Posts Tagged ‘the female body

15
May
21

Exhibition: ‘Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency’ at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago

Exhibition dates: 19th January – 23rd May, 2021

Artists: Laia Abril, Candice Breitz, Elinor Carucci, Krista Franklin, Doreen Garner Candy Guinea, Joanne Leonard, Carmen Winant

 

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986) 'Poison, Pesticide & Desperation / A deadly solution for many women' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Poison, Pesticide & Desperation
A deadly solution for many women

Nd
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

Toxic religion

This is a harrowing exhibition. In reality, in the 21st century, it shouldn’t be, for the problems that it investigates – the psychological, physical, and emotional realities people encounter in the years leading up to, during, and after fertility; the lack of open acknowledgement of pleasure, the lack of access to abortion, and trauma – should no longer exist. Women’s bodies are not vehicles for reproduction as seen through a patriarchal, capitalist lens.

Basically it comes down to two things: men and religion.

Men dominate religious doctrine and government. Religion and governments decide whether abortion is legal or illegal (Poland), whether women are sentenced to years in jail for abortion (El Salvador) or whether a women is handcuffed to a hospital bed after trying to give herself an abortion (Brazil). In religious countries untold harm is being done to women in the name of Christ the saviour. What a joker our imaginary friend is. Never will women be seen as equal in the eyes of God for the dogma of teaching denies their humanity. No compassion, no equality, no freedom.

The standout works in this exhibition are the devastating photo-stories of Laia Abril from On Abortion, the first part of her new long-term project, A History of Misogyny; and the surrealist collages of Joanne Leonard taken from Journal of a Miscarriage (1973). I have transcribed the text under Abril’s photographs so you can read the horror which is propagated and reproduced in the name of religion. Dark ages indeed.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation views of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing Laia Abril’s photographs. Top left: The Oral Solution; top right: Deadly Grapevine; bottom left: A Night Outside; bottom second left: Poison, Pesticide & Desperation; bottom third left: Coat Hanger

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986) 'Ancient Herbs and Oral Solutions, depicting herbs used in El Salvador to induce abortion' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
The Oral Solution
Ancient Herbs and Oral Solutions, depicting herbs used in El Salvador to induce abortion

Nd
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986) 'Coat Hanger' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Coat Hanger
Nd
From History of Misogyny
© Laia Abril

 

 

Laia Abril

“I’m trying to visualise a history of misogyny so we don’t forget what’s in the past and don’t get too comfortable in the present; so we take a look at things that sometimes we don’t want to – in a visual way that doesn’t make you just turn the page but makes you engage somehow and think a little bit.”

Under ‘natural’ circumstances, the average woman would get pregnant about 15 times in her life, resulting in ten births. Seven of those babies would survive childhood. For centuries, people have searched for ways to delay or terminate pregnancy. Today, safe and efficient means of abortion finally exist, yet women around the world continue to use ancient, illegal or risky home methods: Every year, 47,000 women die from botched abortions.

Across many countries and religions, millions of women are still denied access to abortion by the law or by social coercion. They are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will, even minors and rape victims, and for many the pregnancy is not viable or poses a health risk. But all can be criminalised for trying to abort.

On Abortion is the first part of Laia Abril’s new long-term project, A History of Misogyny. The work was first exhibited at Les Rencontres in Arles in 2016 and awarded the Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro and the Fotopress Grant. Abril documents and conceptualises the dangers and damage caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion. She draws on the past to highlight the long, continuing erosion of women’s reproductive rights through to the present-day, weaving together questions of ethics and morality, to reveal a staggering series of social triggers, stigmas, and taboos around abortion that have been largely invisible until now.

Laia Abril is a visual artist, photographer and bookmaker from Barcelona. After graduating in Journalism, she enrolled at FABRICA – the Benetton artist residency; where she worked at COLORS Magazine as a creative editor and staff photographer for 5 years. Her projects have been shown throughout Europe, in the United States, and in China and have been published in media worldwide. Her work is held in many private and public collections. Her first book with Dewi Lewis Publishing, the critically acclaimed The Epilogue (2014), was shortlisted for the Paris Photo-Aperture First Book Award, Kassel PhotoBook Festival and the Photo España Best Book Award.

Text from the Dewi Lewis Publishing website [Online] Cited 14/04/2021

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing Laia Abril’s photographs. Top left: Sentenced to Decades; bottom left: The latrine where Manuela had her miscarriage; right: Manuela in El Salvador.

 

Laia Abril. 'Sentenced to Decades' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Sentenced to Decades
Las 17’s court records in the headquarters of the Citizens’ Coalition for the Decriminalization of Abortion

Nd
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

El Salvador and ‘Las 17’

“Last month in El Salvador, a young woman walked free after nearly a decade behind bars. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana was just 18 when, in 2008, she was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Her crime? Having a miscarriage.
El Salvador has one of the world’s most draconian abortion statutes. It criminalises abortion on all grounds, including when the mother’s life or health is in danger, and in cases of rape. Women and girls cannot access an abortion even if continuing their pregnancy will kill them, or if their fetuses are not viable.
Those who defy the law and seek unsafe, clandestine abortions face horrifying consequences: The World Health Organization in 2008 reported that 9 percent of maternal deaths in Central America are due to such procedures.”
Erika Guevara-Rosas. “El Salvador and ‘Las 17’,” on the Amnesty International website 3rd March 2015 [Online] Cited 12/05/2021

 

Laia Abril. 'The latrine where Manuela had her miscarriage' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Manuela in El Salvador
The latrine where Manuela had her miscarriage

Nd
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

In February 2008, Manuela – an eight-months-pregnant, 33-year-old mother of two – suffered a miscarriage in the outdoor toilet of her home in a rural area of El Salvador. After losing, and then regaining, consciousness, Manuela (not her real name) managed to make it back to her house and ask her parents for help. When she got to the hospital, she was handcuffed to the bed for a week. Authorities suspected that Manuela’s miscarriage was actually “an abortion to hide her infidelity”; her husband had left her seven years prior, and she did not have the financial means to divorce him. During a trial that took place later that year, Manuela’s mother was accused of being an accomplice. Law-enforcement officials also took statements from Manuela’s illiterate father, who ended up signing documents that implicated his daughter. Manuela was condemned to 30 years in prison. Following her death behind bars two years later, in 2010, her family learned that her miscarriage had been the result of undiagnosed lymphatic cancer.

Text under the photograph

 

Laia Abril. 'Guadalupe, 26, El Salvador' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Guadalupe, 26, El Salvador
Guadalupe, one of the Las 17, was released from prison in February 2015. She had served seven years and three months in prison after a miscarriage resulting from a rape and subsequent pregnancy.

Nd
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

I was raped when I was 17, and became pregnant. I was sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide, after losing my baby during an obstetric emergency while working at my employer’s house. My employer would not allow me to go home, and I passed out. I was in my third trimester. I wanted my baby – I don’t know what happened to her. They never returned her body to my family. I served seven years and seven months before I was pardoned. The day I was released was very joyful. It had been a long fight, but my lawyers and family never stopped visiting me. I have a newborn baby daughter and I’m thrilled to be a mum.

Text under the photograph

 

Abortion has been illegal in El Salvador since 1998. This is the case in any and all circumstances, including when the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the mother. The extremely conservative politics of the country are due in part to the Roman Catholic Church, which exerts an outsized influence on Salvadoran politics and spearheaded a campaign in the 1990s that led to some of the most draconian laws against reproductive rights in the world.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing Laia Abril’s photographs.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Neil, 33, Ireland (installation view)
Nd
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

(Main photograph)

In 2010, my wife Michelle and I found out we were pregnant. She was over the moon, although I was worries and realistic – she had been fighting cancer since 2001 and was terminal. Unfortunately, her chemotherapy treatment had probably damaged the foetus, before we even knew there was one. Michelle was also unlikely to survive a pregnancy. Her oncologist prescribed an abortion. Michelle did not want to, but we had no other option. To our surprise, Cork University Hospital refused to do it.

(Right top)

The hospital told us that Michelle’s life was not at immediate risk [the only circumstance in which abortion is legal in Ireland]. Her doctor helped us to coordinate a trip to England, where the law is more flexible. Michelle was English, but she had no passport – she had not planned to travel! Waiting for the paperwork took two months, during which she was also denied treatment for her cancer [due to the pregnancy]. The trip itself was a nightmare, she was so sick and heartbroken. We had planned a medical abortion, but the pills didn’t work. In the end, she underwent a surgical procedure, which took a big toll on her health.

(Right bottom)

Michelle became quite active in the media, speaking out against the state. The [Irish government] ended up paying her compensation for the injustice. Before her pregnancy, Michelle had been responding very well to her treatment, and doctors said she could end up living for five more years. She was a very spiritual and optimistic person. But after we cam back from England, she took another scan. Her cancer had become more aggressive and spread to her brain. She died in November 2011.

Text under the three photographs above

 

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986) 'Magdalena, 32, Poland' 2018

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Magdalena, 32, Poland
2018
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation views of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing Laia Abril’s photographs Magdalena, 32, Poland (2018)

 

 

(Main photograph)

It was December 17, 2014. I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. I am gay – I don’t want to talk about how I got pregnant. I don’t know for sure if my grief for the abortion is over, if I left it all behind. I think about it once in a while, and sometimes I cry. Not much, though, and not because I regret it. I don’t. I know I made the right choice, and the only possible one. It was the hardest experience in my life. I am a different person now. And I’m proud of myself.

(Top left)

On a Thursday, I went to see my gynaecologist. She’s a feminist, known for openly pre-choice views. She directed me to a trusted male gynaecologist, who performs ultrasound examinations. She he confirmed the pregnancy, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I am a feminist activist, and I was familiar with the obstacles to abortion in Poland: abortion is illegal except in cases of sexual assault, serious metal deformation, or threat to the mother’s life. I talked to the ultrasound doctor openly. He hesitated at first.

(Top middle)

There is a medicine called Arthrotec: it’s a combination of the drugs Diclofenac and Minoprostol, which are used to treat cateoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. You can buy it in the pharmacy with a prescription, and use it to induce miscarriage. Another alternative is to buy abortion pills on the black market, but I don’t trust them – many vendors fake abortion pills that cost a lot and do nothing. So I contacted a colleague who’s a stomatologist and lied that mom need Arthrotec due to back problems. I was lucky. On Sunday, I had the prescription.

(Top right)

On the evening of December 22, 2014, I stayed at my friend Tomo’s. I took my first pull around 10 pm in her kitchen. You take Arthritic in three phases – four pills every three hours, three times. It’s extremely unpleasant. You can’t simply swallow the ill. You have to hold it under your tongue until it melts, then spit out the small part of analgesic Diclofenac. The pills are bitter and your moth gets numb. It rook almost one hour for the first four pills. The bleeding really started two and half hours after the first set.

(Middle left)

I felt cold and freezing. Timo cooked some potatoes and beetroots for me. Also sauerkraut – I remember I had a great craving for that. I needed someone to take care of me, and anyway it’s recommended as a presentation in case of extended bleeding or other problems. It was hard for me to pick a person, but Timo asked no questions, and gave me her full support from the beginning to the very end of this experience.

(Middle centre)

After the pills, I took several showers, and changed my sanitary napkins ofter. We watched Stardust with Claire Dens and Robert De Niro. They always sooth me. i mostly slept thorough the next day and night. But the bleeding didn’t stop. I became a bit worried, so I phone my doctor. It seems I hadn’t fully purged, he said, and advised that I take another set to pills. He also prescribed antibiotics. The second time was a horror. I was literally giving birth. I was exhausted, but even after that, clots of blood remained in my uterus. A procedure called “curettage” would be need to get rid of them.

(Middle right)

I checked into my doctor’s hospital on December 31. He told me exactly what to say: “I’m pregnant. Recently some bleeding has begun. I hope everything is fine, please just check on me.” My doctor and I pretended we didn’t know each other, so other hospital staff wouldn’t get suspicious. The plan was to state that the foetus was dead, which would me the curettage legally. My doctor winked when I was supposed to say “yes” or “no” to the procedure. It was absurd and humiliating at the same time. The curettage was scheduled for the first day of the New Year. Honestly, I didn’t care.

(Bottom left)

The next morning I had the curettage, First anaesthesia in my life. I was numb enough not to feel much fear. I stayed in the hospital until late evening. Another chat with my doctor. I thanked him a lot. I don’t know what would have happened to me if he hadn’t guided, me, advised me. answered my phone calls, then worked out a safe and legal hospital scenario. A lot of things might have happened, but I was lucky. I physically recovered quickly.

(Bottom middle)

But I was traumatised. I remember lying in bed two days before I took pills, with my hand on my belly, thinking that it would nice to able to keep that pregnancy. I cried so much the day I took the pills and told Timo how much I did and did not want to do it at the same time. How much irrational sadness I felt, even though I didn’t want to have a kid, not then, and probably not ever. It was hormones. But it was also something more than that; you can’t really talk about it unless you’ve had the experience yourself. I grieved some time after.

(Bottom right)

Later, I created a private group on Facebook so that women could help each other. exchange addresses and phone number of trusted doctors, and give each other advice. Sometimes a woman contacts me and I give her all the info and contact I have. I feel like that’s the least I can do. I still have a few mementos related to my abortion, including an ultrasound photo of the foetus. Sometime I want to throw it away. But I never do.

Text under the photographs

 

Laia Abril. 'Magdalena, 32, Poland' 2018 from the book 'On Abortion'

 

Magdalena, 32, Poland 2018 from the book On Abortion by Laia Abril

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation views of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing Laia Abril’s photographs Marta, 29, Poland (Nd)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation views of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing Laia Abril’s photographs. At centre bottom, An FBI warrant for James Kopp (Nd); at right top, Prisoner #14681: Dr. Fenner (Nd); right middle, Midwife’s Mugshot (Nd); right bottom, Prisoner #5603 Dr. William H. Johnson

 

 

Prisoner #14681: Dr. Fenner

In 1941, Dr. Fenner was charged with feticide and sentenced to 16 months of hard labor in Nebraska. The doctor denied that he had performed the alleged abortion but admitted that he had performed ‘curettage” on a female patient. He claimed that his patient would have died due to inflammation otherwise.

Midwife’s Mugshot

Brazilian midwife Maria Berlimont practiced medicine without a licence and was accused of providing abortions illegally. “Dessie [current] public condemnation of both women and providers, law enforcement more often goes after the abortion provider. Police action and the media reports focus on illegal clinics while remaining silent on the women who seek out illegal abortion services.”

Prisoner #5603: Dr. William H. Johnson

In May 1910, doctor William H. Johnson of Nebraska was found guilt of having performed an illegal abortion resulting in the death of sixteen-year-old Amanda mueller. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor. Johnson was paroled on April 14, 1911, pardoned by the governor, and discharged on April 25.

 

Laia Abril. 'An FBI warrant for James Kopp, a member of The Lambs of Christ, who killed a doctor who worked at an New York abortion clinic in 1998' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
An FBI warrant for James Kopp, a member of The Lambs of Christ, who killed a doctor who worked at an New York abortion clinic in 1998
Nd
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing at right, Laia Abril’s Telephone – Voice mail, Florida Abortion Clinic (Nd)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing at right, Laia Abril’s Hippocratic Betrayal and Obstetric Violence

 

Laia Abril. 'Hippocratic Betrayal and Obstetric Violence' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Hippocratic Betrayal and Obstetric Violence
Nd
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

Hippocratic Betrayal and Obstetric Violence, by Laia Abril, referring to the case of a woman in Brazil who was handcuffed to her hospital bed after trying to give herself an abortion

This time, the found material and loaded objects – from an operating chair to a tangled heap of coathangers – make the testimonies all the more stark. One of the most resonant images is a staged photograph of a pair of handcuffs hanging from the rail of a hospital bed. It is titled Hippocratic Betrayal and refers to the case of a 19-year-old woman from São Paulo, who was taken to hospital with severe abdominal pains after ingesting abortion pills. After treating her, the doctor called the police, saying he would autopsy the foetus if she did not confess to trying to abort. She was handcuffed to her hospital bed and freed only after agreeing to pay £200 bail. Denunciation by doctors is common in Brazil, Peru and El Salvador.

