxieux (each strip about 50 ft. wide by 250 ft long), crescent shape mass was formed by the pile of broken concrete when the platform was removed, altitude 15,000 ft.,' August 23, 1918

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A.
Concrete landing platform for airplanes at Puxieux (each strip about 50 ft. wide by 250 ft long), crescent shape mass was formed by the pile of broken concrete when the platform was removed, altitude 15,000 ft.,
August 23, 1918
Gelatin silver print, from loose-leaf album of aerial photographs from the Photographic Section, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, World War I
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of William Kistler
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A. 'Concrete landing platform for airplanes at Puxieux (each strip about 50 ft. wide by 250 ft long), crescent shape mass was formed by the pile of broken concrete when the platform was removed, altitude 15,000 ft.,' (detail) August 23, 1918

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A.
Concrete landing platform for airplanes at Puxieux (each strip about 50 ft. wide by 250 ft long), crescent shape mass was formed by the pile of broken concrete when the platform was removed, altitude 15,000 ft., (detail)
August 23, 1918
Gelatin silver print, from loose-leaf album of aerial photographs from the Photographic Section, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, World War I
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of William Kistler
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A. 'Untitled (Vaux)' 1918/19

 

Photographic Section, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and Major Edward J. Steichen, A.S.A.
Untitled (Vaux)
1918-19
Gelatin silver print, from loose-leaf album of aerial photographs from the Photographic Section, Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, World War I
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of William Kistler
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

 

At the start of World War I in 1914, Edward Steichen was a pioneering champion of art photography – catapulting to fame as a leading member of the Photo Secessionists and as cofounder of the trailblazing magazine Camera Work. Yet by the early 1920s, Steichen had rejected the soft focus, dreamy landscapes and portraits of his early years in favour of realist photographs made for informational purposes or popular consumption. This turning point was first marked by his role in World War I as chief of the Photographic Section of the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1919; and was fully realised in his subsequent work as lead photographer at Condé Nast publications from 1923 to 1937.

While on military duty, Steichen helped adapt aerial photography for intelligence purposes, implementing surveillance programs that had a lasting impact on modern warfare. He later reflected: “The wartime problem of making sharp, clear pictures from a vibrating, speeding airplane ten to twenty thousand feet in the air had brought me a new kind of technical interest in photography… Now I wanted to know all that could be expected from photography.” Steichen began to value photography’s capacity to transmit and encode information, and he soon proved his savvy as a collaborator and producer rather than a solitary auteur – new skills that enabled his subsequent groundbreaking career in magazines. Upon his return to New York in 1923, Steichen joined Condé Nast publications, creating iconic fashion photographs and celebrity portraits for Vogue and Vanity Fair. Over a period of nearly 15 years he created images that redefined the field through their clever use of modernist aesthetics and advertising tactics, becoming an influential impresario who promoted photography as a mass-media tool.

Focusing on rarely seen Steichen photographs drawn from the Art Institute’s collection, this exhibition includes a unique album of over 80 World War I aerial photographs assembled and annotated by Steichen himself as well as a group of iconic glamour portraits and fashion photographs done for Condé Nast, featuring notable figures such as Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, and Gloria Swanson.

Text from The Art Institute of Chicago website

 

Edward Steichen. 'Mary Duncan in "Lilly,"' 1931

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Mary Duncan in “Lilly”
1931
The Art Institute of Chicago, bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

 

Throughout his extensive career, famed photographer Edward Steichen (1879-1973) championed photography’s multiple roles – from his earliest efforts to promote American photography as an equal among the modern fine arts, to his groundbreaking work for the magazine industry. A new exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sharp, Clear Pictures: Edward Steichen’s World War I and Condé Nast Years, on view from June 28 – September 28, 2014, in Galleries 1-4, examines a crucial period in Steichen’s career, when he rejected the painterly Pictorialist aesthetic of his early years in favor of a straight, information-based approach. This turning point was first signalled by Steichen’s role in World War I, as chief of the Photographic Section of the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1919, and was fully realised in his work as lead photographer at Condé Nast Publications from 1923 to 1937.

Focusing on rarely seen Steichen photographs drawn from the Art Institute’s collection, this exhibition includes a unique album of over 80 World War I aerial photographs assembled and annotated by Steichen himself as well as a group of iconic glamour portraits and fashion photographs done for Condé Nast, featuring such early Hollywood royalty as Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson, as well as key historical figures like Winston Churchill.

Prior to WWI, Edward Steichen was a pioneering champion of art photography – he had a leading reputation in the Photo Secession movement in New York, and, along with his mentor Alfred  Stieglitz, had cofounded its trail-blazing fine-art journal Camera Work. Together, they opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, later 291, which first presented Picasso, Bråncusi, and a range of progressive photographers to the American public. In 1906, seeking a change, Steichen moved to Voulangis, France, with his family, where he immersed himself in European modern art. They remained there until the outbreak of the war in 1914, when, under the threat of advancing German troops, they fled home to the United States.

In July 1917, Steichen entered active duty with the goal of becoming “a photographic reporter, as Mathew Brady had been in the Civil War,” but he quickly abandoned this romantic notion to help implement the newest weapon of war – aerial photography. While on military duty, Steichen helped adapt aerial photography for intelligence purposes, implementing surveillance programs that had a lasting impact on modern warfare. He later reflected: “The wartime problem of making sharp, clear pictures from a vibrating, speeding airplane ten to twenty thousand feet in the air had brought me a new kind of technical interest in photography… Now I wanted to know all that could be expected from photography.” Steichen began to value photography’s capacity to transmit and encode information, and he soon proved his savvy as a collaborator and producer rather than a solitary auteur – new skills that enabled his subsequent groundbreaking career in magazines.

Following his military discharge in 1919, Steichen returned to Voulangis, where for a period of three years he created work that embraced clear focus, close cropping, and other techniques of modernist photography. Upon his return to New York in 1923, Steichen joined Condé Nast Publications, creating iconic fashion photographs and celebrity portraits for Vogue and Vanity Fair. In undertaking this challenging endeavour, the organisational and technical skills Steichen gained during his time in the military and in Voulangis proved invaluable.

Steichen championed the cultural and economic potential of celebrity, fashion, and advertising photography, creating images that became the foundation for contemporary magazine photography. Over a period of nearly 15 years he created images that redefined the field through their clever use of modernist aesthetics and advertising tactics, becoming an influential impresario who promoted photography as a mass-media tool.