“There are so many stories,” says Abril, “and it was important to find ways of telling them visually. The image of the handcuffs is a reconstruction because, of course, I was not present. No one was. The stories are true, the research is journalistic, the imagery is sometimes imaginative and sometimes documentary.”

Sean O’Hagan. “‘I’ve seen horrible things’: photographer Laia Abril on her history of misogyny,” on the Guardian website Wed 20 July 2016 [Online] Cited 14/04/2021

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing photographs from Laia Abril’s On Abortion (2018) with at second left, Soap and Enema Syringes

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986) 'Soap and Enema Syringes' 2018

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Soap and Enema Syringes
2018
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

In the picture a set of household abortion tools. In places where abortion is illegal, certain medical instruments can be a giveaway. For this reason, specific supplies have rarely been developed or sold for this procedure. Instead, doctors, back-street abortionists and pregnant women turn to common household tools: knitting needles, wire clothes hangers, urinary catheters and a wide variety of other objects long enough to reach into the uterus.

In the history of coercive reproduction, before the legalisation of abortion – and currently in the countries which remains illegal; was dominated for centuries by restrictive laws, based on demographic and religious agendas. Due the lack of alternatives, women was forced to apply dangerous methods for termination of her pregnancy, facing serious physical damage or even death. Both safe and very effective methods were only developed as of the middle of the last century.  The lives and the survival rate of women have thereby greatly improved.

Museum of contraception and Abortion, Vienna, Austria, 2015. Laia Abril.

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986) 'Soap and syringes used for abortion, from the Museum of Contraception and Abortion in Vienna' Nd

 

Laia Abril (Spanish, b. 1986)
Soap and syringes used for abortion, from the Museum of Contraception and Abortion in Vienna
Nd
From On Abortion
Courtesy of the artist
© Laia Abril

 

 

Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency explores the psychological, physical, and emotional realities people encounter in the years leading up to, during, and after fertility. The exhibition features eight artists who consider a range of topics including birth, miscarriage, pleasure, the lack of access to abortion, trauma, and the loss of fertility. The term “reproductive” is twofold. It implies the characteristics of a photograph, bringing attention to a notable lack of visual representation of the experiences of the female body. Additionally, the term is a reference to a common patriarchal, capitalist view of women’s bodies as vehicles for reproduction. This exhibition aims to add visual presence and a deeper understanding of the precarious nature of female rights and freedoms in a time where the future of these rights is uncertain.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) presents Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency from January 19 – May 23, 2021. The exhibition explores the psychological, physical, and emotional realities women encounter in the years leading up to, during, and after fertility. The exhibition features eight artists who consider a range of topics including birth, miscarriage, pleasure, the lack of access to abortion, trauma, and the loss of fertility. The exhibition is organised by MoCP chief curator and deputy director Karen Irvine and curator of academic programs and collections Kristin Taylor.

With works ranging from photography to video installations, the exhibition includes work by artists Laia Abril, Candice Breitz, Elinor Carucci, Krista Franklin, Doreen Garner, Candy Guinea, Joanne Leonard, and Carmen Winant. This exhibition seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the precarious nature of reproductive rights in a time where the future of these rights is uncertain.

Works on view cover a range of issues all linking back to the theme of reproductive justice. Highlights include Candice Breitz’s installation Labour (2017-ongoing), which probes the many meanings of the word “labour” in terms of capitalism, from the act of giving birth to the labour that is inherent in mothering and nurturing a child, as well as the domestic labor that has historically been assigned to women.

Artists Carmen Winant and Elinor Carucci both explore female sexuality, implicitly and explicitly critiquing the patriarchal gaze at different stages of female life and fertility. Winant’s photographic assemblage of female sexuality in History of My Pleasure (2019-2020) highlights the agency of the libidinous female body, while Carucci explores sensuality and pleasure after menopause, emphasising imagery that is seldom made visible within art history and popular culture.

Other works on view highlight the often-invisible struggles of the reproductive body, including Under the Knife (2018), a project created by Chicago-based artist Krista Franklin, which intimately details the artist’s long struggle with uterine fibroids, a condition that can cause infertility and disproportionately affects Black women. Joanne Leonard explores a different kind of trauma in her Journal of a Miscarriage series (1973), a series of collages that grapple with the loss of her first pregnancy to miscarriage.

Taking a historical approach to understanding the contemporary state of reproductive healthcare, Laia Abril investigates the history of birth control and the subsequent consequences of restricting women’s access to safe and legal abortion, while Doreen Garner hauntingly pays tribute to Black women who were subject to torture in the name of medical research. Looking closely at the contemporary moment from an LGBTQ+ perspective, Candy Guinea depicts the artist’s journey with her partner as they attempt to conceive their first child through insemination, revealing pervasive gender binaries surrounding maternal health care.

The exhibition’s title, Reproductive, refers to both the act of copying something, like a photograph, and the biological creation of offspring. Additionally, the active tense of the verb “to reproduce” points to the capacity that these artists are at once demonstrating and demanding agency.

“The artists featured in this exhibition create space for themselves – and for others – to claim their power,” said exhibition curators Karen Irvine and Kristin Taylor, “revolutionising the prevailing sense of what it means for a woman to be (re)productive.”

Press release from the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Candy Guinea. 'Still from Mariposa' 2017

 

Candy Guinea (American, b. 1984)
Still from Mariposa
2017
Single-channel video, looped
17 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

 

 

This short film convos the family story of Candy Guinea and her partner Castro as they move through the heteronormative childbirth industry. Guinea documents their journey as a queer, Latinx couple as they attempt to conceive their first child through insemination, navigating numerous trials and errors with the process, and considering the larger emotional and social realities of those who undergo this often-arduous form of conception. As the film progresses, we follow the couple as they attempt to find gender-neutral maternity clothing, as well as LGBTQ+ friendly prenatal care, revealing pervasive gender binaries surrounding maternal health care.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing work by Joanne Leonard

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing three works by Joanne Leonard: at left, Censored journal page (Romanticism is Ultimately Fatal and 1964 police photograph of Gerri Santoro, left to die after botched abortion), from Journal of miscarriage 1973; at centre, Tears, November 28, 1973 from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973; and at right, Untitled (cowry shells), November 30, 1973 from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940)
Censored journal page (Romanticism is Ultimately Fatal and 1964 police photograph of Gerri Santoro, left to die after botched abortion) (installation view)
1973
From Journal of a miscarriage, 1973
Collage
Courtesy of Jeremy Stone, San Francisco

 

 

Gerri Santoro

Geraldine “Gerri” Santoro (née Twerdy; August 16, 1935 – June 8, 1964) was an American woman who died because of an illegal abortion in 1964. A police photograph of her dead body, published in 1973, became a symbol of the abortion-rights movement.

 

Biography

Santoro was raised, along with 14 siblings, on the farm of a Ukrainian-American family in Coventry, Connecticut. She was described by those who knew her as “fun-loving” and “free-spirited”. At age 18 she married Sam Santoro; the couple had two daughters together.

 

Circumstances of death

In 1963, her husband’s domestic abuse prompted Santoro to leave, and she and her daughters returned to her childhood home. She took a job at Mansfield State Training School, where she met another employee, Clyde Dixon. The two began an extramarital affair and Santoro became pregnant.

When Sam Santoro announced he was coming from California to visit his daughters, Gerri Santoro feared for her life. On June 8, 1964, twenty-eight weeks into her pregnancy, she and Dixon checked into the Norwich Motel in Norwich, Connecticut, under aliases. They intended to perform a self-induced abortion, using surgical instruments and information from a textbook which Dixon had obtained from Milton Ray Morgan, a teacher at the Mansfield school. Dixon fled the motel after Santoro began to bleed. She died, and her body was found the following morning by a maid.

Dixon and Morgan were arrested three days later. Dixon was charged with manslaughter and Morgan was charged with conspiring to commit an illegal abortion. Dixon was sentenced to a year and day in prison.

 

Famous photograph

Police took a photograph of Santoro’s body as she was found: naked, kneeling, collapsed upon the floor, with a bloody towel between her legs. The picture was used in placards and famously published in Ms. magazine in April 1973, all without identifying Santoro. The photo has since become an abortion-rights symbol, used to illustrate that access to legal and professionally performed abortion reduces deaths from unsafe abortion.

Leona Gordon, Santoro’s sister, saw the photo in Ms. magazine and recognised the subject. Santoro’s daughters had been told their mother died in a car accident, which they believed until the photo became widely distributed. Of the photo’s publication, Santoro’s daughter, Joannie Santoro-Griffin, was quoted in 1995 as saying, “How dare they flaunt this? How dare they take my beautiful mom and put this in front of the public eye?” In more recent years, Joannie has become an abortion rights activist, attending the March for Women’s Lives in 2004 along with Leona and Joannie’s teenage daughter Tara, and blogging about the memory of her mother.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940)
Untitled (cowry shells), November 30, 1973
1973
From Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973
Collage
Courtesy of Jeremy Stone, San Francisco

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940) 'Par/NoPair/OhPere October 9, 1973' (installation view)

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940)
Par/NoPair/OhPere October 9, 1973 (installation view)
From Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973
Collage
Courtesy of Jeremy Stone, San Francisco

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940) 'Par/NoPair/OhPere October 9, 1973'

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940)
Par/NoPair/OhPere October 9, 1973
From Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973
Collage
Courtesy of Jeremy Stone, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing two works by Joanne Leonard: at left, Untitled (woman/flower/snail) from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973; and at right, Love Letter, November 16, 1973 from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973,

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Joanne Leonard (American, b. 1940)
Untitled (woman/flower/snail) (installation view)
From Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973
Collage
Courtesy of Jeremy Stone, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing works by Joanne Leonard: at right, Untitled (clam/shell/birth), November 30, 1973 from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973; and at second right, Untitled (Joanne, frog and sperm) from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing works by Joanne Leonard: at left Magic Act (with painting my M. Ner) from Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing works by Elinor Carucci from her series Midlife (2012-2019) with at left, Winter 2016

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

Installation views of the exhibition Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Photography showing works by Elinor Carucci from her series Midlife (2012-2019)

 

Elinor Carucci. 'My Uterus' 2015

 

Elinor Carucci (Israeli-American, b. 1971)
My Uterus
2015
From Midlife 2012-2019
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

 

 

The intimate images show Elinor Carucci as she approaches the age of fifty and enters menopause – the last cycle of female fertility. Photographs of attempts to remain psychologically balanced and youthful in appearance are coupled with close-up images of blood – a longtime symbol of fertility and the female body. In one poignant image, the artist’s uterus lies starkly on a medical cart just after a hysterectomy – a powerful metaphor for ageing and the grieving that often accompanies a long life. Also included in the series are images of Carucci’s sexual intimacy with her husband Eran, augmenting her bold look at the physical and mental struggles of losing fertility with a hopeful meditation on the longevity of sensuality, physical pride, and pleasure.

 

Doreen Garner. 'Betsey's Flag' 2019

 

Doreen Garner (American, b. 1986)
Betsey’s Flag
2019
Courtesy of the artist and JTT, New York

 

Doreen Garner. 'Betsey's Flag' 2019

 

Doreen Garner (American, b. 1986)
Betsey’s Flag
2019
Courtesy of the artist and JTT, New York

 

Doreen Garner. 'Betsey's Flag' 2019

 

Doreen Garner (American, b. 1986)
Betsey’s Flag
2019
Courtesy of the artist and JTT, New York

 

Krista Franklin (American, b. 1970) 'Self-Portrait in the Aftermath' 2020

 

Krista Franklin
Self-Portrait in the Aftermath
2020
Courtesy of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

 

(left to right)

Doreen Garner (American, b. 1986)
The Success of the Silver Suture: As Told by Sadist
2018
Plexiglass, rubber, inkjet print, menstrual blood, urine, epoxy resin
Courtesy of JTT Gallery, New York

Doreen Garner (American, b. 1986)
The First Operation: As Told by Sadist
2018
Plexiglass, rubber, inkjet print, menstrual blood, urine, epoxy resin
Courtesy of JTT Gallery, New York

Doreen Garner (American, b. 1986)
Death Would Have Been Preferable: As Told by Sadist
2018
Plexiglass, rubber, inkjet print, menstrual blood, urine, epoxy resin
Courtesy of JTT Gallery, New York

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Installation view of the exhibition 'Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency' at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

Carmen Winant. 'A History of My Pleasure' 2019-20 (installation view)

Carmen Winant. 'A History of My Pleasure' 2019-20 (installation view)

Carmen Winant. 'A History of My Pleasure' 2019-20 (installation view)

Carmen Winant. 'A History of My Pleasure' 2019-20 (installation view)

Carmen Winant. 'A History of My Pleasure' 2019-20 (installation view)

 

Carmen Winant (American, b. 1983)
A History of My Pleasure (installation views)
2019-20
Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Museum of Contemporary Photography
Columbia College Chicago
600 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

Opening hours:
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The MoCP is CLOSED when Columbia College Chicago is closed, including all major holidays.

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20
Apr
18

Exhibition: ‘Brassaï’ at Fundación MAPFRE, Barcelona

Exhibition dates: 20th February – 13th May 2018

Curator: Mr. Peter Galassi

 

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Vista per sota del Pont Royal cap al Pont de Solférino [View through the pont Royal toward the pont Solférino]' c. 1933

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Vista per sota del Pont Royal cap al Pont de Solférino
View through the pont Royal toward the pont Solférino

c. 1933
(Nuit / Night 53)
40.1 x 51cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

 

For those who know how to look

Not everyone can see. It takes a great eye and a great mind, and the liberation of that mind, to be able to transform the mundane, the everyday, the vernacular – into art. Brassaï’s folklore, his mythology of life, suggests that the life of others (those living on the edge) is as valuable and essential to the formation of culture as any other part of existence.

Brassaï’s work comes alive at night and, as Alejandra Uribe Ríos observes, “The night was undoubtedly the great muse of his work, his inspiration.” While he got some of his friends to stage scenes for his book Paris by night – acting as prostitutes and customers hanging around in back alleys – it matters not one bit. The artist was embedded in this world and represents what he knows, what he has seen in his mind’s eye.

The density of his photographs is incredible – their atmosphere thick and heavy; revealing and beautiful. “In certain photographs, objects take on a particular light, a fascinating presence. Vision has fixed them “as they are in themselves” […]. It confers a density that is entirely foreign to their real existence. They are there, one might say, for the first time, but at the same time for the last.” The first and last, a circular compaction of time and space into the eternal present, objects as they are in themselves and will always be.

That fascinating presence can be felt even today, for that is what the time freeze of photography does: it “look backwards and forwards in the same instance.”

Brassaï saw something clearly, so that we might see it now. Look at the seemingly mundane space portrayed in Concierge’s Lodge, Paris (1933, below) from his book Paris de jour / Paris by Day. The photograph could be taken at night, but it is day! The small amount of sunlight falls on the tied-back curtain in the doorway; the crumpled mat lies outside the door; the two doors compete for our visual attention – one the solid presence that holds up the left hand side of the image, the other the vanishing point in the distance; and the eye is led down to this door by the pavement and the gutter with a band of water emphasising the form. The verticality of the worn and ancient stone work is emphasised by the modern metal box in front of it, leading the eye up to the Concierge sign only, mind you, for numbers 5 & 7. But then the mystery… what is going on above the ancient door at the rear – the sky, a ceiling, another wall lit by the last rays of the sun? Such a dense, complex image that requires an intimate knowledge of the mystery of place, in both the artist and the viewer.

Here we see Brassaï in Self-portrait, Boulevard Saint-Jacques, Paris 14ème, standing in the snow at night, heavy overcoat, hat, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, squinting through his camera to previsualise not just the photograph he is taking, but it’s final, physical embodiment, the print. In our world today of Insta-photos, millions and millions of photographs that mean basically nothing, and where anyone without training can pick up a camera and think of themselves a photographer, there is something to be said for taking the time to train and educate your eye and your mind. Only then might you reveal something about the world and, possibly, yourself as well.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

@mapfrefcultura #expo_brassai

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

 

 

“I was eager to penetrate this other world, this fringe world, the secret, sinister world of mobsters, outcasts, toughs, pimps, whores, addicts, inverts. Rightly or wrongly, I felt at the time that this underground world represented Paris at its least cosmopolitan, its most alive, its most authentic, that in these colourful faces of its underworld there had been preserved from age to age, almost without alteration, the folklore of its most remote past.”

.
Brassaï, 1976

 

“In certain photographs, objects take on a particular light, a fascinating presence. Vision has fixed them “as they are in themselves” […]. It confers a density that is entirely foreign to their real existence. They are there, one might say, for the first time, but at the same time for the last.”

.
Brassaï, undated note

 

“To oblige the model to behave as if the photographer isn’t there really is to stage a comic performance. What’s natural is precisely not to dodge the photographer’s presence. The natural thing in that situation is for the model to pose honestly.”

.
Brassaï, undated note

 

“The night suggests, he does not teach. The night finds us and surprises us by its strangeness; it liberates in us the forces that, during the day, are dominated by reason.”

“Night does not show things, it suggests them. It disturbes and surprises us with its strangeness. It liberates forces within us which are dominated by our reason during the daytime.”

.
Brassaï

 

“The night was undoubtedly the great muse of his work, his inspiration. The train tracks, the lovers, the fog, the posters, the ballet and the cabarets. Everything is worthy of portraying for those who know how to look and that is undoubtedly one of Brassai’s merits: embodying the everyday, rescuing the magical, the lyrical, the mystery of common life, and doing it with elegance, converting the seemingly trivial into a artwork.”

.
Alejandra Uribe Ríos

 

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Porteria, París [Concierge's Lodge, Paris]' 1933

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Porteria, París
Concierge’s Lodge, Paris

1933
(Paris de jour / Paris by Day 686)
29.3 x 22.2cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'The Eiffel Tower seen through the Gate of the Trocadéro' 1930-32

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
La Torre Eiffel vista a través del reixat del Trocadéro
La torre Eiffel vista a través de la reja del Trocadero
The Eiffel Tower seen through the Gate of the Trocadéro

1930-32
(Nuit / Night 1; variant of Paris de nuit / Paris by Night, plate 57)
30 x 23.6cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Extinguishing a Streetlight, rue Émile Richard' c. 1932

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Apagant un fanal, Rue Émile Richard
Apagando una farola, rue Émile Richard
Extinguishing a Streetlight, rue Émile Richard

c. 1932
(Nuit / Night 267)
22.9 x 28.1cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Avenue de l'Observatoire' 1934

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Avenue de l’Observatoire
1934
Gelatin silver print
23.4 x 30.1cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Streetwalker, near the place d’Italie' 1932

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Meuca, a prop de la Place d’Italie
Prostituta, cerca de la Place d’Italie
Streetwalker, near the place d’Italie
1932
(Plaisirs / Pleasure 333)
29.9 x 22.9cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

 

Introduction

Fundación MAPFRE is launching its 2018 exhibition programme in Barcelona with the exhibition Brassaï, a comprehensive survey of the career of this celebrated Hungarian-born French photographer whose work helped to define the spirit of Paris in the 1930s. Brassaï was one of the most important of the group of European and American photographers whose work in the inter-war years greatly enriched photography’s potential as a form of artistic expression.

The artist began to take photographs in 1929 or 1930, maintaining an intense level of activity throughout the 1930s. Brassaï’s principal subject was Paris, where he settled in 1924, intending to become a painter. Around the end of World War I the artistic centre of the city had shifted from Montmartre to Montparnasse where most of the artists, constituting a major international community, lived like a large family. Brassï was fascinated by the French capital and later said that he started to take photographs in order to express his passion for the city at night. Soon, however, he also began to take portraits, nudes, still life, images of everyday life and depictions of picturesque corners of the city and moments captured during the day.

Brassaï’s confidence in the power of blunt, straightforward photography to transform what it describes, as well as his talent for extracting from ordinary life iconic images of lasting force, won him an important place among the pioneers of modern photography.

This exhibition offers a survey of the artist’s career through more than 200 works (vintage photographs, a number of drawings, a sculpture and documentary material) grouped into twelve thematic sections, of which the two devoted to Paris in the 1930s are the most important. Produced by Fundación MAPFRE and curated by Peter Galassi, chief curator of the Department of Photography at the MoMA, New York, from 1991 to 2011, this is the first retrospective exhibition on Brassaï to be organised since 2000 (Centre Pompidou) and the first to be held in Spain since 1993.

The exhibition benefits from the exceptional loan of the Estate Brassaï Succession (Paris) and other loans from some of the most important institutions and private collections in Europe and the United States, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou (París), The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, David Dechman and Michel Mercure, ISelf Collection (London) and Nicholas and Susan Pritzker.

 

The Photographer – Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899-1984)

Brassaï (the pseudonym of Gyulá Halász) was born in 1899 in Brassó, Transylvania (present-day Braşov in Rumania), from where he subsequently took his name for signing his photographs (Brassaï means “from Brassó”).

After studying art in Budapest and Berlin, he moved to Paris and very soon began to earn occasional money and establish a reputation by selling articles and caricatures to German and Hungarian magazines. Photographs were rapidly replacing traditional magazine illustrations and Brassaï also functioned as a one-man photo-agency. Eventually he started making photographs himself, abandoning painting and sculpting, disciplines for which he nevertheless retained great interest and to which he returned during his career. Around 1900, an aesthetic movement had justified its claim that photography was as a fine art by imitating the appearance of the traditional arts. It was not until the 1920s and 1930s that a new generation rejected that approach and began exploring the artistic potential of plain, ordinary photographs. When the tradition that they launched began to achieve widespread recognition in the 1970s, Brassaï would be recognised as one of its leading figures.

During the German occupation of Paris, Brassaï was obliged to stop taking photographs and he thus returned to drawing and writing. In 1949 he obtained French nationality. After the war he once again devoted part of his time to photography and traveled regularly to undertake commissions for the American magazine Harper’s Bazaar. He died in Beaulieu-sur-Mer (France) in 1984 without ever returning to his native Brassó.

 

The sections of the exhibition

Paris by Night

Paris by Night was in fact the result of a commission which the publisher Charles Peignot gave to the young and still unknown Brassaï. The book, of which a copy is presented in the exhibition, was published in December 1932 and was extremely successful thanks in part to its modern design, pages without margins and richly toned photogravures. Brassaï continued to explore nocturnal Paris throughout the 1930s, developing a personal vision that is embodied in numerous prints in the exhibition.

They evoke the city’s dynamic, vibrant mood: the close-up image of a gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral rather than a conventional view of that building, or the Pont Royal seen from the water rather than from above. These are almost always silent images in which time seems to stand still.

 

Pleasures

When Brassaï reorganised his archive just after World War II, gathered under the rubric Plaisirs he included his pictures of small-time criminals and prostitutes and other figures of Parisian low life together with images of Parisian entertainments, including cheap dance halls to local street fairs to the annual entertainments designed to flout bourgeois conventions. Brassaï obtained permission to work backstage at the famous Folies Bergère, which allowed him to observe everything that was happening from a high viewpoint. His images of Parisian low life transpose to the vivid new medium of photography a vital mythology that had been elaborated in literature and the traditional visual arts.

No one photographed Paris by night as skilfully as Brassaï but he also built up a considerable collection of images of the city by day. Its famous monuments, picturesque corners and details of everyday life are the subject of many of these photographs. Some of his images of the early 1930s reveal his interest in daring geometrical forms and abrupt truncation, for example his famous images of the city’s cobblestones. But even his boldest graphic experiments reflect his abiding fascination with the continuities of an enduring human civilisation.

 

Paris by day

Nobody photographed Paris at night as accurately as Brassaï, but also accumulated a considerable collection of images of the city in daylight. Monuments, picturesque corners or details of everyday life play a large part in these scenes.

Some of his photographs from the thirties also reflect his interest in geometric styles or abrupt cuts, as shown by the famous cobblestone images of city streets. But even these bolder graphic experiments reflect, like the rest of his images of the city, his permanent fascination with what for him was presented as a remote and inexhaustible tradition, in constant development.

 

Graffiti

The notion of graffiti as a powerful art form first emerged in the 20th century. Like African tribal objects, children’s art or that of the mentally ill, graffiti was considered more expressive and vital than the refined forms of traditional western art.

Brassaï was in fact one of the first to focus on this subject matter. He was an inveterate hoarder who throughout his life collected all types of cast-off objects and from almost the moment he began to take photographs he used the medium to record the graffiti he saw on the walls of Paris. He preferred examples of graffiti that had been incised or scratched to drawn or painted ones, as well as those in which the irregularity of the wall itself played an important role in aesthetic terms. He took hundreds of images of this type of which only a small selection is on display here.

 

Minotaure

Between the time of his arrival in Paris in early 1924 and his first steps in photography taken six years later, Brassaï built up a large circle of friends within the international community of artists and writers in Montparnasse. They included Les deux aveugles [The two blind men], as the art critics Maurice Raynal and the Greek-born E. Tériade referred to themselves. In December 1932, the same month that Paris de nuit was published, Tériade invited Brassaï to photograph Picasso and his studios to illustrate the first issue of Minotaure, the deluxe art magazine that would be published in 1933 by the Swiss publisher Albert Skira. Copies of various different issues are on display in this section. This collaboration marked the starting point of Brassaï’s friendship with Picasso, one of the most important of his entire life. Over the following years Brassaï would play an important role in the life of the magazine, particularly with the projects for which he collaborated with Salvador Dalí and as an illustrator to texts by André Breton, although in some cases as an artist in his own right. The first number of the magazine included a series of nudes by Brassaï and his growing graffiti series, while number 7 devoted several pages to Brassaï’s nocturnal visions. All these evoke the artist’s modernity and his relationship with the most important circles of the Parisian avant-garde.

 

Personages / Characters

In 1949 in his prologue to Camera in Paris, a monograph on contemporary photographers, Brassaï paraphrased Baudelaire in The Painter of modern Life and established a line of continuity between the art of the photographer and that of some of the great artists of the past such as Rembrandt, Goya and Toulouse-Lautrec. In this sense he explained how, like them, photography could elevate ordinary subjects to the level of the universal. The people depicted in this gallery reflect that idea as not only do we see a worker at Les Halles market, a transvestite or a penitent in Seville, but through the dignity given to them by the image all of them exceed their individuality and come to represent a collective.

 

Places and things

One of Brassaï’s earliest projects, which was never produced, was a book of photographs of cacti. Many years later, in 1957, he made a short film on animals. Most of his photographs of objects or places, however, focus on human creations, reflecting his boundless curiosity about the people that made them, used them or lived in them.

During his trips Brassaï took numerous photographs of which a small selection are on display here: a view of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia from a high viewpoint, a painted wall in Sacromonte, Granada, and a shop window in New Orleans. In some of these images, such as Vineyard, Château Mouton-Rothschild (June 1953), the viewpoint jumps sharply from the foreground to the background, splitting the image in half along its horizontal axis – a pictorial device invented by Brassaï.

 

Society

During the mid-1930s and just after World War II, Brassaï photographed at more than two dozen gatherings of Parisian high society – costume balls, fancy soirées, and other events both at private homes and such elegant venues as the Ritz – as well as the famous Nuit de Longchamp (the race course just outside of Paris) every summer from 1936 to 1939. At these events he had much less opportunity to intervene in the action than in Parisian dance halls and bars, but he nonetheless was able to create lasting images of a distinct social reality. Perhaps the most extraordinary of them is his photograph of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Art Nouveau interior of the swank restaurant Maxim’s (completed just a few years before the Casa Garriga Nogués). Although that image has been famous since it was made in 1949, Brassaï’s series on Parisian high society is poorly known, and several of the photographs are presented for the first time in this exhibition.

 

Body of a woman

During the occupation of Paris (1940-1944), Brassaï declined to work for the Germans and so was unable to photograph openly. His only income seems to have come from a clandestine commission from Picasso to photograph the master’s sculptures. Partly at Picasso’s urging, Brassaï returned to drawing. Most of the drawings that he made in 1943-1945, like most of the drawings that survive from his time as an art student in Berlin in 1921-1922, are female nudes. The same is the case with many of the sculptures that he started to produce after the war, often made from stones worn by the effect of water.

It would be foolish to attempt to disguise the intensity of Brassaï’s male gaze behind the curtain of a purely aesthetic pursuit of “form.” What is distinctive and powerful in his images of the female body is their unembarrassed carnal urgency.

 

Portraits: artists, writers, friends

Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Henry Miller (who gave Brassaï the sobriquet “The eye of Paris”), Pierre Reverdy, Jacques Prévert, Henri Matisse and Léon-Paul Fargue are just a few of the subjects of the portraits on display in this section of the exhibition.

Most of Brassaï’s portraits are of people that he knew and perhaps as a result of that closeness they convey a powerful spirit of frankness, unencumbered by posturing. It is also true; however, that Brassaï regularly achieved that spirit even when he did not know the subject.

 

Sleep

Broadly speaking, the hallmark of advance European photography in the 1920s and 1930s was a new sense of mobility and spontaneity. But spontaneity was alien to Brassaï’s sensibility, which instead sought clarity and stability. Instead of the popular, hand-held camera, a 35mm Leica, Brassaï chose a camera that used glass plates and often stood on a tripod. As if to declare his independence from the aesthetic of mobility, he chose sleeping in public as a recurrent motif.

 

The street

Brassaï’s work for Harper’s Bazaar led him to travel in France and in numerous other places, from Spain to Sweden, the United States and Brazil. While the roots of his talent lay in Paris he thus produced an extensive body of photographs taken in places that were unfamiliar to him. The exhibition includes a number of these works, three of them depicting Spain.

Press release from Fundación MAPFRE

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Chez Suzy' 1931-32

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Chez Suzy
1931-32
(Plaisirs / Pleasure 352)
30 x 23.8cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Nude in the Bathtub' 1938

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Nu a la banyera
Desnudo en la bañera
Nude in the Bathtub
1938
(Nu / Naked 199)
23.5 x 17.3cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Four Seasons Ball, rue de Lappe' c. 1932

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Bal des Quatre Saisons, rue de Lappe
Four Seasons Ball, rue de Lappe
c. 1932
(Plaisirs / Pleasures 2)
49.8 x 40.4 cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris © Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'At Magic City' c. 1932

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Al Magic City
En Magic City
At Magic City
c. 1932
(Plaisirs / Pleasures 439)
23.2 x 16.6cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Lovers at the Gare Saint-Lazare' 1937

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Amants a l’estació de Saint-Lazare
Amantes en la Gare Saint-Lazare
Lovers at the Gare Saint-Lazare
c. 1937
(Plaisirs / Pleasures 143)
23.6 x 17.3cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Haute Couture Soirée' 1935

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Vetllada d’alta costura
Velada de alta costura
Haute Couture Soirée
1935
(Soirées 85 (image reversed))
17.6 x 21.1cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Lobster Seller, Seville' 1951

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Venedor de marisc, Sevilla
Vendedor de marisco, Sevilla
Lobster Seller, Seville
1951
(Étranger / Foreign 401)
49.3 x 37cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'New Orleans' 1957

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
New Orleans
1957
(Amérique / America 451)
35.9 x 29.4cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Montmartre' 1930-31

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 – 1984)
Montmartre
1930-31
[Paris de jour / Paris by day 472.C]
29.8 x 39.6 cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Jean Genet, Paris' 1948

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Jean Genet, Paris
1948
(Arts 787.E)
39.7 x 30.2cm
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Picasso Holding One Of The Sculptures' 1939

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Picasso Tenant Une De Les Sculptures
Picasso Holding One Of The Sculptures

1939
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Portrait of Picasso in His Studio at 23 rue de La Boëtie, Paris' 1932

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Portrait of Picasso in His Studio at 23 rue de La Boëtie, Paris
1932
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

23 rue de La Boëtie, Paris

 

23 rue de La Boëtie, Paris

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) 'Self-portrait, Boulevard Saint-Jacques, Paris 14ème' c. 1931-1932

 

Brassaï (Gyulá Halász) (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Self-portrait, Boulevard Saint-Jacques, Paris 14ème
c. 1931-1932
© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

 

 

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Calle Diputació, 250
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22
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) Photographs, drawings and photomontages’ at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 15th October 2013 – 26th January 2014

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Grauenfresse / Hitler, Holland, 1933' 1933

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Grauenfresse / Hitler, Holland, 1933
1933
Collage and ink on photomontage (gelatin silver print, double-exposition). Printed later
Collection Helaine and Yorick Blumenfeld, Courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

Considering the nature of Blumenfeld’s collages such as Grauenfresse / Hitler, Holland, 1933 and Minotaur / Dictator I would say that the artist was very, very lucky to escape to America in 1941. Let us remember all those that were not so fortunate…

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“In 1940 he was interned as a German Jew in France, first in Montbard, then in Loriol, Le Vernet, and Catus. He made a daring escape with his family in 1941, returning via Casablanca to New York, where he subsequently lived and worked until his death.” (press release)

“After Blumenfeld returned to France, during World War II, Blumenfeld and his family spent time in Vézelay with Le Corbusier and Romain Rolland. He was incarcerated at Camp Vernet and other concentration camps. His daughter Lisette (who had just turned 18) was incarcerated at the Gurs internment camp. Luckily Blumenfeld was bunked next to the husband of the woman Lisette was bunked next to. Through postcards and letters the Blumenfeld family of five managed to reunite. In 1941 they obtained a visa and escaped to North Africa and then New York.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Minotaur / Dictator' [Minotaure / Dictateur] The Minotaur or The Dictator Paris, c. 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Minotaur / Dictator [Minotaure / Dictateur]
The Minotaur or The Dictator
Paris, c. 1937
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton / Art+Commerce, New York, Gallery Kicken Berlin, Berlin

 

 

The Vichy Policy on Jewish Deportation

Paul Webster

 

Jewish Statute

Despite autonomy from German policies, Pétain brought in legislation setting up a Jewish Statute in October 1940. By then about 150,000 Jews had crossed what was known as the Demarcation Line to seek protection from Vichy in the south – only to find they were subjected to fierce discrimination along lines practised by the Germans in the north.