Press release from The Art Institute of Chicago website

 

Edward Steichen. 'Self-Portrait with Brush and Palette' 1902

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Self-Portrait with Brush and Palette
1902
The Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Mary Pickford' 1924

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Mary Pickford
1924
The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Fred Astaire in Funny Face' 1927

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Fred Astaire in Funny Face
1927
The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Noel Coward' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Noel Coward
1932
The Art Institute of Chicago, bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Charles Chaplin' 1931

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Charles Chaplin
1931
The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Lily Pons' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Lily Pons
1932
The Art Institute of Chicago, bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Winston Churchill' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Winston Churchill
1932
The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Edward Steichen. 'Greta Garbo and John Gilbert' 1928

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Greta Garbo and John Gilbert
1928
The Art Institute of Chicago, bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

 

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Phone: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday, 10.30am – 5.00pm
Thursday, 10.30am – 8.00pm
Friday, 10.30am – 8.00pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10.00am – 5.00pm
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.

The Art Institute of Chicago website

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16
Feb
14

Review / Text: ‘Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th October 2013 – 2nd March 2014

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973) 'Model Dinarzade in a Dress by Poiret' 1924

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Model Dinarzade in a Dress by Poiret
1924
Gelatin silver photograph

Image used under fair use for the purpose of art criticism

 

 

This is a sublime exhibition, teaming with fabulous frocks and beautiful, classical, evanescent photographs. The exhibition was in my top nine magnificent Melbourne exhibitions that featured on Art Blart last year. Elegant, sophisticated and oozing quality, this exhibition has been a sure fire winner for the NGV. This review will concentrate on the photographs by Edward Steichen. See my previous posting on the exhibition including installation photographs.

 

High Society

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was a painter and champion of art photography who initially worked in the soft focus, Pictorialist style prevalent at the beginning of the 20th century. He was an artist who worked closely with Alfred Stieglitz on the influential quarterly art journal Camera Work, designing the cover and the Art Nouveau-style typeface especially for the internationally focused publication. Stieglitz, and by extension Camera Work, lived to promote photography as an art form and to challenge the norms of how art may be defined.1 In the early years Camera Work only published photography, but in later years the journal increasingly featured reproductions of and articles on modern painting, drawing and aesthetics.

“This change was brought about by a similar transformation at Stieglitz’s New York gallery, which had been known as the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession until 1908. That year he changed the name of the gallery to “291”, and he began showing avant-garde modern artists such as Auguste Rodin and Henri Matisse along with photographers. The positive responses he received at the gallery encouraged Stieglitz to broaden the scope of Camera Work as well, although he decided against any name change for the journal.”2

Steichen was heavily associated with Gallery 291 (291 Fifth Avenue, New York City) which ran from 1905 to 1917. The gallery exhibited European artists such as Braque, Picasso, Matisse, Brancussi, Cézanne and Rodin and soon to be famous American artists such as John MarinMax WeberArthur DoveMarsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe. Virtually no other gallery in the United States was showing modern art works with such abstract and dynamic content at this time.3 Both the gallery and the journal ran hand in hand; both closed in 1917. The journal closed due to a downturn in interest in Pictorial photography, a lack of subscribers, cultural changes and the economic effects of the First World War, which saw both the costs and even the availability of the paper on which it was printed become challenging.4 In the penultimate issue 48 (October 1916) Stieglitz,

” …introduced the work of a young photographer, Paul Strand, whose photographic vision was indicative of the aesthetic changes now at the heart of Camera Work’s demise. Strand shunned the soft focus and symbolic content of the Pictorialists and instead strived to create a new vision that found beauty in the clear lines and forms of ordinary objects. By publishing Strand’s work Stieglitz was hastening the end of the aesthetic vision he had championed for so long. Nine months later, in June 1917, what was to be the final issue of Camera Work appeared. It was devoted almost entirely to Strand’s photographs.”5

.
Edward Steichen felt the change in the air. When he accepted the job as chief photographer for Condé Nast publications in 1923 his early fashion photographs for Vogue and Vanity Fair were seen as innovative and ground breaking, even as his former art colleagues saw shooting fashion and celebrities was a way of selling-out. Steichen bought to fashion and portrait photography an aesthetic of clear lines and forms that simply had not been present before, coupled with a Pictorialist sensibility for light and the use of low depth of field. John McDonald in his excellent review of the exhibition observes, “Steichen has claims to having invented fashion photography with a series of pictures he took in Paris in 1911, for couturier, Paul Poiret; but the genre had found its first true professional in Baron Adolphe de Meyer, who left Vogue for Harper’s Bazaar, opening the door for Steichen’s appointment. De Meyer was an incurable mannerist who remained true to the Pictorialist aesthetic, but his successor would prove himself an innovator.”6

Steichen’s photographs from 1923-1924 are pared back, Modernist photographs that evidence the beginning of his later photographic style. Madame Nadine Vera wearing a crêpe evening gown by Chanel (1924) has a plain background of some wooden studio panels; Model Dinarzade in a Dress by Poiret (1924, above) has fabric hanging behind while Crêpe de chine dress by Lanvin (1924) has three doors casually put together to form the backdrop to the model. All three photographs show beautiful tonality and lighting in the full length capture of the models with hints of browns and yellows in the prints. The figure is isolated in the studio space simply and elegantly. The model is being studied. Steichen’s models are immersed in suffused light but the form of the photograph is different from that of Pictorialism, for the models themselves are pin sharp, as though stepping out into the world. These early photographs are fascinating to study, for they lay the ground work for what is to follow. These three images inform the viewer as to the experimentation that Steichen was undertaking to get to a starting point for the complex and atmospheric studio lighting that he would later employ.

Gradually, Steichen’s images become more confident and assured and take on a patina of beauty, style and grace. In his close-up portraits there is an isolation of the face against out of focus backgrounds with the use of profiles, arms and elbows as framing devices, for example Actress Sylvia Sidney (1929) and Actress Clara Bow (1928, above). In his longer-length portraits there is an isolation of figures against a white or black ground, as in Marion Morehouse in a dress by Louise Boulanger (1929) and Actresses Norma and Constance Talmadge (1927). Males usually have a heavy darkness to them while the females are more luminously lit. In the male portraits the hands dominate. The hands in the male photographs belong to the male as part of the portrait whereas in the early photographs of women they are only models, there at his command, and the hands are almost invisible. Only in the later photographs of high society women are the hands of females fully represented. What can be observed is that the figure is usually isolated against an out of focus background, with deep, dark shadows and soft luxurious light, low depth of field and feminine profiles.