Jews were eventually banned from the professions, show business, teaching, the civil service and journalism. After an intense propaganda campaign, Jewish businesses were ‘aryanised’ by Vichy’s Commission for Jewish Affairs and their property was confiscated. More than 40,000 refugee Jews were held in concentration camps under French control, and 3,000 died of poor treatment during the winters of 1940 and 1941. The writer Arthur Koestler, who was held at Le Vernet near the Spanish frontier, said conditions were worse than in the notorious German camp, Dachau.

During 1941 anti-Semitic legislation, applicable in both zones, was tightened. French police carried out the first mass arrests in Paris in May 1941when 3,747 men were interned. Two more sweeps took place before the first deportation train provided by French state railways left for Germany under French guard on 12 March 1942. On 16 July 1942, French police arrested 12,884 Jews, including 4,501 children and 5,802 women, in Paris during what became known as La Grande Rafle (‘the big round-up’). Most were temporarily interned in a sports stadium, in conditions witnessed by a Paris lawyer, Georges Wellers.

‘All those wretched people lived five horrifying days in the enormous interior filled with deafening noise … among the screams and cries of people who had gone mad, or the injured who tried to kill themselves’, he recalled. Within days, detainees were being sent to Germany in cattle-wagons, and some became the first Jews to die in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

 

Vichy crimes

Many historians consider that an even worse crime was committed in Vichy-controlled southern France, where the Germans had no say. In August 1942, gendarmes were sent to hunt down foreign refugees. Families were seized in their houses or captured after manhunts across the countryside. About 11,000 Jews were transported to Drancy in the Paris suburbs, the main transit centre for Auschwitz. Children as young as three were separated from their mothers – gendarmes used batons and hoses – before being sent to Germany under French guard, after weeks of maltreatment.

During 1942, officials sent 41,951 Jews to Germany, although the deportations came to a temporary halt when some religious leaders warned Vichy against possible public reaction. Afterwards, arrests were carried out more discreetly. In 1943 and 1944, the regime deported 31,899 people – the last train left in August 1944, as Allied troops entered Paris. Out of the total of 75,721 deportees, contained in a register drawn up by a Jewish organisation, fewer than 2,000 survived.

Revolt and aftermath

The number of dead would have been far higher if the Italian fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, had not ordered troops in France to defy German-French plans for mass round ups in Italian-occupied south-eastern France. Thousands were smuggled into Italy after Italian generals said that ‘no country can ask Italy, cradle of Christianity and law, to be associated with these (Nazi) acts’. After the Italian surrender in September 1943, arrests in the area restarted, but by then French public opinion had changed. Escape lines to Switzerland and Spain had been set up, and thousands of families risked death to shelter Jews. Since the war, Israel has given medals to 2,000 French people, including several priests, in recognition of this, and of the fact that about 250,000 Jews survived in France.

Post-war indifference to anti-Semitic persecution pushed the issue into the background until Serge Klarsfield, a Jewish lawyer whose Romanian father died in Germany, reawakened the national conscience. He tracked down the German chief of the Secret Service in Lyon, Klaus Barbie, who was hiding in Bolivia but was subsequently jailed for life in 1987. His case threw light on Vichy’s complicity in the Holocaust. Klarsfeld’s efforts were frustrated by the Socialist president of France at this time, Francois Mitterrand, who had been an official at Vichy and was decorated by Pétain. It was not until 1992 that one of Barbie’s French aides, Paul Touvier, who had been a minor figure in wartime France, was jailed for life for his crimes.

Facing facts

French courts, responding to Mitterrand’s warnings that trials would cause civil unrest, blocked other prosecutions, including that of the Vichy police chief, René Bousquet, who organised the Paris and Vichy zone mass arrests. He was assassinated by a lone gunman in June 1993. It was not until Mitterrand retired in 1995 that France began to face up to its responsibility in the persecution of Jews. When the new right-wing president, Jacques Chirac, came to power, he immediately condemned Vichy as a criminal regime and two years later the Catholic Church publicly asked for forgiveness for its failure to protect the Jews.

But the most significant step forward was the trial in 1997 of Maurice Papon, 89, for crimes concerning the deportation of Jews from Bordeaux. He had served as a cabinet minister after the war, before losing a 16-year legal battle to avoid trial. He was released from jail because of poor health, but his ten-year prison sentence has been interpreted as official recognition of French complicity in the Holocaust, although there are still those who continue to defend his actions.

Since the trial, France has opened up hidden archives and offered compensation to survivors – and ensured that schools, where history manuals used not to mention France’s part in the deportations, now have compulsory lessons on Vichy persecution. While anti-Semitism is still a social problem in France, there is no official discrimination, and today’s 600,000-strong Jewish community is represented at every level of the establishment, including in the Catholic Church, where the Archbishop of Paris is Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger.

Extract from Paul Webster. “The Vichy Policy on Jewish Deportation,” on the BBC History website, 17/02/2011 [Online] Cited 23/01/2021

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

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Mode-Montage' c. 1950

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Mode-Montage
c. 1950
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Helaine et Yorick Blumenfeld
Courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Marguerite von Sivers sur le toit du studio 9, rue Delambre' [Marguerite von Sivers on the roof of Blumenfeld’s studio at 9, rue Delambre] Paris, 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Marguerite von Sivers sur le toit du studio 9, rue Delambre [Marguerite von Sivers on the roof of Blumenfeld’s studio at 9, rue Delambre]
Paris, 1937
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton / Art+Commerce, New York, Gallery Kicken Berlin, Berlin
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled [Natalia Pasco]' 1942

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled [Natalia Pasco]
1942
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Voile mouillé' [Wet veil] Paris, 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Voile mouillé [Wet Veil]
Paris, 1937
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection particulière, Suisse
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Cecil Beaton' 1946

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Cecil Beaton
1946
Vintage silver gelatin print
Collection particulière, Suisse
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Self-Portrait' Paris, c. 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Self-Portrait
Paris, c. 1937
Gelatin silver print. Printed later
Collection Helaine and Yorick Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled (Self-Portrait)' 1945

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled (Self-Portrait)
1945

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld’s life and work impressively document the socio-political context of artistic development between the two World Wars, while highlighting the individual consequences of emigration. The exhibition devoted to Erwin Blumenfeld’s multi-layered œuvre brings together over 300 works and documents from the late 1910s to the 1960s, and encompasses the various media explored by the artist throughout his career: drawings, photographs, montages and collages.

This exhibition traces his visual creativity and encompasses the early drawings, the collages and montages, which mostly stem from the early 1920s, the beginnings of his portrait art in Holland, the first black and white fashion photographs of the Paris period, the masterful colour photography created in New York and the urban photos taken toward the end of his life.

The retrospective also showcases his drawings, many of which have never been shown before, as well as his early collages and photomontages, shedding fascinating light on the evolution of his photographic oeuvre and revealing the full extent of his creative genius. The now classic motifs of his experimental black-and-white photographs can be seen alongside his numerous self-portraits and portraits of famous and little-known people, as well as his fashion and advertising work.

In the first years of his career, he worked only in black and white, but as soon as it became technically possible he enthusiastically used colour. He transferred his experiences with black-and-white photography to colour; applying them to the field of fashion, he developed a particularly original repertoire of forms. The female body became Erwin Blumenfeld’s principal subject. In his initial portrait work, then the nudes he produced while living in Paris and, later on, his fashion photography, he sought to bring out the unknown, hidden nature of his subjects; the object of his quest was not realism, but the mystery of reality

Blumenfeld’s work was showcased most recently in France in a 1981 show at the Centre Pompidou, which focused on his fashion photography, in 1998 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, as well as more recently in the exhibition Blumenfeld Studio, Colour, New York, 1941-1960 (Chalon-sur-Saône, Essen, London).

Press release from the Jeu de Paume website

 

“Bringing together over three hundred works and documents dating from the late 1910s to the 1960s, this exhibition, the first in France to showcase the multilayered aspects of Erwin Blumenfeld’s oeuvre, encompasses the various media explored by the artist throughout his career: drawing, photography, montage, and collage.

The life and work of Erwin Blumenfeld (Berlin, 1897 – Rome, 1969) provides an impressive record of the socio-political context of artistic development between the two World Wars, while highlighting the individual consequences of emigration. Erwin Blumenfeld, a German Jew, only spent a few years in his country of birth. It was only in 1919, when he was in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands, that Blumenfeld began to take a deeper interest in photography, particularly the photographic process and above all the artistic possibilities offered by darkroom experiments. For a short while, he ran an Amsterdam-based portrait studio that doubled as an exhibition space, before moving to Paris in 1936, where the art dealer Walter Feilchenfeldt helped him rent a studio in the rue Delambre. That same year, his photographs were exhibited at the Galerie Billiet, while the following year saw his first beauty cover, for Votre Beauté magazine. In 1938 he received a visit from leading fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, who helped him to obtain a contract with the French Vogue. Blumenfeld travelled to New York, returning in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war, to become Harper’s Bazaar’s fashion correspondent in Paris.

In 1940 he was interned as a German Jew in France, first in Montbard, then in Loriol, Le Vernet, and Catus. He made a daring escape with his family in 1941, returning via Casablanca to New York, where he subsequently lived and worked until his death. It was in New York that Blumenfeld’s astonishing career as a much sought after, highly paid fashion photographer really took off, first of all in the studio he shared with Martin Munkácsi, then from 1943 in his own premises. The contract he signed with the publishers Condé Nast in 1944 marked the beginning of ten years of remarkable photography and cover shots for various magazines in the company’s stable. Following on from his experimental black-and-white shots of the 1930s, he began playing with colour. The present exhibition includes, besides photographs, both magazine work and early experimental films made for the Dayton department store in Minneapolis, his leading advertising customer.

Not until 1960 did Blumenfeld return to Berlin for a visit. He devoted the following years to finishing his autobiography, begun in the 1950s. The work was completed in 1969 with the help of his assistant Marina Schinz, but was only published in 1975, initially in French translation, then in the original German in 1976. His book My One Hundred Best Photos was also released posthumously, in 1979.

 

Drawings, Montages, and Collages

Between 1916 and 1933 Erwin Blumenfeld produced a fairly limited number of drawings and montages. As a young man he was very interested in literature, writing poems and short stories. And as early as 1915 he mentioned that he was interested in writing an autobiography. Almost all of his montages and collages include drawings and snippets of language. He plays with written and printed words and typography, juxtaposing names, concepts, and places to create ironic commentaries and provocative titles. His collages typically combine drawing, language, and cut-outs of original or printed photographs. He also often used letter stationery to form a background, leaving bare spaces. In 1918 Blumenfeld made the acquaintance of the Dadaist George Grosz; two years later he and Paul Citroen wrote to Francis Picabia in the name of the Hollandse Dadacentrale, but neither was present at the First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920. That same year, Blumenfeld began using the pseudonyms Erwin Bloomfeld and Jan Bloomfield, as documented in his Dadaist publications and in some of his collages. The drawings in the present exhibition, most of which have never been shown in public, were produced in Berlin and the Netherlands. Only a handful of them are dated. They are quick sketches from life or from imagination, rough cartoons and acid caricatures, in pencil, ink, watercolour, or coloured pencil – whatever was to hand. Blumenfeld was clearly fascinated by the quality and immediacy of drawing as a medium, and, as these works reveal, it certainly stimulated his playful side.

 

Self-Portraits

Blumenfeld took his first photographs as a schoolboy, using himself as one of his first subjects. The earliest date from the 1910s, but he continued taking self-portraits to the end of his life. The young man with the dreamy gaze turned into the louche bohemian with a cigarette, then the carefully staged photographer experimenting with his camera. His self-portraits are not the product of excessive vanity, but rather playful experiments, with and without masks, models, and other grotesque objects such as a calf’s head, all used to create witty images.

 

Portraits

Blumenfeld’s first steps in professional photography were in portraiture. He started “learning by doing” in the early 1920s in Amsterdam, where he had opened the ladies handbag store Fox Leather Company. This is where he took portraits of customers, using a darkroom in the back of the store. Comparison of the contact sheets from the time with the blow-ups taken from them clearly shows, right from the outset, the importance in Blumenfeld’s work of the finishing in the lab. The final images display extremely tight framing, high levels of contrast, and lighting that creates dramatic, even devilish, effects. When he arrived in Paris in 1936 his first photographs were portraits, featuring among others Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. Although he quickly entered the Paris fashion scene, he retained a strong interest in portraiture throughout the remainder of his life.

 

Nudes

Blumenfeld’s earliest, highly narrative nudes date from his time in the Netherlands, but the subject only became a passion during his Paris years from 1936 on, when he discovered the work of French avant-garde photographers. His admiration for them is particularly evident in his nude photographs, as is the influence of Man Ray’s work. The bodies of the women in these images were surfaces onto which he projected his artistic imagination. He cut them up, solarised them, and transformed them into abstract imagery through the play of light and shadow. The faces of his nudes from the 1930s are only rarely visible, the women remaining somewhat mysterious entities. The nudes Blumenfeld produced in the 1950s after he had settled in New York tended to be more concrete, illustrative works.

 

Architecture

The black-and-white architectural photographs that Erwin Blumenfeld took in the 1930s feature buildings and urban spaces from various experimental and abstract perspectives. The Eiffel Tower, for instance, is captured in sharp reliefs of light and shade, while the photographs of Rouen Cathedral are intended to draw the viewer’s visual attention to the building’s specific forms. Blumenfeld expresses his artistic vision and his knowledge of Gothic architecture by focusing on the abstraction of details. During the 1950s and 1960s Blumenfeld used a 35mm camera for cityscapes. The exhibition showcases three of these colour slide projects for the first time. They feature New York, Paris, and Berlin – three places that made a mark on his art and also shaped his career.

 

The Dictator

In 1933, according to his autobiography, Blumenfeld reacted to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany with a photomontage. This outstanding piece of work, probably his most famous photograph, symbolises and anticipates the dictator’s dehumanisation. Following on from the political themes in some of his early collages, he here combined different negatives – a skull and a portrait of Hitler – to make a single print. In one of these montages he included a swastika, while in a different portrait “bleeding eyes” were added later on the surface. Later on, in Paris, he photographed a calf’s head, using this subject to compose different images. One in which he placed the animal’s head on a woman’s torso was titled The Minotaure or The Dictator. This image, which does not refer to a specific figure, is obviously intended to be allegorical. In 1941 Blumenfeld was able to escape from the Nazis with his family to New York.