In commercial terms (and we must remember that this is how the artist made his living for these photographs were seen as his commercial work at the time), Steichen’s photographs fulfilled his brief: the portrayal of shimmer and sparkle, geometric Art Deco style, the drama and theatrical lighting of the talkies, and the spectacle of the liberated modern women. She in turn was influenced by the prevalent cultural conditions: smoking, jazz, prohibition, automobiles, trains, dancing, fast living, gold (King Tuts tomb was discovered in 1922) and African and Japanese art. Appealing to the new leisure classes, publications such as Vogue and Vanity Fair offered a glimpse of a longed for paradise to the burgeoning middle-classes with their photographs of the rich and famous, the glamour and the costumes – the social groups that hold the most power actually exposing their own status on paper through these magazines.

As John McDonald notes, “Steichen uses every trick at his disposal to convey a particular kind of image,”7 an image that uses increasingly elaborate studio lighting and disparate indoor and outdoor locations. But by the early 1930s the work becomes quite formulaic with its use of low depth of field, profiles, angles of arms or chairs and geometric shapes. The figure is tightly controlled – either cropped close in or set amongst ambiguously filled sets and shaped backgrounds. There is a sameness and repetitiveness about the work as one image bleeds into another. In fact, after that early period of experimentation, there is basically no change to his mature style from the years 1925-1937 and this makes for a long twelve years for an artist of his talent. He found his mother load and he stuck to it.

Steichen’s photographs of the rich and famous are “pictures” taken by one who mingled with the elite, one who enjoyed the trappings of fame and high society. As Robert Nelson notes in his review of the exhibition, “Steichen’s talents were never incompatible with the conspicuous snobbery of his age, for which it would never have occurred to him to proffer an apology. Having arrived himself, he naturally admires gentry-by-ambition and crowns it with the smugness that it enjoys.”8 Ouch! Nelson goes on to observe, “Much of the work is statuesque and formidable in its composition, lighting and symbolic rigour,” while at the same time portraying a world that is completely artificial in which nothing is real and everything is a pose.9 And we, the viewer and reader, are voyeurs of this hedonistic world.

On close reading, the photographs flatten out into a studied set of stylistic manoeuvres, a form where style stands in for a quality of visual perception.10 As Steichen seeks to “clinch the image” the syntax of his photographs (the system of organisation used in putting lines together to form pictures) becomes imitative. This leads to evanescent photographs, images that soon pass out of sight, memory, or existence; images that slip for the mind as quickly as one sees them. There is little sense of dislocation in the images, only “in his ability to distance himself from a subject, analysing his or her foibles with a cool, practiced eye,”11 and in the distance of the scene from the reality of everyday life. Each photograph becomes a microcosm of vanity, celebrity and fashion. Steichen ticks all the boxes (and he made all the boxes that he ticked) but the photographs usually don’t fulfil any new demands that the situation generates. He restricts his field of view to one that he creates and controls within certain narrowly defined boundaries, usually using passive people who are at his command. In his orientation to the world the photographs are not ‘things as they are’ but things as they are constructed to be (seen) – a form of social capital, social fascism, even.12

Only when Steichen is challenged by an active “personality” does he raise his game. This is when the modernist, emotive, visually rhapsodic AND MEMORABLE photographs take hold in this exhibition. The great breakthrough with Greta Garbo (1929, below), mass of black with face surmounting, hair pulled back by hands “the woman came out full beauty on her magnificent face” Steichen said; Actress Gloria Swanson (1924, below) like some prowling, wide-eyed animal hidden behind a black lace veil, “a predatory femme fatale concealing her ambitions behind a mask of beauty”13; Marlene Dietrich (1934, below) nestled into the glorious curve of an armchair, lace-covered hand open, inviting; and Actress Loretta Young (1931) active, not passive, in which Steichen humanises his sitter. For me, these are the glorious images – not the men, not the fashion photographs, but these strong, independent women.

“An interested image-maker takes available resources for meaning (visual grammars, fabrication techniques and focal points of attention), undertakes an act of designing (the process of image-making), and in so doing re-images the world in a way that it has never quite been seen before.”14 Initially, in the early experimentation, this is what Steichen did; he achieves it again in the photographs of Garbo, Swanson, Dietrich and Young. As for the other photographs we feel an overall suffused glow of beauty and glamour – we admire their scale and intensity, the deep blacks and velvety whites, and wonder at the light and assemblage of elements – but they do not have the power and engagement of the best, most challenging work. In these photographs of vibrant women the viewer finally starts to feel the spirit of the face, the spirit of the person captured in an instant. And that is a rare and beautiful thing.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,883

 

Endnotes

  1. Whelan, Richard. Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography. NY: Little, Brown, 1995, pp. 189-223
  2. Anon. “Camera Work,” on Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 15/02/2014
  3. Anon. “291,” on Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 15/02/2014
  4. “Camera Work,” op. cit.,
  5. Hoffman, Katherine. Stieglitz : A Beginning Light. New Haven: Yale University Press Studio, 2004,  pp. 213–222 cited in “Camera Work,” op. cit.,
  6. McDonald, John. “Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion” on John McDonald website February 1, 2014 [Online] Cited 15/02/2014
  7. Ibid.,
  8. Nelson, Robert. “An age of elegance captured forever,” in The Age newspaper Wednesday November 6th, 2013, p. 54
  9. Ibid.,
  10. Rewording of a sentence by Sleigh, Tom. “Too Much of the Air: Tomas Tranströmer,” 2005, on the Poets.org website [Online] Cited 15/02/2014. No longer available online
  11. McDonald, op. cit.,
  12. “In sociology, social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasise different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea “that social networks have value”.”
    Anon. “Social capital,” on Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 15/02/2014
    “Social fascism was a theory supported by the Communist International (Comintern) during the early 1930s, which held that social democracy was a variant of fascism because, in addition to a shared corporatist economic model, it stood in the way of a complete and final transition to communism.”
    Anon. “Social fascism,” on Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 15/02/2014
  13. McDonald, op. cit.,
  14. Anon. “The Image of Transformation: Properties of Consequence,” on The Image website [Online] Cited 15/02/2014. No longer available online

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973) 'Actress Clara Bow for Vanity Fair' 1928

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Actress Clara Bow for Vanity Fair
1928
Vintage silver gelatin print
Block Museum, Gift of the Hollander Family in Honor of Morton and Mimi Schapiro
Steichen / Condé Nast Archive; © Condé Nast

Image used under fair use for the purpose of art criticism

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) Actress 'Gloria Swanson' 1924

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Actress Gloria Swanson
1924
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Steichen’s portrait of Gloria Swanson has taken on iconic masterpiece status overtime. Created in 1924, just as the first feature-length sound movies were emerging – effectively truncating the actress’s brilliant silent-film career – this image caught the essential Gloria Swanson: haunting and inscrutable, forever veiled in the whisper of a distant era. Steichen’s photograph has elements of turn-of-the-century pictorialism (moody and delicate, the subject seeming to peer from the darkness, as if from jungle foliage), yet it also projects modernist boldness, with its pin-sharp precision and graphic severity.

Text from Iconic Photos website [Online] Cited 11/02/2021

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Dancers Leonore Hughes and Maurice Mouvet' 1924

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Dancers Leonore Hughes and Maurice Mouvet
1924
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Maurice Mouvet was one of the most famous and successful dance teams around the early 1910’s and lead the way for many performers that would follow… Maurice was born in New York but as a young lad moved to Paris with his father and knew he wanted to be a dancer as a young boy. He had his first professional dance at the Noveau Cirque in Paris, France at age 15. Mouvet’s best partners were Florence Walton and Leonora (Leona) Hughes.

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Actress Paula Negri' 1925

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Actress Paula Negri
1925
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Pola Negri (née Apolonia Chałupiec, January 3, 1897 – 1 August 1987) was a Polish stage and film actress who achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles. She was the first European film star to be invited to Hollywood, and become one of the most popular actresses in American silent film. She also started several important women’s fashion trends that are still staples of the women’s fashion industry. Her varied career included work as an actress in theatre and vaudeville; as a singer and recording artist; as an author; and as a ballerina.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf' 1925

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf
1925
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Model wearing a black tulle headdress by Suzanne Talbot and a brocade coat with black fox collar' 1925

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Model wearing a black tulle headdress by Suzanne Talbot and a brocade coat with black fox collar
1925
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Actor Gary Cooper' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Actor Gary Cooper
1930
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Marion Morehouse and unidentified model wearing dresses by Vionnet' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Marion Morehouse and unidentified model wearing dresses by Vionnet
1930
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Marion Morehouse (1906-1969), was a fashion model who rose to prominence in the late 20s and early 30s, sitting for Vanity Fair and Vogue photographer Edward Steichen. The pair created some strikingly modernist photographs. According to Steichen Morehouse was:

“The greatest fashion model I ever photographed … When she put on the clothes that were to be photographed, she transformed herself into a woman who really would wear that gown … whatever the outfit was.”

She was also a favourite of Cecil Beaton and French Vogue’s Baron George Hoyningen-Huene. Morehouse was of Choctaw Indian ancestry, with brown eyes and an angular frame. After her modeling career ended, she took up photography herself. Later she became the third wife of author and painter E.E Cummings. When Cummings met Marion Morehouse in 1932, he was in the middle of a painful split from his second wife, Anne Barton. Although it is not clear whether the two were ever formally married, Morehouse lived with Cummings in a common-law marriage until his death in 1962. Morehouse died on May 18, 1969.

Text from the Photographs, film, literature & quotes from the bygone era website [Online] Cited 10/02/2014 no longer available online

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Olympic diver Katherine Rawls' 1931

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Olympic diver Katherine Rawls
1931
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Katherine Louise Rawls (June 14, 1917 – April 8, 1982) was a multiple United States national champion in swimming and diving in the 1930s.

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) Model 'Dorothy Smart wearing a black velvet hat by Madame Agnès' 1926

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Model Dorothy Smart wearing a black velvet hat by Madame Agnès
1926
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

France’s most popular milliner Madame Agnes was born in France in the late 1800’s, she retired in 1949, and died a short while later. She was famous for cutting the brims of her hats while they were worn by her customers. Madame Agnes styled hats which were both abstract and unique. An illustration from 1927 depicts Madame Agnes’ Congo inspired hats with a model wearing a slave collar. As the 20’s moved into the 30’s, the hats became smaller and away from the face. In December 1935 she introduced hats with large straw brims which were mounted on flowered madras handkerchiefs. Madame Agnes was inspired by a matador’s hat when she created a small dinner hat for Spring 1936. It was sewn of black maline with heavy white silk fringe. The fringe was mounted on each side of the hat’s top. In mid-1946 she created a soft beige beret of felt which featured a line that was broken just above the right eyebrow, where a soft quill was inserted.

Text from the Photographs, film, literature & quotes from the bygone era website [Online] Cited 10/02/2014 no longer available online

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'On George Baher's yacht' 1928

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
On George Baher’s yacht. June Cox wearing unidentified fashion; E. Vogt wearing fashion by Chanel and a hat by Reboux; Lee Miller wearing a dress by Mae and Hattie Green and a scarf by Chanel; Hanna-Lee Sherman wearing unidentified fashion
1928
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, Lady Penrose (April 23, 1907 – July 21, 1977) was an American photographer. Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1907, she was a successful fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became an established fashion and fine art photographer. During the Second World War, she became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Marlene Dietrich' 1934

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Marlene Dietrich
1934
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Greta Garbo' 1929

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Greta Garbo
1929
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) Actress 'Joan Crawford in a dress by Schiaparelli' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Actress Joan Crawford in a dress by Schiaparelli
1932
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was an Italian fashion designer. Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between the two World Wars. Starting with knitwear, Schiaparelli’s designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacometti. Her clients included the heiress Daisy Fellowes and actress Mae West.

Perhaps Schiaparelli’s most important legacy was in bringing to fashion the playfulness and sense of “anything goes” of the Dada and Surrealist movements. She loved to play with juxtapositions of colours, shapes and textures, and embraced the new technologies and materials of the time. With Charles Colcombet she experimented with acrylic, cellophane, a rayon jersey called “Jersela” and a rayon with metal threads called “Fildifer” – the first time synthetic materials were used in couture. Some of these innovations were not pursued further, like her 1934 “glass” cape made from Rhodophane, a transparent plastic related to cellophane. But there were more lasting innovations; Schiaparelli created wraparound dresses decades before Diane von Furstenberg and crumpled up rayon 50 years before Issey Miyake’s pleats and crinkles. In 1930 alone she created the first evening-dress with a jacket, and the first clothes with visible zippers. In fact fastenings were something of a speciality, from a jacket buttoned with silver tambourines to one with silk-covered carrots and cauliflowers. Schiaparelli did not adapt to the changes in fashion following World War II and her business closed in 1954.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'White (center Gwili André)' 1935

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
White (center Gwili André)
1935
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

Gwili Andre (4 February 1908 – 5 February 1959) was a Danish actress who had a brief career in Hollywood films. Andre came to Hollywood in the early 1930s with the intention of establishing herself as a film star. She appeared in the 1932 RKO Studio films Roar of the Dragon and Secrets of the French Police and began to attract attention for her striking good looks. These films provided her with starring roles playing against such established actors as Richard Dix, ZaSu Pitts and Frank Morgan, and RKO began using her glamorous looks to promote her.