 

Fashion

Blumenfeld’s move to Paris in 1936 marked the beginning of his career as a fashion photographer, although he had already had contacts with magazines in Paris while living in Amsterdam. The work that appeared in French publications in the late 1930s raised Blumenfeld’s profile as a modernist photographer and brought him to the attention of the famous British photographer Cecil Beaton, who visited him in his studio in 1938 and helped him sign his first contract with the French edition of Vogue. When Blumenfeld made his first trip to New York following his sensational set of fashion photographs on the Eiffel Tower, he came home with a new contract as Paris fashion correspondent for Harper’s Bazaar. He was only able to file his reports for a year before he was interned in various prison camps across France. In 1941 he was able to escape from German-occupied France to New York with his family. In the first half of the 1950s, he drew on his experiments in black-and-white photography to develop an exceptionally original artistic repertoire, reflected in his use of colour and his fashion work.

Ute Eskildsen
Curator of the exhibition
Translated from German by Susan Pickford

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Three Graces (1947), New York' 1947

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Three Graces (1947), New York
1947

 

 

Leslie Petersen appears here in a triple variation inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera. The photograph, was intended to show off a gown by Cadwallader. The final image is made of two shots. The two on the right are similar but with different degrees of sharpness. The pose on the left is different. (Text from Phaidon)

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Nude (Lisette)' Paris, 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Nude (Lisette)
Paris, 1937
Gelatin silver print, negative print, solarisation. Vintage print
Collection Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton / Art + Commerce, New York, Gallery Kicken Berlin, Berlin
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Charlie' 1920

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Charlie
1920
Collage, Indian ink, watercolour and pencil on paper
Collection Helaine and Yorick Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled, New York, 1944' 1944

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled, New York, 1944
1944
Gelatin silver print. Vintage print
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'In hoc signo vinces [in this sign you will conquer]' 1967

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
In hoc signo vinces [in this sign you will conquer]
1967
Gelatin silver print. Vintage print
Private collection, Switzerland
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Audrey Hepburn' New York, 1950

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Audrey Hepburn
New York, 1950
Vintage silver gelatin print
Collection particulière, Suisse.
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

Audrey Hepburn is wearing a hat designed by Blumenfeld and made by Mister Fred, one of New York’s most talented milliners. Blumenfeld here uses a system of mirrors showing the front and back of the hat and allowing infinite repetition of the motif. (Text from Phaidon)

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled [Homme agenouillé avec tour]' [Kneeling man with tower] 1920

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled [Homme agenouillé avec tour] [Kneeling man with tower]
1920
Indian ink, ink, watercolor and collage on paper
Collection Henry Blumenfeld.
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Group with Chaplin' Early 1920's

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Group with Chaplin
Early 1920’s
Gouache and pencil on paper
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled (Green dress)' 1946

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled (Green dress)
1946

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Do your part for the Red Cross' [Soutenez la Croix-Rouge] 1945

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Do your part for the Red Cross [Soutenez la Croix-Rouge]
1945
Variante de la photographie de couverture de Vogue US, 15 mars 1945
Variant of a cover photograph of Vogue, “Do your part for the Red Cross”, New York, March 15th, 1945
Impression jet d’encre sur papier Canson baryta, tirage posthume (2012).
Collection Henry Blumenfeld.
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

A model, a red cross: fashion and current affairs superimposed. The background to this humanitarian appeal is the liberation of the concentration camps and the aid brought to prisoners of war. Blumenfeld reinterprets these humanitarian signs just as he blurs those of fashion. (Text from Phaidon)

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. Variant of the photograph published in Life Magazine entitled "The Picasso Girl" [The young woman of Picasso] (model: Lisette) c. 1941-1942

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Variante de la photographie parue dans Life Magazine et intitulée “The Picasso Girl” [La jeune femme Picasso]
Variant of the photograph published in Life Magazine entitled “The Picasso Girl” [The young woman of Picasso]
(model: Lisette)
c. 1941-1942
Inkjet printing on Canson baryta paper, posthumous print (2012)
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. Three profiles. Variant of the photograph published in the article "Color and lighting" Photograph Annual of 1952

 

The young woman of Picasso
Trois profils. Variante de la photographie parue dans l’article “Color and lighting” [Couleur et éclairage], de Photograph Annual 1952
Three profiles. Variant of the photograph published in the article “Color and lighting” Photograph Annual of 1952
1952
Inkjet printing on Canson baryta paper, posthumous print (2012)
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

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21
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Guy Bourdin’ at the House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 1st November 2013 – 26th January 2014

 

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART WORK OF FEMALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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Many thankx to House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' (Child) 1950

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled (Child)
1950
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' (Child with doll and pram) 1954

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled (Child with doll and pram)
1954
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' (Child lying on stones) 1953-57

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled (Child lying on stones)
1953-57
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'La Baigneuse' c. 1950-53

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
La Baigneuse (The Bather)
c. 1950-53
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Vogue Paris - January 1966' 1966

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Vogue Paris – January 1966
1966
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' Nd

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled
Nd
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

 

House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg announces an exhibition of the legendary photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991), on view from November 1, 2013 – January 26, 2014. This most comprehensive exhibition to date is both an overview of the essential components of Guy Bourdin’s oeuvre and an introduction to unveiling works from his personal archives which have never been seen before. This is the first time that both his works as a painter and his notes on films are being shown at an exhibition. B&W shots dating from the 1950s are also included, showing portraits of artists and views of the city of Paris as well as Polaroids, sketches and texts. The exhibition examines Guy Bourdin’s oeuvre, but moreover, it provides insight into the complex working processes of the photographer’s mind and aims to establish his status as a visionaire image maker.

Guy Bourdin’s career spanned more than forty years during which time he worked for the world’s leading fashion houses and magazines. With the eye of a painter, Guy Bourdin created images that contained fascinating stories, compositions, both in B&W and in colours. He was among the 1st to create images with narratives, telling stories and shows that the image is more important than the product which is displayed. Using fashion photography as his medium, he sent out his message, one that was difficult to decode, exploring the realms between the absurd and the sublime. Famed for his suggestive narratives and surreal aesthetics, he radically broke conventions of commercial photography with a relentless perfectionism and sharp humour.

During the 1950s, Guy Bourdin launched his career with fashion assignments for Vogue Paris working in B&W. It’s nearly unknown, that half of the oeuvre of Guy Bourdin is black-and-white and as amazingly powerful as his colour works. He developed colour photography to its maximum effect, creating dramatic accents with intense colour saturation and textures in his compositions. Guy Bourdin used the format of the double spread magazine page in the most inventive way. He tailored his compositions to the constraints of the printed page both conceptually and graphically, and the mirror motif so central in his work finds its formal counterpart in the doubleness of the magazine spread. Layout and design become powerful metaphors for the photographic medium, engaging the eye and with it, the mind. While on the one hand employing formal elements of composition, Guy Bourdin, on the other hand, sought to transcend the reality of the photographic medium with surreal twists to the apparent subject of his images and his unconventional manipulation of the picture plane. Given total creative freedom and with uncompromising artistic ethic, Guy Bourdin captured the imagination of a whole generation at the late 1970s, recognised as the highest note in his career.

Guy Bourdin was an image maker, a perfectionist. He knew how to grab the attention of the viewer and left nothing to chance. He created impeccable sets, or when not shooting in his studio rue des Ecouffes in le Marais, in undistinguished bedrooms, on the beach, in nature, or in urban landscapes. The unusual dramas that unfold in these seemingly everyday scenes and ordinary encounters pique our subconscious and invite our imagination. Moreover, he developed a technic using hyper real colours, meticulous compositions of cropped elements such as low skies with high grounds and the interplay of light and shadows as well as the unique make-up of the models.

“Guy Bourdin irreverently swept away all the standards of beauty, conventional morals and product portrayals in one fell swoop. Around the female body he constructed visual disruptions, the outrageous, the hair-raising, the indiscreet, the ugly, the doomed, the fragmentary and the absent, torsos and death – all the tension and the entire gamut of what lies beyond the aesthetic and the moral,” explains the exhibition’s curator Ingo Taubhorn. Bourdin investigates in minute detail the variables of fashion photography, from brash posing to subtle performances and from complex settings to novel and disturbing notions of images.

Guy Bourdin’s imagery not only changed the course of fashion photography but influenced a host of contemporary artists, photographers and filmmakers. It is without question, that Guy Bourdin’s work for Vogue and his highly acclaimed print advertising for Charles Jourdan in the 1970s are now being seen in the appropriate context of contemporary art.

Press release from House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Self portrait' c. 1950

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Self portrait
c. 1950
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' 1960

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled
1960
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' Nd

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled
Nd
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Charles Jourdan - Spring 1979' 1979

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Charles Jourdan – Spring 1979
1979
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Pentax Calendar' 1981

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Pentax Calendar
1981
Asahi Optical Company Limited. Tokyo, Japan
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Vogue Paris - May 1970' 1970

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Vogue Paris – May 1970
1970
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Charles Jourdan - Spring 1978' 1978

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Charles Jourdan – Spring 1978
1978
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Vogue Paris - December 1969' 1969

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Vogue Paris – December 1969
1969
Jewellery: Van Cleef & Arpels
Make-up: Serge Lutens
© Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

 

Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Deichtorstrasse 1-2
20095
Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0)40 32103-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Closed Mondays

Deichtorhallen Hamburg website

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19
Jan
13

Exhibition: ‘Bob Mizer: ARTIFACTS’ at Invisible-Exports, New York / Research into photographs of men at the Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana 1999

Exhibition dates: 14th December 2012 – 27th January 27 2013

 

Bob Mizer. 'Rick Gordon, rooftop studio, Los Angeles' 1972

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Rick Gordon, rooftop studio, Los Angeles
1972
Vintage color transparency
Cibachrome print
10.5 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

 

** Warning this posting contains male nudity – oh no! **

There are some appealing but relatively tame photographs from one of the doyens of male physique photography from the 1950s-1970s in this posting. More interesting to me are the photographs that never get published or shown in a gallery. While visiting The Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Indiana as part of my PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male in 2001 I made a list of all the physique photographers present in their collection, as well as annotated notes on the photographs of Baron von Gloeden, George Platt Lynes, male homosexual catalogue photographs, male homosexual photographs and male2male sex photographs. Unfortunately almost nothing of this amazing collection of photographs at The Kinsey has ever been published, mainly I suspect due to the prudish nature of American society.

The physique photographers include artists such as Russ Warner, Al Urban, Lon of New York (who began their careers in the late 1930’s), Bob Mizer (started Athletic Model Guild (AMG) in 1945 and later, on his own, Physique Pictorial), Charles Renslow (started Kris studio in 1954), Bruce of Los Angeles, Douglas: Detroit, Dick Falcon, Melan, Karl Eller and Physique Culture and Early Homosexual Magazines.

Bob Mizer set up AMG in 1945 to photograph male bodybuilders and it is now the oldest male model photography studio in the United States of America. All models in the photographs that I studied were well built, smooth, toned. Lots of outdoor shots! Models are usually quite young (18-22 approx.) Tiny waists and v shaped. For example Image No. 51820. 3 studio portraits of one smooth boy featuring twisted back, arms and torso to great effect. Total V shape. Lots of erotic wrestling photographs from AMG as well.

Although not showing nudes in publications such as Physique Pictorial, private photographs by Bob Mizer heavily feature nudity. Wide use made of projected backdrops – abstracts, leaves, mountains, ships, classical Roman ruins. 4″ x 5″ prints are much better than the 8″ x 10″ enlargements. The Annotations on back of both size images tell of the models jobs and sexual orientation and what they will or will not do sexually if known. It is interesting to note that these annotations are usually the only thing that places the physical bodies in a social context. The studio shots really have no context while the outdoor shots have slightly more context. The annotations helps define the social and sexual structures within which the models circulated.

What surprised me the most in The Kinsey Institute collection were the black and white and colour photographs of the beefcake models with erect penis and having full on male2male sex out in the open. These photographs are never seen, never published or exhibited but these prurient texts provide an important touchstone when trying to understand the more sexually and aesthetically passive work. It is a pity that the viewer cannot make an informed decision on the development of an artist’s oeuvre without im/morality raising its ugly head.

PLEASE SEE THE NOTES FROM MY RESEARCH AT THE KINSEY INSTITUTE BELOW IN THE POSTING.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Invisible Exports for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

 

Bob Mizer. 'John Benninghoff' 1991

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
John Benninghoff
1991
Vintage color transparency
Cibachrome print
7 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 5
Printed 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown, Los Angeles' 1972

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown, Los Angeles
1972
Vintage color transparency
Cibachrome print
10.5 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. Production still from "Boy Factory", 1969

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Production still from “Boy Factory”
1969
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
16 x 20 inches
Edition of 3
Printed in 2012

 

 

Most widely known as a photographer-filmmaker, independent publisher, and midcentury iconoclast, Bob Mizer (1922-1992) was an erotic auteur and a lyrical chronicler of the pre-Stonewall demimonde. In his meticulously staged idiosyncratic private work, Mizer revealed himself as a conscientious artist of intimacy and depth, a visionary stylist of the male-on-male gaze as it was refracted through a culture suffused with masculine iconography, which yet stymied and redirected the vectors of desire. The objects and photographs here show Mizer to be the progenitor of a new kind of devotional work that honours the kaleidoscopic typology of desire in the final stages of the underground era, while approaching it simultaneously as an improvised and mesmerising ethnography.

Mizer founded the Athletic Model Guild studio in 1945 when American censorship laws permitted women, but not men, to be photographed partially nude, so long as the result was “artistic” in nature. In 1947 he was wrongly accused of having sex with a minor and subsequently served a year-long prison sentence at a desert work camp in Saugus, California. But his career was catapulted into infamy in 1954 when he was convicted of the unlawful distribution of obscene material through the US mail. The material in question was a series of black and white photographs, taken by Mizer, of young bodybuilders wearing what were known as posing straps – a precursor to the G-string.

Upon his release from prison, he continued working undeterred, founding the groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial in 1951, which also debuted the work of artists such as Tom of Finland, Quaintance and many others. Models included future Andy Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro, actors Glenn Corbett, Alan Ladd, Susan Hayward, Victor Mature, and actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Throughout his long career he produced a dizzying array of intimate and idiosyncratic imagery, some flattened of explicit content but bathed nevertheless in an unmistakable erotic glow – tributes to the varieties of desire. Although Mizer’s studio was successful, his influence on artists ranging from David Hockney (who moved from England to California in part to seek out Mizer), Robert Mapplethorpe, Francis Bacon, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol and many others is only now beginning to be more widely appreciated.

The works collected in Bob Mizer: ARTIFACTS include a rare selection of staged tableux, images of California subcultures and an intimate collection of objects from various private sessions – preserved by Mizer along with photographs, films, videos and an ever-expanding catalog of props which over time evolved into a haphazard private museum and a natural history of American desire.

Press release from the Invisible-Exports website

 

Bob Mizer. 'Jim Carroll, Los Angeles' c. 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Jim Carroll, Los Angeles
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Bill Holland, Los Angeles' c. 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Bill Holland, Los Angeles
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Beau Rouge, Los Angeles' c. 1954

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Beau Rouge, Los Angeles
c. 1954
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

 

Research at the Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana

16/08/1999 – 19/08/1999

This research was undertaken as part of my Phd research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male at RMIT University, Melbourne.

  • Male homosexual catalogue photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • George Platt Lynes photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • M2M sex photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • Notes on physique culture photographs and magazines from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • Baron von Gloeden photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

 

Male homosexual catalogue photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

Image No. 543-280. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #11. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Image No. 543-281. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #5. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Proof sheet photographs cut up and taped down onto card and the rephotographed. #11 features a solo young man, naked except boots and hat, posing with whip. #5 features natural boys in shorts, shirts, wrestling, one punching the other’s stomach, holding each other just wearing underwear. Really cute, natural bodies and photographs. Some posing by photographer. Lighting obviously just by table lamps or lights, very amateur, but all the more intriguing and interesting for that.

Image No. 2667-9. Anonymous. Nd Acquired 1951.

Image No. 2669 is a duplicate of No. 2667. 8″ x 10″ sheet of proofs 6 side by 6 high, each proof oblong in shape. Originally folded in four and now flattened out.