A widespread publicity campaign ensured that her name and face became well known to the American public, but her next role in No Other Woman (1933), opposite Irene Dunne, was not the success the studio expected. Over the next few years she was relegated to supporting roles which included the Joan Crawford picture A Woman’s Face (1941). Her final role was a minor part in one of the popular Falcon series, The Falcon’s Brother in 1942.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Actress Mary Heberden' 1935

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Actress Mary Heberden
1935
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

American actress Mary Heberden made her first New York stage appearance in 1925 and performed regularly on Broadway in the 1930s.

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23) 'Charlie Chaplin' 1934

 

Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973, emigrated to United States 1881, worked in France 1906-23)
Charlie Chaplin
1934
Gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive
© 1924 Condé Nast Publications

 

 

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17
Oct
13

Exhibition: ‘Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th October 2013 – 2nd March 2014

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

You saw it here first on Art Blart!

What a gorgeous exhibition. It’s about time Melbourne had a bit of style put back into the National Gallery of Victoria, and this exhibition hits it out of the park. Not only are the photographs absolutely fabulous but the frocks are absolutely frocking as well. Well done to the NGV for teaming the photographs with the fashion and for a great install (makes a change to see 2D and 3D done so well together). Elegant, sophisticated and oozing quality, this is a sure fire winner…. Review of the photographs to follow.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the NGV for allowing me to take and publish the photographs. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. May be used freely if permission is sought and proper accreditation given.

 

 

Room 1

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

(L-R) Vogue March First 1926; Vogue November 15, 1925; and Vanity Fair June 1926
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The National Gallery of Victoria will showcase the glamour and modernity of the Art Deco period through the work of fashion’s most influential photographer, Edward Steichen, and stunning Art Deco fashion garments and accessories. The exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion is the first Australian survey of Steichen, widely considered to have created the first modern fashion photo. The exhibition features almost 200 of Steichen’s original vintage photographs, drawn from the vast archives of Condé Nast where he was chief photographer for their most prestigious magazines Vanity Fair and Vogue during the 1920s and 30s, alongside more than forty exquisite Art Deco fashion items from the NGV Collection and select private collections.

Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV, said that Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion is the first major Australian retrospective dedicated to Steichen’s iconic Condé Nast work.

“Steichen’s evocative images are regarded as among the most striking in early-to-mid-20th century photography and his fashion work in particular revolutionised the genre of fashion photography. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view such a large body of his work and to see up close the intricate details of outstanding Art Deco fashion items that highlight the interplay between fashion and photography,” said Mr Ellwood.

The exhibition presents Steichen’s pioneering modernist fashion photography and celebrity portraiture, produced during his fifteen year career as chief photographer for esteemed Condé Nast publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. During this period he put his exceptional talents and prodigious energy to work, creating a legacy of unequalled brilliance as he photographed the world of high fashion and stars of contemporary popular culture including Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, Katherine Hepburn, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper, Winston Churchill and George Gershwin. Steichen’s images transformed fashion photography and influenced generations of photographers, capturing the sophistication of the newly liberated ‘modern woman’ and encapsulating the chic beauty and avant-garde style of the Art Deco movement. Renowned as an innovator and master of lighting, his practice bridged the transition from photography’s early soft-focus, pictorialist style to clean, crisp modernism.

Echoing the aesthetics of Steichen’s photographs, this exhibition will also celebrate the fashion borne of the period with over forty exquisite Art Deco garments and accessories by leading designers of the day including Chanel, Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Paquin and Callot Soeurs. The elegance of old Hollywood glamour and high end fashion will be seen through a range of pieces – including swimsuits, coats, evening gowns, beach pyjamas, dresses, hats, bags and shoes, as well as an early example of Chanel’s little black dress. Art Deco style developed in response to changing lifestyles and ideals following the First World War. Typically characterised by sleek, geometric lines, rich colours and luxurious adornments, these new forms represented a shift away from traditional values; in fashion, hemlines rose and hairstyles became shorter, culminating in the infamous mid-twenties flapper style.

Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion also displays rare copies of Vogue and Vanity Fair that demonstrate the way Steichen’s photographs appeared on the magazine page. Two catalogues accompany the exhibition: Art Deco Fashion, a magazine-style volume that charts the development of the modern silhouette and highlights some of the leading designers of the period, and Edward Steichen: In High Fashion – The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937, a lavishly illustrated 288 page publication that focuses on Steichen’s legendary Vogue and Vanity Fair work.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Room Two

CALLOT SOUERS, Paris couture hours 1925 - 1937 Marie CALLOT GERBER designer France c. 1870 - 1927 'Dress' c.1925 silk, glass beads, metallic thread

 

Callot Souers, Paris
Couture house (1925-1937)
Marie Callot Gerber designer
France c. 1870-1927
Dress
c. 1925
Silk, glass beads, metallic thread

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours
Daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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23
Sep
10

Exhibition: ‘Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance & the Camera’ at Tate Modern, London

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 3rd October 2010

 

Many thankx to Rose Dahlsen and the Tate Modern for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Harry Callahan.
 'Untitled (Atlanta)' 1984

 

Harry Callahan (American, 1912-1999)
Untitled (Atlanta)
1984
Dye transfer print 
9 7/16 x 14 5/16 in. (23.97 x 36.35 cm)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© The Estate of Harry Callahan, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

 

Jonathan Olley. 'Golf Five Zero watchtower (known to the British Army as 'Borucki Sanger'), Crossmaglen Security Force Base, South Armagh' 1999

 

Jonathan Olley (British, b. 1967)
Golf Five Zero watchtower (known to the British Army as ‘Borucki Sanger’), Crossmaglen Security Force Base, South Armagh
1999
Gelatin silver bromide print
Coutesy Diemar/Noble Photography, London
© J.Olley

 

Benjamin Lowy (American, b. 1979) 'Iraq Perspective II' 2003-2007

 

Benjamin Lowy (American, b. 1979)
Iraq Perspective II
2003-2007

 

 

US soldiers go on a late night raid with Iraqi Sunni Concerned citizens leading the way and identifying potential AQi targets. Due to a high level of IEDs in the area the company size raiding party walked 5 kilometres to the target in complete darkness, raided the target houses, detained questionable suspects and walked 5 kilometres back to waiting humvees.