2 men, possibly 3 (hard to tell from small proofs), in the country by a river/pond, diving, fishing, posing, lifting weights, rocks, rowing boats together, archery, playing tennis, wrestling, running. Sunbaking side by side, one back down, the other stomach down on a rock by the river, great bodies – some of the most beautiful physique photographs, if not THE best in the whole collection. Need to have negatives made and printed! 2 men have great bodies, smooth, built, and great poses and rapport with each other. Strong sunlight. They have painted on posing pouches, so originally they must have been nude photographs. American. Social setting and context is interesting – theirs or a friends country property? (tennis courts, lake, etc., …) enabled the privacy needed to photograph them like this, so from a moneyed social class.

Image No. 2864-5. Anonymous. Nd 1950s? Chicago Police Dept., Acquired 05/1961.

Image No. 2864. 12 models on a 3″ wide x 4″ high page.
Image No. 2865. 4 models on a 2″ wide x 4″ high page.

Rare physique photographs of nude men with erections. Some are shot using double flash or lights in a house (skirting board visible). A couple on an unmade bed and others in a studio setting with nothing behind. Most models are smiling! Same photographer in both proof sheets as curtain behind bed features in both sheets. Also numbered sequentially 1-12 for first sheet, 13-16 for second sheet.

 

George Platt Lynes photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

It is interesting to note that most of the photographs list the names of the models used but I am unable to print them here due to an agreement between GPL and Dr. Kinsey as to their secrecy. Also most of the photographs have annotations in code on the back of them giving details of age, sexual proclivities of models and what they are prepared to do and where they were found. This information gives a vital social context to GPL’s nude photographs of men and positions them within the moral and ethical framework of the era in which they were made. I hope that one day this information, along with the names of the models, can be made available to the public to give them a greater insight into the development of GPL’s personal aesthetic as well as the development of the visible erotic desire of the male body by and for other men during the 1940s-1950s.

Untitled Nude. 1944.

Photograph of a well built older (about 25?) nude man reclining on a bench with a high back. Lit by one spot on body forming heavy shadows with the backdrop lit to form outline of body against it. Head is tilted back so face not visible, left arm flung out. man is smooth, toned and quite hunky. Hairy legs with one knee in air. This is a very passive pose and the genitalia are hidden in deep shadow as though afraid to be revealed. Despair/sex/anonymity?

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 16.

Some earlier nudes especially portrait of Reginald Beane, 1938, have a very Man Ray quality too them. See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 47.

Untitled Nude. 1953.

Black man lying on a white mattress in a horizontal position, the top of mattress showing creases in the sheet covering it. Photographed from slightly higher than the prone body, horizontal print. This photograph is an exercise in tonal scale and lighting / textures. Beautiful light on body. The image is divided into different planes and spaces.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 57.

Male Nude Hanging. 1940.

Close up of fuller length photograph of 1940 Crucifixion showing agony on face, shaved armpits(!) and pubes, legs, ropes cutting into wrists. Beautiful cool brown / grey tonality to print. Lighting is from two sides as can be seen by the shadows formed on the body and the backdrop. Quite a feminine image I feel, with the heavy eyebrows, very smooth ephebe body and the lean of the torso. Print is more tonal than the reproduction in the book.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 75.

Untitled Nude. 1955.

Tanned older (25?) nude man with hanging big cut dick standing in front of graffiti wall. Head back and eyes closed, not engaging with the camera. Tan line of shorts very visible. Beautiful smooth body, and lovely skin tones in print.

Untitled Nude. 1952.

This photograph has much more life than the reproduction in the book. Every hair on his chest GLOWS. The grey of the print is more intense and the print darker overall. The arm of the left hand side of the print is not so blown out and the hands have more of a feeling of suspension to them.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 41.

Male Nude. 1951.

Paper negative? Smooth, young man lying on his back, breathing in, thin waist, arm behind head, looking straight into camera. Backdrop lit by two spots to outline body. Horizontal print with lots of negative space above body. Those eyes really get you and the tufts of pubic hair really stand out in the original photograph. Outline shape is amazing and the reproduction does not do it justice. Real presence. One of the most moving prints yet. It is a privilege to see it!

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 72.

Untitled Nude. 1954.

Young man on left hand side of photograph wearing necklace, ring on right hand, tattoo of rose on right forearm, rocker haircut, looking down and away from camera. Darker figure. Another smooth, youthful male form behind opaque screen has hand reaching for first figure, touching him with left hand. Lighter figure with tattoo on left hand bicep. Print is mid to light grey in its tonality. Very homoerotic.

Untitled Nude. 1952.

Beautiful photograph of a nude young male sitting on a work bench table in a derelict building, 2 windows behind him to either side. His body is very smooth and he has a cut dick. His arms are out behind him on table to support his body which is leaning back. One leg is hanging over edge of table whilst the front leg is raised with knee in the air with the foot resting on the edge of the work bench. The background is lit from the left and the figure is lit from behind and above – great lighting.

Strong use of chiaroscuro and opposite way lighting in later photographs. There are several photographs of men in unmade beds, genitalia showing or face down showing butts off.

Untitled Nude. 1946.

One such photograph shows 2 boys lying in single unmade beds next too each other. The second young man is way out of focus in the background. These are not studio shots any of these. They are much more personal. In this photograph the erect, stiff, nodular end post of the bed is like a metaphor for an erect penis, the opposite side of flaccid one of the young man on the bed nearest the camera. The young man has his one hand on his stomach and the other behind his head, eyes closed, as though he is asleep. Flash or strong lights? Definitely flash.

Untitled Nude. 1953.

Same backdrop but different pose from Plate 61 in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993. Here one of the men has his hand under his chin, arm resting on folded knee, looking down at prone body which is face down beside him. Young man face down has cute butt with tan line. Beautiful tonal print, especially skin tones.

Image No. 141. Untitled Nude. 1942. Acquired GPL 1950.

Beautifully toned photograph of a young man kneeling on a mattress with feet hanging over its edge. Backdrop is lit to give outline and form to shoulders/head and fade into darkness above. His balls hang down between his legs and you can see every hair on them. Young man has a cute butt. Photograph is very erotic, very suggestive of anal penetration, and very about form as well.

Image No. 144. Untitled Nude. 1953. Acquired GPL 07/1955.

Strong image always quoted as an example of GPL’s more direct way of photographing the male nude in the last years of his life. Male is solid, imposing, lit from above, heavy set, powerful, massive. Eyes are almost totally in shadow. Later photos have more chiaroscuro possibly, more use of contrasting light (especially down lit or up lit figures) but are they more direct? Yes. Models look straight into camera.

See Plate 59 in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 103.

Image No. 153. Untitled Nude. 1953. Acquired GPL 07/1955.

Really strong image of older man sitting on edge of bench, cropped mid thigh and under mouth. Image shows hairy chest, arms, legs, cut dick and great definition of abdominals. Tan line visible, skin tones in print are just above mid grey. Really good shadows on stomach, under pecs. Lit from above, softbox?

Image No. 186-194. Untitled Nudes. 1951. Acquired GPL 09/1954.

Whole series of studio shots of male butt and arsehole in different positions. Quite explicit. Some close-up, others full body shots with legs in the air. Not his best work but interesting for its era. Very sexually anal or anally sexual! As in GPL’s work, very about form as well. In one photograph a guy spreads his cheeks while bending over from the waist, in another photograph he spreads his cheeks while standing slightly bent forward.

These are the most explicit of GPL’s images in the collection that I saw, though perhaps not the most successful or interesting photographically. 8″ x 10″ contact print.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 78 for an image from this series.

It is interesting to note that George Platt Lynes photographed his own erect penis as early as 1929, although this photograph is not present in The Kinsey Institute Collection and belongs to The Collection of Anatole Pohorilenko (See Crump, James. “Iconography of Desire: George Platt Lynes and Gay Male Visual Culture in Postwar New York,” in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, p.151, Footnote 19).

I also did not see the photograph titled “Erection, c. 1952,” (See Figure 29 on page 255 of the Hard copy of the Project notes; Crump, James. “Iconography of Desire: George Platt Lynes and Gay Male Visual Culture in Postwar New York,” in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, p.153), while at The Kinsey Institute which illustrates this article. This is the most sexually explicit photograph of GPL’s that I have ever seen but there is no accreditation listed for this photograph in a book which is subtitled ‘Photographs From The Kinsey Institute’. Is this photograph part of The Kinsey Collection and if it is, why didn’t I see it when I was researching there?

Image No. 457. Untitled Nude. 1955.

Man on an unmade bed staring into camera. Tattoo of ‘Chuck’ on upper left arm bicep / shoulder. Older man with tan line and cute butt. Behind is a dark, dark background of a bedroom with a Venetian blind over a window, plant just visible in front of it, bookcase in back right of photo, down light from table lamp highlighting books on side table. Printed down background to make it darker? Man stares straight into camera with a penetrating gaze – presence, engagement, defiance! After sex? Before sex? with GPL? Photograph is blurred so slow shutter speed and tungsten lighting. The white highlights of sheet nearest camera are almost blown out by lighting. Very personal and beautiful photograph placing the male body in bedroom available for sex with another male.

See Plate 50 in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 93.

Image No. 481. Untitled Nude. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

Two young men stretched out, intertwined legs and arms, very sensual pose. Horizontal print. Lots of darker negative space above the bodies. Backdrop lit to highlight body outline – usual GPL trademark.

Image No. 482.Untitled Nude. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

2 smooth young men, ephebes, about 19 years old, one cut off at the waist, leaning backwards and resting on others stomach. Both have blond hair and the young man at front has his right hand resting on his chest, eyes closed. Rear figure has his head turned away from the camera.

See Plate 52 in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 95.

One of the best images in the collection. Very evangelical and homoerotic at the same time.

Image No. 483. ‘Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley and Bradbury Ball’. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

Studio shot of 3 smooth, nude young men in various positions on an unmade mattress bed sitting on GPL’s studio floor. All three young men are intertwined with a white sheet covering some of the bodies and faces. Dark chair in background has clothes lying on it. Lit from above left. Skin tones in print are just above mid grey. According to Leddick, David. Naked Men: Pioneering Male Nudes 1935-1955. New York: Universe Publishing, 1997, p. 21, the names of the models are as above and come from a series of 30 photographs of three boys undressing and lying on a bed together. Image No. 483 and 484 come from the same series as the reproduced photograph.

Image No. 484. ‘Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley and Bradbury Ball’. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

Different pose from above. No genitalia visible. No touching each other. Darker print than above. Beautiful tone of print.

 

M2M sex photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

Image No. 54106-7. M. Koch – O. Reith. ‘Der Act’. Acquired 1946.

Early (1880-1910?) male nude photographs used as models for other artists. 2 older males together supporting the pediment of a Roman column, themselves taking the place of the column. In Image No. 54107 they have their arms around each other. Just natural male bodies, smooth, moustaches, uncut.

Image No. 54112. Anonymous photographer. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept. 05/1961.

VERY RARE location shot of male nudes at baths(?) White nude male laying down, with black man doing handstand on his shins, back to the viewer. In the background is another nude black man, partially visible. Hanging up on pegs behind him are 5 singlets and 1 pair of underwear. Small photograph 2” wide by 4” high. Significant in that the photograph appears to be at the baths, shows interracial nudity and M/M contact.

One of the most significant photographs in the whole collection in my opinion. The sexologists of the era did not collect photographs of gay men and their bodies in social contexts, preferring instead to concentrate on photographs of M/M bodies engaged in sexual acts or physique photographs taken in the studio which generally do not have any context in relationship to the outside world. I know they did not have much of a choice in the material offered to them but surely there must have been photographs of gay men in the park, at the beach lying next too each other. In contemporary research we would embed such photographs within broader situational contexts and theoretical analyses.

Image No. 543-280. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #11. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Image No. 543-281. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #5. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Proof sheet photographs cut up and taped down onto card and the rephotographed. #11 features a solo young man, naked except boots and hat, posing with whip. #5 features natural boys in shorts, shirts, wrestling, one punching the other’s stomach, holding each other just wearing underwear. Really cute, natural bodies and photographs. Some posing by photographer. Lighting obviously just by table lamps or lights, very amateur, but all the more intriguing and interesting for that.

Image No. 55201. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Edina Minneapolis Police Dept., 01/1962.

Small photograph 2″ wide x 3″ high. Interior. Male nude with hips thrust to one side, right leg splayed outwards, smooth, uncut, holding cane in left hand and top hat on his head at a rakish angle with right hand. Backdrop probably a Japanese fabric of bamboo canes. Very effeminate photograph of a young nude man in a bedroom possible (?) – very personal.

Image No. 55202. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept., 05/1961.

Nude man in gaiters (1920s-1940s?), uncut, watch on left hand, drinking from small silver cup which hides mouth. Right hand holds half smoked cigarette. Body has no shape about it at all – really strange. In the background is a standard lamp, skirting board and striped wallpaper. Flash or lamp lit. Personal / private photograph.

Image No. 55203. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept., 05/1961.

Young man, nude, uncut, flattened against interior wall covered with Arabic scene of horses, men and tigers above skirting board and wooden floor. Possibly 1930s. He has a tattoo on right forearm and the most amazing tan line from wearing shorts and singlet. His body has no shape to it at all, he has thin arms and is about 20-22 years old. Really unusual to see such a tan line, possibly from a bathing suit. With the background, I would say it positions this man socially in the upper classes and is interesting for its social contextualisation of the male body.

Image No. 55259. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago 1940.

Photograph one and a half inches square of male nude approx. 25-28 years old, smoking a cigarette, in slip on shoes, standing in front of what looks like army tents with trestle tables inside them. Body is natural, no real shape, smooth, man is smiling.

Image No. 55260. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept., 05/1961. 385971.

Male nude with dark hair, three quarters side profile standing in lounge room. Very Diane Arbus. Table lamp with big shade and 2 tiered side table. Vinyl chair behind. Print on wall is nearly completely hidden, curtain to top right hand side with wood grain wall as well. Beautiful man, serene, calm, relaxed in his own body – ONE OF THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHS. Flash was used as heavy shadow of man outline falls on the wall behind. Body is smooth, hunky but not a bodybuilder. Cut dick. Hands by side. Nice face, smiling, looking at camera.

Really like this photograph as the man is comfortable in showing off his body in front of the camera yet not really posing or puffing himself up. He and his body are aware but relaxed and just so.

Image No. 55042. Anonymous. Nd Acquired O.W. 05/1954.

Small photograph 2″ wide x 3″ high of young nude man sitting in car facing out of the open passenger side door with his trousers down below his knees. Left hand is resting on knee and the right hand is pinned against the seat by the weight of his own body. Uncut dick. Curly dark hair, eyes closed. Car has stick shift left hand drive (American) probably early 1950s. Body is smooth, boyish and young man is about 17-19 years old.

Just before or after sex? Intimacy? Photograph positions the body in an era and specific situation. Was he about to be sucked off? Was he being forced into pulling his pants down and being photographed? I don’t think so from the closed eyes and position of the body within the car. Lover is the photographer?

Image No. 55087. Anonymous. Nd Acquired McG. NYC 1946.

Photograph approx. 7″ wide by 5″ high. Smooth young man, about 18, eyes closed, wavy hair, leaning back on one hand on sandy beach. Right hand leg rests on lower of 2 wooden steps. Right hand rests on knee of right leg. Cut dick. Smiling. Lake in background with 3 sailing boats on it, one with sail up and 2 people in it. Pair of shoes sits on second step.

Beautiful photograph – intimacy, again possibly a lover has taken this photo, and it has some context to it – shoreline and people sailing boats in the background, steps leading to holiday shack? Young man is beautiful, happy and at ease in his surroundings, his company and in his own body.

Image No. 54768-54779. Anonymous. Nd Figure Set 41. 1960s(?)

All photographs 3″ wide x 4″ high. 2 nude men, about 25-30 years old, in bedroom, mirror on front of wardrobe, flowers in vase on dressing table, bed, flower patterned wallpaper, window behind dressing table. One man is hairy and cut, the other smooth and uncut. They are using a measuring tape (in inches) to measure each others necks, arms, chests, waists and calves in this series of photographs. Both men are smiling at each other and at other people off camera and are totally unaffected by the cameras presence in one respect whilst posing for it in another. Flash used. In some of the photographs the smooth man has his hand on the others head (for balance?) No, probably lovers.

Great series of photographs, very natural using built bodies in a bedroom setting (their own?), measuring and showing off the results of their bodybuilding. The images are quite a laugh and they are obviously comfortable and having a good time too! Much less formal than the usual physique photograph and show an intimacy between the two models, plus a context for that intimacy, the bedroom.

Image No. 41601. Anonymous. 1935+-. Acquired 1948.

Annotation: Swedish boy named Gustav(?) Young man in trousers, white shirt, hair parted down middle, holds a Gladstone bag. He is smiling. House in background with women pulling kid along which is blurred in middle distance. Slim, natural body especially arms.

Image No. 41602. Anonymous. 1935+-. Acquired 1948.

Annotation: Took him to baths in Germany. Same young man as above now in a one piece bathing suit, hair wet, slicked back. SLIM, beautiful boy. He is sitting on sand. People lying on beach in background including another boy who is out of focus.

Image No. 41602. Anonymous. 1935+-. Acquired 1948.

Annotation: Met in Navarin Masquerade, 1932. Same young man lying on towel on beach, Gladstone bag behind him. Very smooth young man, very Horst P. Horst model. Wearing a one piece bathing suit pulled down to his waist.

Good set of 3 photographs because it shows this young gay man in a variety of different settings posing for the photographer who he obviously knows from the annotations. Relaxed in his body and his surroundings. Perhaps they are on holiday together?

Image No. 41607/41610. Anonymous. c. 1946. San Francisco. Acquired 1958.

4 guys in various uniforms, table in front of them filled with alcohol. Hands on each others crutches. Second photograph has friends with Navy coats on coming in door. Like stills from a film?

Image No. 41612. ‘Ray Baker’. c. 1946. Acquired 1950.

Annotation: Donny 16-17 years. Bob 25 years. Donny seated, nude, socks on, reading a bit of paper. Bob, standing, hand on Donny’s inner thigh, bent over reading bit of paper as well. Donny is very slim ephebe, beautiful, smooth. Bob is older, hairy chest. Look like a married couple. Very good image.

Image No. 41614. Set of CK. 1950s. Acquired 1953.

2 young men nude in shower, back shot with bums.

Image No. 41615. Set of CK. 1950s.

Acquired 1953. Same young men, frontal shots in shower, very smooth, not built bodies.

Image No. 44224. Anonymous. 1928-1935. Acquired 1961.

2 men sitting on a couch, naked , one with arms crossed looking into camera, smiling, tapestry on wall behind. Older men – 30s? Not young men which is unusual in these muscular mesomorphic photographs. They sit side by side, feet touching, knees touching. Everyday bodies. Good for its openness and body-images.

Image No. 44228. Anonymous. 1935+. Acquired 1947.

Beautiful image. 2 slim young men, one seated, one standing by a pond.

Image No. 44263. Anonymous. 1940s?

Good photograph of 2 older men, hairy, naked, with their arms around each other. No erections. Smiling at camera.

Image No. 44426. Anonymous. n.d. 1950s?

2 young men in bathing trunks, standing, hugging each other on a beach, sea behind. Very good photograph.

Image No. 44526/44532. Anonymous. n.d. 1960s?

2 nude young men, one with arm around others shoulder with the guy on left looking warily at the camera. Natural bodies. Small 2″ square print. Image No. 44532 has them seated, laughing and is a much better photograph, less self conscious.

 

Notes on physique culture photographs and magazines from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

This section includes my research notes on the physique culture photographs held in the collection at the Kinsey Institute by the photographers listed below. It also includes a description of early homosexual magazines held by the Kinsey Institute.

  1. Bruce of Los Angeles: Project notes pages 343-345
  2. Detroit: Douglas: Project notes page 346
  3. Dick Falcon: Project notes pages 346-347
  4. Melan: Project notes page 347
  5. Bob Mizer/AMG: Project notes page 348
  6. Karl Eller: Project notes pages 348-349
  7. Anonymous: Project notes page 349
  8. Al Urban: Project notes page 350
  9. Bob Mizer/Physique Pictorial: Project notes pages 350-352
  10. Physique culture & early homosexual magazines: Project notes pages 353-354

 

1. Bruce of Los Angeles

Image No. 52001. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Grey backdrop. Young man, nude, about 19, with curly wavy blond hair leaning back with arms behind back. Smooth, toned body with tattoo of owl. Good dick sticking straight out with big fat erection. Young man is looking into camera. Diffused (soft box?) lighting. Doesn’t hide his face to hide his identity – quite open towards camera.

Image No. 52002. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Same young man/backdrop. Radio and curtain to right. Carpet floor. Interior of house so shoot not done in the studio. Dressed in sailors uniform with white cap on. Big hands, crossed and clasping each in front of him. Slight shadow on backdrop.

Image No. 52003. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Same young man/backdrop, nude, reading a newspaper while being sucked off by an older man dressed in white shirt with cufflinks, stripped trousers, black socks. Young man wears only socks and lace up shoes, watch on left arm, bracelet on right arm. Must be tungsten lighting because boys upper body is slightly blurred.

Image No. 52004. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Same young man, backdrop. Frontal pose, with hands behind back. Limp, cut dick. Staring straight into camera. Tattoo of hearts and word ‘mom’ visible of left bicep. Wearing black socks and shoes.

Unusual in that this series shows erections and sexual activity within a specific context and environment (the home) and between an older and younger man.

Also unusual is that these photographs are by a physique photographer, obviously not for publication but for private consumption. These are the only photographs that I found during research at The Kinsey Institute that were explicitly sexual in nature taken by a physique photographer.

Image No. 52005. Bruce of Los Angeles. Acquired 1966.

Young man, dark hair, wearing white posing pouch leaning against tree, one arm behind him holding tree, other raised behind his head. Long grass around. Good arms, chest, stomach development. Must have been nearly midday as the shadow of his head is cast onto neck and upper chest. Eyes are closed and looking down, leaving body open for inspection / adoration without challenge of return gaze. Matt surface to print.

Image No. 52006. Bruce of Los Angeles. Acquired 1950.

Annotation: Tom Matthews, 24 years old. Older man, dark hair. Big pecs, arms, tanned, hairy arms and chest, looking down and away from camera. Nude, limp cut dick. Sitting on a pedestal which is on a raffia mat. Metal chain wrapped around both wrists which are crossed. Lighting seems to be from 2 sources – high right and mid-left. Unusual in that this physique photograph shows an older, hairy man who is nude.

Image No. 52010. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948.

Numbered 7-12. 6 small (1.5” wide by 2” high) photographs of older (22-25?) muscleman posing outside near a stream with mountains in the background. Mounted on one piece of card. He wears white posing pouch and has BIG arms, chest, back. Real bodybuilder. Tattoo on right bicep.

Image No. 52011. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948.

Numbered 13-16. Same guy as above now posing with an older blond well built man in 3 photographs mounted on one piece of card. Both posing in bathing trunks using fencing swords as props! Both very big men, arms, chest, lats, etc. …

Image No. 52012. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948.

Numbered 17-20. Blond man from above series posing alone but still with fencing sword. Again 3 photographs mounted on one piece of card. Same location used for all 3 series. I think these photographs dispelled the myth that I had built up that all of Bruce of Los Angeles photography was studio based.

Image No. 52017-20. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950.

Annotation: Lewis Tan, 21 years old and Tom Matthews, 24 years old. Taken outdoors, full sunlight / shadow, mountains in background. Wrestling photographs using same raffia mat used in Image No. 52006. Quite erotic. Posed but usually only arms grasping each other. Not full body contact. Developed bodies, masculine, biceps straining, wearing posing pouches.

Image No. 52021-23. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950?

Annotation: Bert Elliot (stud), 20 years old and Hector De Hoyos, 19 years old. Wrestling, beautiful action shots taken in sand dunes. Both are cute, have dark hair, smooth, tanned bodies and are wearing posing pouches. 8″ x 10″ prints. More full body to body contact in these photographs.

Image No. 52029. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950.

Annotation: Bulldog Football Team. All Married. 3 naked men with dark hair drying themselves after a shower. Bench with cigar a towel on foreground. Location shot using flash. Naturally hairy bigger bodies. Good photograph a la Diane Arbus mould.

Image No. 52062. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950.

Annotation: Dick Fowler 17 years old. Nude, slim body, dark hair with cut dick standing on a beach in front of a water fountain. Typical ephebe. Pylons in background. Strange photograph.

 

2. Douglas: Detroit

Image No. 52068. Douglas photographer. Detroit. 1946.

Annotation: Guy, age 28, Persian descent, Ht 5’10”, Wt 165, skilled factory operator. Hair over whole chest and abdomen shaved off. Posing in nude with trees in background. Triumphant pose with clenched fists.

Interesting to note that body hair has been shaved off before photo shoot. Douglas seems to have photographed a lot of Polish models from the images with annotations that I have seen. His photographs seem to hark back to the more stylised 1930s era.

 

3. Dick Falcon

Image No. 52202. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

2 blond (one slightly darker than the other) haired young men with smooth bodies, washboard abs, limp cut dicks. One young man is standing in water, one sitting on a log. 8″ x 10″ print.

Image No. 52206. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202. Looking away from camera, smooth, washboard abs, limp cut dicks standing in front of a fallen tree. Holding hands – not fully clasped hands but just resting there. Very sensitive photograph. They feel like lovers to me. Small photograph approx. 3″ wide x 4″ high. Very contrasty image. What definition the right hand boy has!! Long and lanky, slim and not big, really toned ephebe.

Image No. 52218. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202-6. Lighter blond haired young man is balanced on one shoulder of other young man.

Image No. 52229. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202-6. Lighter blond haired young man balanced on other man who is on all fours. Blond young man smiling with one arm raised in the air, looking at camera. Other boy looking away. Natural bodies, outdoors.

Strange set of photographs reminds me of later Diane Arbus photographs of nudist camp. Most of this photographers studio work harks back to a more stylised classical romantic tradition.

 

4. Melan

Image No. 52276. Melan. Numbered 298-306. NYC 1940.

Proof sheet of young man at waterfall wearing black posing pouch. One of the best bodies I’ve ever seen photographs of. Tall, beautiful face, abs for days, chest not that big, good arms. Great poses outdoors, sensitive – like to see enlargements! One lying on a rock in a crucifix position. One where he is sitting on edge of rock with feet in water – WOW! Not massively big but what a body and the small size of the images makes them all the more intriguing.

Image No. 54643. Anonymous. Nd (possibly Melan). NYC 1946.

5″ x 7″ print off proof sheet above that I said was the most beautiful body that I’d ever seen! Bad print, bottom half of print loosing its tonality, fogging out. Still a magnificent body, really long legs, amazing stomach. By a waterfall, arms outstretched, cut dick. My attribution.

 

5. Bob Mizer / Athletic Model Guild

Bob Mizer set up AMG in 1945 to photograph male bodybuilders and it is now the oldest male model photography studio in the United States of America. All models in the photographs that I studied were well built, smooth, toned. Lots of outdoor shots! Models are usually quite young (18-22 approx.) Tiny waists and v shaped. For example Image No. 51820. 3 studio portraits of one smooth boy featuring twisted back, arms and torso to great effect. Total v shape. Lots of erotic wrestling photographs from AMG as well.

 

6. Karl Eller

Image No. 51844. Karl Eller. 1949.

Annotation: Ex-German. Unusual shot of male lying on stomach in sunlight/shadow with flowers in hair. Small photograph 5″ wide x 3″ high. Screen behind. Quite sensitive. More an art photograph that just a physique study?

Image No. 51846. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man, standing, back/side on, head turned so looking into camera. Private reflection/moments. Maybe the photographers lover? Flowers in hair reminder of Fred Holland Day’s Dionysian photographs of ephebes.

Image No. 51848. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man looking to left, fontal nude. 2 screens behind, one covered with flowered wallpaper (dark), the other with a leaf design wallpaper (light).

Image No. 51850. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man in a reverie. Much more intimate than usual physique photography.

Image No. 51852. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man in same positioning as Image No. 51848 but hand to mouth in a pensive mood.

Image No. 51853. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man by an open window, nude, uncut dick, sunlight falling on chest, flowers in hair. Head turned away from sun so in shadow. Looking down and not into camera. Must be about 18-20 years old.

This series is using the romantic ideal of the young ephebe. It is much more intimate than the usual physique photography images and I wonder what it is doing in this section of the archive?

Present in The Kinsey Institute collection were a lot more nude photographs than were published. Really, most physique photographers used stock standard poses across the board. An exception to this rule was one of the most interesting series of photographs in the collection. It was taken by anonymous photographer and is described below.

 

7. Anonymous

Image No. 51901-20. Anonymous. n.d. Donated by RES. Acquired 1952-1953.

Fantastic series of studio photographs of several different bodies – some are built bodies and some are not. Black background, beautiful skin tones.

Difference: Close up of different body parts. Butts, chests, arms, cut off heads, arms/legs, just sections … in anticipation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s deconstruction of the body in his nudes. Did he see some of these? Interesting thought! Very art shots of buttocks, torsos. Very tonal like Edward Weston’s nudes or Steiglitz in some of his nudes of Georgia O’Keefe. Image No. 51912 shows close up of veins in arms and hair in armpit. 8″ x 10″ prints.

WOW! for the whole series.

 

8. Al Urban

Much more studio set shots than outdoors. Use of black background or white background. Mainly nudes in The Kinsey Institute collection. There is an occasional black nude (Image No. 53145 from 1949). Most prints are 8″ x 10″ but some, like Image No. 53145, are 3″ x 7″ approx.

Image No. 53247-8. Al Urban. 04/01/1949.

Two dark haired young men, 17 and 18, posing nude, both cut. Both have all over tans, arms on hips, looking at each other, laughing kinda – both bodies ‘ripped’ and toned like you wouldn’t believe! Arms, pecs, 8 pak washboard stomachs, skinny legs. Not big built like a muscular mesomorph or bodybuilder but young men, toned and cut. Amazing definition.

 

9. Bob Mizer / Physique Pictorial

Image No. 52505-9. Bob Mizer. 1954.

Annotation: Used by DA to show intent to exh pvt RCT. Both 4″ x 5″ contacts and 8″ x 10″ enlargements. Series of 12 photographs confiscated by police and used in the 1954 court case by the District Attorney to show intent to exhibit partially erect. What happened in court case? Obviously the charge of exhibiting partially erect did not stick but Mizer lost then won on the obscenity of the male rump: “Not long after the first issues of Physique Pictorial began appearing on the newsstands, the magazine drew the published comment of the columnist Paul Coates of the now defunct L.A. Mirror. Vice officers raided the AMG studio and a case was taken to court which Mizer lost. But the decision of an Appellate Court overturned the earlier ruling and declared that “the male rump is not necessarily obscene.””

Siebernand, P. The Beginnings of Gay Cinema in Los Angeles: The Industry and The Audience. Ann Harbor, Michigan: Xerox Microfilms International, 1975, pp. 44-45.

Although not showing nudes in publications such as Physique Pictorial, private photographs by Bob Mizer heavily feature nudity. Wide use made of projected backdrops – abstracts, leaves, mountains, ships, classical Roman ruins. 4″ x 5″ prints are much better than 8″ x 10″ enlargements. Annotations on back of both size images tell of models jobs and sexual orientation and what they will or will not do sexually if known. Interesting in that these annotations are usually the only thing that places the physical bodies in a social context. Studio shots really have no context. Outdoor shots have slightly more. Commentary helps define social and sexual structures of models.

Image No. 52514. Bob Mizer. 1948.

Annotation: Charles Brant, 20 years old. Tried suicide because wife refused to take him back. 4″ x 5″ contact. Tiled floor (dark), white drapes both sides. Dark fabric backdrop. Ephebe body, smooth, looking right and up and out of frame. Hands held palm upwards and curled fingers, elbows slightly out from sides. Like he’d just cut his arms, or pleading. Did the photographer pose this in an imitation of an attempted suicide? Strong shadow behind – tungsten or flash? Disturbing photograph.

Image No. 52740. Bob Mizer. 07/01/1952.

Great photograph of 3 bodybuilders at a contest. Left hand man seated looking off camera. Middle figure seated looking at figure behind both of them walking out of frame carrying huge trophy. Figure behind smirking at his prize!! To the right and back of photograph is a throne which is really symbolic. 4″ x 5″ contact.