 

Sophie Calle (French, b. 1953) 'The Hotel, Room 47' (L'Hôtel, Chambre 47) 1981

 

Sophie Calle (French, b. 1953)
The Hotel, Room 47 (L’Hôtel, Chambre 47)
1981
2 works on paper, photographs and ink
2140 x 1420 mm
Tate
Presented by the Patrons of New Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1999

 

 

This is a two-part framed work comprising photographs and text. In the upper part, the title Room 47 is printed below a colour photograph of elegantly carved wooden twin head-boards behind a bed covered in rich brown satin. Below it, three columns of italic text are diary entries describing findings in the hotel room between Sunday 22 February 1981 and Tuesday 24. In the lower frame a grid of nine black and white photographs show things listed in the text above. This work is part of a project titled The Hotel, which the artist has defined:

“On Monday, February 16, 1981, I was hired as a temporary chambermaid for three weeks in a Venetian hotel. I was assigned twelve bedrooms on the fourth floor. In the course of my cleaning duties, I examined the personal belongings of the hotel guests and observed through details lives which remained unknown to me. On Friday, March 6, the job came to an end.” (Quoted in Calle, pp.140-1.)

Each of the twelve rooms gave rise to a diptych of similar structure following the occupancy of one or more guests during the period of the artist’s employment at the hotel. Some rooms feature more than once as a second set of guests occupied them, giving rise to a total of twenty-one diptychs in the series. Calle’s descriptions of the hotel rooms and their contents combine factual documentation along with her personal response to the people whose lives she glimpsed by examining their belongings. Each text begins with the chambermaid/artist’s first entry into the room and a notation of which bed or beds have been slept in, with a description of the nightwear the guests have left. A list of objects usually follows, as the artist transcribes her activities in the room. Calle is unashamedly voyeuristic, reading diaries, letters, postcards and notes written or kept by the unknown guests, rummaging in suitcases, and looking into wardrobes and drawers. She sprays herself with their perfume and cologne, makes herself up using the contents of a vanity case, eats food left behind and salvages a pair of women’s shoes left in the bin. Outside the room, she listens at doors, recording the occupants’ conversations or any other sounds she may overhear, and even peers into a room when the floor-waiter opens the door to catch a glimpse of the unknown guests.

The absent occupants described in Room 47 are a family of four – two parents and two children – as revealed by their four pairs of slippers. Calle does not go through their suitcase, commenting: ‘I am already bored’. From their passports she discovers that the parents are a married couple from Geneva and she copies out four postcards one of them has written. Words on one of these hint at problems within the family.

Calle began her artistic projects in 1979 on returning to Paris after seven years’ travel abroad. Disorientated, she felt like a stranger in her own city, not knowing how to occupy her time. She started to follow random passers-by and spend her days as they did. Eventually she picked up the camera she had been experimenting with during her time abroad and photographed the strangers, writing diaristic notes of their movements. From this she has developed a particular way of working, collecting information about people who are absent and investigating her subjects like a detective. The Hotel follows directly from a project the artist undertook the previous year entitled Suite Venetienne 1980, which evolved from a chance encounter with a man she had been following in Paris. He told her he was going to Venice, so she followed him there in disguise, documenting her observations. After a year of planning and waiting, she returned to Venice in 1981 as a chambermaid.

The Hotel diptychs were produced in an edition of four in English and four in French. Tate’s copy of Room 47 (22 February) is the first in the English edition. Another version of Room 47 exists for the period 2-6 March.

Elizabeth Manchester
June 2005

Text from the Tate website [Online] Cited 26/12/2019

 

Walker Evans. 'Subway Passengers, New York' 1938

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Subway Passengers, New York
1938
Gelatin silver print

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Austria, 1899-1968) '[Lovers at the Movies, Times Square]' c. 1953

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Austria, 1899-1968)
[Lovers at the Movies, Times Square]
c. 1953
Gelatin silver print
26.7 × 35.4 cm (10 1/2 × 13 15/16 in)
© International Center of Photography

 

 

Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. With photographs from the late nineteenth century to present day, the pictures present a shocking, illuminating and witty perspective on iconic and taboo subjects.

Beginning with the idea of the ‘unseen photographer’, Exposed presents 250 works by celebrated artists and photographers including Brassaï’s erotic Secret Paris of the 1930s images; Weegee’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe; and Nick Ut’s reportage image of children escaping napalm attacks in the Vietnam War. Sex and celebrity is an important part of the exhibition, presenting photographs of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Paris Hilton on her way to prison and the assassination of JFK. Other renowned photographers represented in the show include Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Lee Miller, Helmut Newton and Man Ray.

The UK is now the most surveyed country in the world. We have an obsession with voyeurism, privacy laws, freedom of media, and surveillance – images captured and relayed on camera phones, YouTube or reality TV.

Much of Exposed focuses on surveillance, including works by both amateur and press photographers, and images produced using automatic technology such as CCTV. The issues raised are particularly relevant in the current climate, with topical debates raging around the rights and desires of individuals, terrorism and the increasing availability and use of surveillance. Exposed confronts these issues and their implications head-on.

Text from the Tate Modern website [Online] Cited 21/09/2010 no longer available online

 

 

Kohei Yoshiyuki (Japan, b. 1946)
Untitled
1971
From the series The Park
Gelatin silver print

 

Kohei Yoshiyuki (Japan, b. 1946) 'Untitled' 1971

 

Kohei Yoshiyuki (Japan, b. 1946)
Untitled
1971
From the series The Park
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Ron Galella (American, b. 1931) 'What Makes Jackie Run? Central Park, New York City, October 4, 1971' 1971

 

Ron Galella (American, b. 1931)
What Makes Jackie Run? Central Park, New York City, October 4, 1971
1971
Gelatin silver print
7 3/8 in. x 9 7/8 in. (18.73 cm x 25.08 cm)
© Ron Galella

 

Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984) 'Couple Kissing, Girl Staring at Camera, Tortilla Factory, New York' 1969

 

Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984)
Couple Kissing, Girl Staring at Camera, Tortilla Factory, New York
1969
Gelatin silver print
© Garry Winogrand/Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Denis Beaubois. 'In the event of Amnesia the city will recall…' 1996-1997

 

Denis Beaubois
In the event of Amnesia the city will recall…
1996-1997
DVD
9 mins 30 secs
courtesy the artist

 

Denis Beaubois. 'In the event of Amnesia the city will recall…' 1996-1997

 

Denis Beaubois
In the event of Amnesia the city will recall…
1996-1997
DVD
9 mins 30 secs
courtesy the artist

 

Georges Dudognon
. 'Greta Garbo in the Club St. Germain, Paris' c. 1950s

 

Georges Dudognon (French, b. 1922)
Greta Garbo in the Club St. Germain, Paris
c. 1950s
Gelatin silver print
7 1/16  x 7 1/8 in. (17.94 x 18.1 cm)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Members of Foto Forum, 2005.200
© Estate of Georges Dudognon

 

Weegee (Arthur H. Fellig). '[Marilyn Monroe]' c. 1950s

 