Beautiful. One of the few less posed and more fluid photographs in the collection, shot on location.

Image No. 523-8. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Later photographs such as this have more overt homosexual overtones. Backdrop of projected Italian style waterfront (steps, canvas umbrellas). 2 smooth men, one older, one younger, posing pouches, one held down by the other wearing a sailors cap. Pinned by wrists. Younger man underneath has head turned towards camera, eyes closed in a submissive attitude, very passive. Man on top looking down at his face. Has power over him.

Image No. 523-9. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Same men, looking at each other, smiling, sitting side by side. Young man underneath in last photo has his arm around his “buddy,” both wearing sailors hats. At least 2-3 or possibly 4 lighting sources in this shot because of the shadows at different angles – strong and fill lighting.

Image No. 523-10. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Younger man underneath now face down being hog-tied with the other guy kneeling on his back but upright, showing off his body, over him whilst using rope to tie him up. Good tonality to print, probably 4″ x 5″ contact? Older guy much bigger than younger guy.

Image No. 523-139. Bob Mizer. 27/09/1951.

Image of bodybuilder in white trunks looking down about too lift weights. Guy crouched down over weights on tiled floor. Huge negative black space around him.

Image No. 523-140. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Muscular mesomorph. Big legs, arms, chest, smile, everything!! Posing in black trunks with arms in S shape, fists clenched. Big negative black space around him.

Like the idea of using this large expanse of negative space above models in my own work. Some of his nude and posing pouch models have dirty feet. Walking around outside or on dirty studio floors.

Image No. 523-431. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Two young men with dark hair in posing pouches walking along a train track, one on each rail, holding hands/supporting each other across the tracks. Tanned, built, abs, lats, lovers? Mountains and hills in the background.

 

10. Physique Culture and Early Homosexual Magazines

A. Tomorrow’s Man. Irving Johnson Health, 1952.

B. Body Beautiful. Montreal: Weider Publishing, 1955.

C. Adonis. Montreal: Weider Publishing, 1955.

D. Your Physique. Vol. 1, No. 1. Montreal: Joe Weider, August, 1940.

The first issue is really crude. Headings are hand done and filled in like kids graffiti. Typed content is on A4 pages. Hand drawings also. Only the cover uses magazine paper and it has a photograph printed on it. Cost 15c. The second issue is in a smaller format but is printed all on magazine paper and properly printed. Much more professional. Later editions are back to A4 size.

E. Vim – for Vigorous Living. Vol. 1, No. 1. Chicago: Victory Printing and Publishing Co., May 1954.

Small magazine about 5″ wide x 7″ high.

F. The Greyhuff Review. 1st Edition. Minneapolis, Minn: Directory Services Inc., 1965.

Homosexual magazine. Pictures of lithe, nude young men, articles, cartoons, social comment. “What is Obscenity?” “Discovery: Can a Young Man in a Small Country Town Find Happiness in the Great Big City?” “Is Punishment the Answer? Is There an Effective Way to Eliminate Homosexuality?” “The Public is Watching.”

2nd Edition.
Quotation: “The beginning of wisdom is the realization that there are other points of view than my own. Understanding those points of view is the next step. The final test of wisdom is understanding why those points of view are held.”

G. Der Neue Ring. No.1. Hamburg/Amsterdam: Gerhard Presha, November 1957.

Homosexual magazine.

H. Butch. Issue No. 1. Minneapolis, Minn: DSI Sales, 1965.

Homosexual magazine. Small 5″ wide x 9″ high ‘art’ magazine including nude posing.

I. Der Kries. No.1. Zurich: No Publisher, January, 1952.

Homosexual magazine. Typical photographs of the era in this magazine. No frontal nudity even up to the later 1965 editions. Lithe young men, drawings and articles, including one on the Kinsey Report in the first edition (pp. 6-7).

Some of the photographs in Der Kries of young European men are similar to German naturist movement photographs (Oct, Nov, Dec 1949 – Cat. No. 52423, May, June 1949 – Cat. No. 52452 showing 5 nude boys outdoors throwing medicine ball in the air with their arms upraised).

Also some photographs are similar to von Gloeden’s Italian peasants (July 1952 – Cat. No. 52424, August 1960 – Cat. No. 52425, all 4 photographs in May, Oct 1956 – Cat. No. 52426). The 1949 photographs are possibly taken from earlier German magazines anyway? Discus, javelin, archer and shot putter images. Mainly nudes. George Platt Lynes contributed to the magazine under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf.

 

Baron von Gloeden photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

Young peasant boys, all with uncut dicks, pose (unpretentiously some of them) for the camera. Innocence lost to the Baron, to the camera? Most models ages range from 11-18 years old. There are a couple o f portraits of older men with moustaches in the collection. Usually his photographs are full length portraits against walls using steps, props (swords, tiger skins, fish, hats, togas, flowers, vases). He doesn’t rely on classical props as much as I thought he would – just the form of the body with perhaps a ribbon in the hair, for example. Some are incredibly beautiful photographs and have a distinct presence. Catalogue No.’s 79 and 80 are two particularly good photographs I think. Relatively long exposures can be seen in the movement of dogs and trees in prints.

Catalogue No. 18. #9744. Nd

One of my favourites is not a full length composition but a seated boy cropped mid thigh, legs and body turned slightly to the right, staring straight into the camera. The body within the frame takes up a much greater space within the image than in the other photographs. The young mans hair is amazing.

Catalogue No. 129. ANG #60. Nd

2 nude young men, 14 years old, in country landscape, grasses, mountains in far distance. Both have uncut dicks, one is lighter skinned, the other darker. Lighter skinned one has an arm around the other boy. Darker skinned boy is holding lighter skinned boys other hand and affectionately looking at him What an intimate photograph!! What was he thinking! The darker skinned lad looking at the other boy. Catalogue No. 165 is a cropped version of the above print.

Catalogue No. 167. Nd

Magnificent. 2 naked young men reclining on a tiger skins in a courtyard surrounded by flowering plants. Both have rough hands and feet. In bottom left of print you can see the shadow of photographer and camera(?) This has been retouched to try and remove this.

The 100 or so von Gloeden’s are stunning, mainly 8″ x 10″ prints – contact prints?

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown, Handstand, Santa Monica' 1945

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown, Handstand, Santa Monica
1945
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown Woman Lifting, Santa Monica' c. 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown Woman Lifting, Santa Monica
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown Woman, Los Angeles' c 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown Woman, Los Angeles
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negatives
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown on Platform, Santa Monica' c. 1945

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown on Platform, Santa Monica
c. 1945
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

 

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11
Dec
12

Exhibition: ‘Janina Green: Ikea’ at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th November 28 – 15th December 2012

 

Installation photograph of 'Ikea' by Janina Green at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation photograph of Ikea by Janina Green at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

“It is necessary to revisit what Walter Benjamin said of the work of art in the age of its mechanical reproducibility. What is lost in the work that is serially reproduced, is its aura, its singular quality of the here and now, its aesthetic form (it had already lost its ritual form, in its aesthetic quality), and, according to Benjamin, it takes on, in its ineluctable destiny of reproduction, a political form. What is lost is the original, which only a history itself nostalgic and retrospective can reconstitute as “authentic.” The most advanced, the most modern form of this development, which Benjamin described in cinema, photography, and contemporary mass media, is one in which the original no longer even exists, since things are conceived from the beginning as a function of their unlimited reproduction.”

.
Jean Baudrillard. ‘Simulacra and Simulation’. 1981 (English translation 1994)

 

“To apprehend myself as seen is, in fact, to apprehend myself as seen in the world and from the standpoint of the world. The look does not carve me out in the universe; it comes to search for me at the heart of my situation and grasps me only in irresolvable relations with instruments. If I am seen as seated, I must be seen as “seated-on-a-chair,” … But suddenly the alienation of myself, which is the act of being-looked-at, involves the alienation of the world which I organise. I am seated on this chair with the result that I do not see it at all, that it is impossible for me to see it …”

.
Jean-Paul Satre. ‘Being and Nothingness’ (trans. Hazel Barnes). London: Methuen, 1966, p. 263.

 

“It must be possible to concede and affirm an array of “materialities” that pertain to the body, that which is signified by the domains of biology, anatomy, physiology, hormonal and chemical composition, illness, age, weight, metabolism, life and death. None of this can be denied. But the undeniability of these “materialities” in no way implies what it means to affirm them, indeed, what interpretive matrices condition, enable and limit that necessary affirmation. That each of those categories [BODY AND MATERIALITY] have a history and a historicity, that each of them is constituted through the boundary lines that distinguish them and, hence, by what they exclude, that relations of discourse and power produce hierarchies and overlappings among them and challenge those boundaries, implies that these are both persistent and contested regions.”

.
Judith Butler. ‘Bodies That Matter’. New York: Routledge, 1993, pp. 66-67.

 

 

Fable = invent (an incident, person, or story)

Simulacrum = pretends to be a faithful copy, but it is a copy with no original

Performativity = power of discourse, politicisation of abjection, ritual of being

Body / identity / desire = imperfection, fluidity, domesticity, transgression, transcendence

 

Intimate, conceptually robust and aesthetically sensitive.
The association of the images was emotionally overwhelming.
An absolute gem. One of the highlights of the year.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

Janina Green. 'Waterfall' 1990

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Waterfall
1990
Silver gelatin print on Kentmere Parchment paper, tinted with coffee and photo dyes
58 x 48cm
Vintage print

 

Janina Green. 'Pink vase' 1990 reprinted 2012

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Pink vase
1990 reprinted 2012
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, hand tinted with pink photo dye
85 x 70cm

 

Janina Green. 'Blue vase' 1990 reprinted 2012

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Blue vase
1990 reprinted 2012
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, hand tinted with blue photo dye
85 x 70cm

 

Janina Green. 'Nude' 1986

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Nude
1986
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, hand tinted with blue photo dye
60 x 45cm
Vintage print

 

 

My photographs are always about the past.

The Barthesian slogan, “this has been,” is for me, “I was there.” This series of images of a vase from Ikea consists of silver gelatin prints tinted in different coloured photographic dyes; photographs of a simple mass produced vase – its form the familiar vessel which so dominates Art History. “Ikea” for me is symbolic of the useful homely object and of the ideal home. The vase from Ikea no longer exists. The picture of that vase stands in for the vase that once existed. The photograph can be seen now – at this moment. It will continue to exist in the future. Its representation crosses time barriers.

My photographs are always documentations of a private performance.

Every photograph records what is in front of the camera, but my interest is in the occasion and the complex conditions of the making of the photograph – first the negative then the print. Each photograph ends up being a documentation of my state of mind during this intensely private moment as well as something for other people to look at. Because of changing conditions, every one of these prints from that same negative is different. For me each analogue print is an unsteady thing. They are now relics from another era, as is the vase.

As a counterpoint to the repetition of the vase prints, I have selected four vintage works from my archive.

Artists statement by Janina Green

Janina is represented by M.33

 

Janina Green. 'Orange vase' 1990 reprinted 2012

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Orange vase
1990 reprinted 2012
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, hand tinted with orange photo dye
85 x 70cm

 

Janina Green. 'Green vase' 1990 reprinted 2012

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Green vase
1990 reprinted 2012
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, hand tinted with green photo dye
85 x 70cm

 

Janina Green. 'Interior' 1992

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Interior
1992
C Type print
38 x 30cm
Vintage print / edition of 5

 

Janina Green. 'Telephone' 1986 reprinted 2010

 

Janina Green (Australian, born Germany 1944)
Telephone
1986 reprinted 2010
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, tinted with coffee
58 x 48cm

 

Janina Green. 'Yellow vase' 1990 reprinted 2012

 

Janina Green
Yellow vase
1990 reprinted 2012
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, hand tinted with yellow photo dye
85 x 70cm

 

 

Edmund Pearce Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

Edmund Pearce Gallery website

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19
Sep
09

Review: ‘Climbing the Walls and Other Actions’ by Clare Rae at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 7th August – 27th September 2009

 

Clare Rae. 'Untitled' from the series 'Climbing the Walls and Other Actions' 2009

 

Clare Rae (Australian, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions
Pigment print on Museo Crane Silver Rag
50 x 50cm

 

 

“To withdraw into one’s corner is undoubtedly a meager expression. But despite its meagerness, it has numerous images, some, perhaps, of great antiquity, images that are psychologically primitive. At times, the simpler the image, the vaster the dreams.”

.
Gaston Bachelard.1

 

 

Usually I am not a great fan of ‘faceless’ photography as I call it but this series of work, Climbing the Walls and Other Actions (2009) by the artist Clare Rae is even better than the series by Tracey Moffatt in the previous review.

Exploring activities of the female body in closed domestic spaces these psychologically intense photographs push the physical boundaries of play through the navigation of space. As a child has little awareness about the inherent dangers of a seemingly benign environment so Rae’s self-portraits turn the lens on her conceptualisation of the inner child at play and the activating of the body in and through space. As the artist herself says, “the way children negotiate their surroundings and respond with an unharnessed spatial awareness, which I find really interesting when applied to the adult body.”2

Continuing the themes from the last review, that of spaces of intimacy and reverberation, these photographs offer us fragmentary dialectics that subvert the unity of the archetype, the unity of the body in space. Here the (in)action of the photographic freeze balances the tenuous positions of the body: a re-balancing of both interior and exterior space.

As Noel Arnaud writes, “Je suis l’espace ou je suis” (I am the space where I am). Further, Bachelard notes “… by changing space, by leaving the space of one’s usual sensibilities, one enters into communication with a space that is psychically innovating.”3

In these photographs action is opposed with stillness, danger opposed with suspension; the boundaries of space, both of the body and the environment, the interior and the exterior, memory and dream, are changed.

Space seems to open up and grow with these actions to become poetic space – and the simplicity of the images aids and abets the vastness of our dreams. This change of concrete space does not change our place, but our nature. Here the mapping of self in space, our existence, our exist-stance (to have being in a specified place whether material or spiritual), is challenged in the most beautiful way by these walls and actions, by these creatures, ambiguities, photographs.

Henri Lefebvre insightfully observes, “… each living body is space and has space: it produces itself in space and it also produces that space.”4

I am the (sublime) space where I am, that surrounds me with countless presences.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969, p. 137
  2. Email from the artist 7th September, 2009
  3. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969, p. 206
  4. Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974, p. 170

.
All images by Clare Rae from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions 2009. Many thankx to Clare for allowing me to publish them.

 

 

Clare Rae. 'Untitled' from the series 'Climbing the Walls and Other Actions' 2009

 

Clare Rae (Australian, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions
Pigment print on Museo Crane Silver Rag
50 x 50cm

 

Clare Rae. 'Untitled' from the series 'Climbing the Walls and Other Actions' 2009

 

Clare Rae (Australian, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions
Pigment print on Museo Crane Silver Rag
50 x 50cm

 

Clare Rae. 'Untitled' from the series 'Climbing the Walls and Other Actions' 2009

 

Clare Rae (Australian, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions
Pigment print on Museo Crane Silver Rag
50 x 50cm

 

 

Climbing the Walls and Other Actions is primarily concerned with visually representing my experience of femininity, whilst also exploring aspects of representation that relate to feminism. The project considers the relationship between the body and space by including formal elements within each frame such as windows and corners. Through a sequence of precarious poses I explore my relationship with femininity, an approach born of frustration. I use the body to promote ideas of discomfort and awkwardness, resisting the passivity inherent in traditional representations of femininity. The images attempt to de-stabilise the figure, drawing tension from the potential dangers the body faces in these positions. Whilst the actions taking place are not in themselves particularly dangerous, the work demonstrates a gentle testing of physical boundaries and limitations via a child-like exploration of the physical environment.

Text from the Centre for Contemporary Photography website [Online] Cited 15/09/2009 no longer available online

 

Clare Rae. 'Untitled' from the series 'Climbing the Walls and Other Actions' 2009

 

Clare Rae (Australian, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions
Pigment print on Museo Crane Silver Rag
50 x 50cm

 

Clare Rae. 'Untitled' from the series 'Climbing the Walls and Other Actions' 2009

 

Clare Rae (Australian, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
from the series Climbing the Walls and Other Actions
Pigment print on Museo Crane Silver Rag
50 x 50cm

 

 

Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
Phone: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm

Clare Rae website

Centre for Contemporary Photography 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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