Weegee (Arthur H. Fellig) (American, 1899-1968)
[Marilyn Monroe]
c. 1950s
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography, New York, Gift of Wilma Wilcox, 1993
© Weegee / International Center of Photography / Getty Images

 

Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, b. 1966) 'Stranger No. 1' 1998

 

Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, b. 1966)
Stranger No. 1
1998
Chromogenic print
50 x 42 1/2 in. (127 x 108 cm)
© Shizuka Yokomizo

 

 

Tate Modern
Bankside
London SE1 9TG
020 7887 8888

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 18.00

Tate Modern website

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11
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Hunted and Gathered: Photographs’ from the Private Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson at Modernism, San Franciso

Exhibition dates: July 9th – August 29th 2009

 

Many thankx to Modernism for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Anonymous. 'The Dancer, Ted Shawn, Boston Dance Theater' 1929

 

Anonymous photographer
The Dancer, Ted Shawn, Boston Dance Theater
1929
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 5/8 x 7 1/4″

 

Gérard Decaux. 'Abbe Lane' Rome, c. 1955

 

Gérard Decaux
Abbe Lane
Rome, c. 1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
10 1/4 x 8 1/2″

 

Clarence Sinclair Bull (American, 1896-1979) 'Greta Garbo' c. 1935

 

Clarence Sinclair Bull (American, 1896-1979)
Greta Garbo
c. 1935
Gelatin silver print, printed later
14 x 11″

 

 

Clarence Sinclair Bull was born in Sun River, Montana in 1896. His career began when Samuel Goldwyn hired him in the 1920 to photograph publicity stills of the MGM stars. He is most famous for his photographs of Greta Garbo taken during the years of 1926-1941. Bull’s first portrait of Garbo was a costume study for the Flesh and the Devil, in September 1926.

Bull was able to study with the great Western painter, Charles Marion Russell. He also served as an assistant cameraman in 1918. Bull was skilled in the areas of lighting, retouching, and printing. He was most commonly credited as “C.S. Bull.” Bull died on June 8, 1979 in Los Angeles, California, aged 83.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962) 'La Flamme (Woman's Head)' c. 1935

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
La Flamme (Woman’s Head)
c. 1935
Vintage gelatin silver print
6 3/8 x 4 3/8″

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Acrobats' c. 1920

 

Anonymous photographer
Acrobats
c. 1920
Vintage gelatin silver print
8 5/8 x 5 5/8″

 

Pierre Nobel. 'Still Life' c.1935

 

Pierre Nobel
Still Life
c. 1935
Vintage gelatin silver print mounted on paper
9 1/4 x 6 3/4″

 

Charles Jones. 'Plum, Laxton Early Red' c.1910

 

Charles Jones (English, 1866-1959)
Plum, Laxton Early Red
c. 1910
Vintage gelatin silver print from a glass plate negative
6 x 4 1/4″

 

 

Modernism presents a wonderful and intriguing selection of photographs from the private collection of Robert Flynn Johnson. Robert Flynn Johnson is emeritus faculty in the Printmaking department. He is the curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a position he has held since 1975.

This exhibition coincides with the publication of his second book on vernacular photography, The Face in the Lens: Anonymous Photographs (University of California Press).

“When I am asked what it takes to become an accomplished collector, it is not the qualities of knowledge, judgment or that elusive term “taste” that comes to mind. Instead, it is the ability to be curious that is the crucial element in the makeup of a true collector – the ability to ask questions, to learn, and to get answers regarding works of art that catch your eye and move your emotions,” Robert Flynn Johnson said.

He added, “For more than thirty-five years I have followed my curiosity in passionately seeking out photographs that have stirred my imagination. Some of them have been by great artistic masters of the medium, while others have been anonymous photographic orphans that have nothing going for them but the image itself. Both types of photographs are included in this exhibition.”

“I have made a varied, and some may say eccentric, selection of images. From a heart-stopping snapshot of acrobats posed in a three-man handstand perched on the ledge of the 108th floor of the Empire State building, to a tender portrait of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio that captures the instant before their lips meet in their first kiss as a married couple, They these pictures are a true reflection of my collecting philosophy that is attracted to profound, beautiful, humorous, and absurd aspects of life and art.”

“Nevertheless, I hope they these works convey some of the visual surprise and delight to you that I felt when I first saw each and every one of them.”

Oscar Wilde once said that the only person that liked all art equally was an auctioneer! I do not expect viewers to appreciate all the photographs in this exhibition, but through my visual curiosity in collecting them over time, I did, and that is why they are here together today.

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

Anonymous photogapher (Czechoslovakia). 'Train' c.1930

 

Anonymous photographer (Czechoslovakia)
Train
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 11 5/8″

 

Anonymous photographer (United Kingdom). 'Train' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer (United Kingdom)
Train
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 11 1/2″

 

Sasha. 'Archer Leaping Through the Air' c.1930

 

Sasha
Archer Leaping Through the Air
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
7 3/8 x 9 3/8″

 

Leopold Hugo. 'Craters of the Moon, Idaho' 1920

 

Leopold Hugo (American, born Poland 1866-1933)
Craters of the Moon, Idaho
1920
Tinted vintage gelatin silver print
7 3/8 x 9 3/8″

 

Anonymous. 'Acrobat Piroska at the Latin Quarter (Published in Life Magazine)' c.1945

 

Anonymous photographer
Acrobat Piroska at the Latin Quarter (Published in ‘Life Magazine’)
c. 1945
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 5/8 x 9″

 

 

Modernism
685 Market St., Suite 290
San Francisco, CA 94105

Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5:30pm

Modernism website

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07
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Cecil Beaton: Portraits’ at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Exhibition dates: 26th June – 31st August 2009

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Greta Garbo, Plaza Hotel, New York, April 1946' 1946

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Greta Garbo, Plaza Hotel, New York, April 1946
1946
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

 

Until you are reminded by the photographs you sometimes forget what a fantastic auteur Cecil Beaton was.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Walker Art Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Greta Garbo, Plaza Hotel, New York, April 1946' 1946

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Greta Garbo, Plaza Hotel, New York, April 1946
1946
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Greta Garbo' 1946

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Greta Garbo
1946
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Audrey Hepburn' 1960

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Audrey Hepburn
1960
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Barbara Hutton in Tangier, Morocco' 1961

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Barbara Hutton in Tangier, Morocco
1961
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Charles James Gowns by Cecil Beaton, Vogue, June 1948' 1948

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Charles James Gowns by Cecil Beaton, Vogue, June 1948
1948
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

 

A stunning exhibition of nearly 50 portraits by Cecil Beaton, one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century, captures the glamour and excitement of some of the world’s greatest celebrities.

Cecil Beaton: Portraits 26 June – 31 August 2009 brilliantly reflects the astonishing talents of the photographer who was also a writer, artist, designer, actor, caricaturist, illustrator and diarist.

He photographed a dazzling array of superstars and leading personalities ranging from the Queen to Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn and Winston Churchill to Lucian Freud.

Beaton (1904-1980) was himself a charismatic character who could charm and cajole, amuse and flirt, electrify and calm. He was known for his elegant sartorial style which exactly matched and reflected the circles he moved in.
His long career covered an era of great change from the Roaring Twenties to the dawn of the New Romantics.

Jessica Feather, Walker curator, says:

“Cecil Beaton had a remarkable gift of bringing out the personalities and flair of his sitters so that he created some of the great iconic images of the age. The portraits still cast a spell with their timeless appeal, giving deep insights into the extraordinary people who came before his camera.”

Beaton’s career as a photographer began with his earliest portraits of his sister Baba taken in 1922, when he was a teenager.

After Cambridge, his early photographs were published in society magazines The Sketch, Tatler and Eve from 1925 onwards. In 1927, 23-year-old Beaton secured a contract with Vogue to provide portraits, caricatures and social commentary. His career – with the exception of two short breaks – continued with Vogue for the rest of his life.

In the 1930s he published books packed with glamorous portraits and artwork and photographed the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Wallis Simpson. Beaton also took a striking series of romantic studies of Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother).

His work took on a grittier aspect during the war and post-war years when he worked for the Ministry of Information and as an official war photographer.

Beaton reached the height of his powers in the 1950s and 60s when he became a household name. As well as creating great portraits of a new generation of film actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, he won Oscars for his design work in the blockbuster films Gigi and My Fair Lady.

Knighted in 1972, Beaton had a stroke in 1974 but returned to photography three years later. Among his subjects in his final years were fashion designers and international celebrities.

Press release from the Walker Art Gallery website [Online] Cited 05/08/2009 no longer available online

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Francis Bacon' 1951

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Francis Bacon
1951
Bromide print on white card mount
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Marilyn Monroe, New York, February 22, 1956' 1956

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Marilyn Monroe, New York, February 22, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Maria Callas' 1957

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Maria Callas
1957
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Kyra Nijinsky' 1935

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Kyra Nijinsky
1935
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

 

Kyra Vaslavovna Nijinsky (19 June 1913 – 1 September 1998), was a ballet dancer of Polish and Hungarian ancestry, with a Russian dance and cultural heritage. She was the daughter of Vaslav Nijinsky and the niece of Bronislava Nijinska. In the 1930s she appeared in ballets mounted by Ida Rubinstein, Max Reinhardt, Marie Rambert, Frederick Ashton, Antony Tudor.

Her father Vaslav (1889-1950) was a truly world-famous dancer with Ballets Russes in Paris. Her aunt Bronia (1891-1972) also excelled in dance and was a leading choreographer, initially with Ballets Russes. Her mother Romola de Pulszky was a socialite and author. Romola’s mother, Kyra’s grandmother, was Emilia Márkus, a popular Hungarian actress. …

“We also met Nijinsky’s daughter, Kyra, who is fascinating. Sturdily built and full of exuberance, she has the most engaging smile and what must be her father’s eyes, of an unusual grey-green, or is it green-brown? She is an artist and uses bright colours. Her father is a frequent subject, but I noticed all her paintings show him in ballet roles, never as himself. When she was describing a Russian dance she made a momentary gesture of her right arm across her brow, and I could see Nijinsky exactly. There was something in her movement and her face that expressed all there is to say about dancing in that one instant, and I can never forget it.”

Dame Margot Fonteyn on meeting Kyra in San Franciso in 1951

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Cecil Beaton, 'Marilyn Monroe' 1956

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Marilyn Monroe
1956
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton. 'Mick Jagger, Marrakesh' 1967

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Mick Jagger, Marrakesh
1967
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

 

This major retrospective exhibition brings together captivating images from Cecil Beaton, one of the most celebrated photographers of the 20th century. Renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style, Beaton’s work has inspired many famous photographers including David Bailey and Mario Testino.

The exhibition reflects the astonishing talents of the photographer who was also a writer, artist, designer, actor, caricaturist, illustrator and diarist. There are four sections in the exhibition covering Beaton’s career and capturing 50 years of fashion, art and celebrity:

 

The Early Years: London to Hollywood, 1920s and 1930s

Photographs of Hollywood stars such as Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire and artists including John (Rex) Whistler, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

 

The Years Between: The War and Post-War Arts, 1940s

Featuring Greta Garbo, Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier as well as Princess Elizabeth and Sir Winston Churchill.

 

The Strenuous Years: Picturing the Arts, 1950s

Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, Francis Bacon, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Lucian Freud and Marilyn Monroe.

 

Partying and the Partying Years: Apotheosis and Retrospection, 1960s and 1970s

Includes images of Audrey Hepburn, Prince Charles, Harold Pinter, Katherine Hepburn, Mick Jagger, Barbara Streisand
and Elizabeth Taylor.”

Text from the Walker Art Gallery website [Online] Cited 23/03/2019

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Miss Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star' 1928

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Miss Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star
1928
Gelatin silver print
49 x 38.8 cm
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Fred and Adele Astaire at a piano' 1930

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Fred and Adele Astaire at a piano
1930
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Gary Cooper' 1931

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Gary Cooper
1931
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Gwili Andre' 1932

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Gwili Andre
1932
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Gwili Andre (born Gurli Andresen, 4 February 1908 – 5 February 1959) was a Danish model and actress who had a brief career in Hollywood films.

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Salvador Dali and Gala' 1936

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Salvador Dali and Gala
1936
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Cecil Day-Lewis' 1942

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Cecil Day-Lewis
1942
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

 

Cecil Day-Lewis (or Day LewisCBE (27 April 1904 – 22 May 1972), often writing as C. Day-Lewis, was an Anglo-Irish poet and the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972. He also wrote mystery stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake.

During World War II, Day-Lewis worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information for the UK government, and also served in the Musbury branch of the British Home Guard. He is the father of Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, a noted actor, and Tamasin Day-Lewis, a documentary filmmaker and television chef.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Orson Welles resting on a sculpture' 1942

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Orson Welles resting on a sculpture
1942
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980) 'Marlon Brando' 1954

 

Cecil Beaton (British, (1904-1980)
Marlon Brando
1954
Gelatin silver print
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

 

 

Walker Art Gallery
William Brown Street
Liverpool L3 8EL

Opening hours:
Open 10am – 5pm daily

Walker Art Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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