Posts Tagged ‘Salvador Dalí’

Books | Horst, Photographer of Nature

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Photographic pattern, (unidentified)

Horst: Patterns from Nature
By Martin Barnes
Merrell Publishing
Hardback + jacket
104 pages
50 duotone illustrations

Its title deviating by only the replacement of an apostrophe and an s with a colon, a new publication Horst: Patterns from Nature focusses in on a little-know series of photographs, nine of which appeared in the final pages of the 1946 book, Horst’s Patterns from Nature, augmenting them with a large number of mainly previously unpublished works made around the same time. The book is an expanded version of an essay by distinguished author Martin Barnes that appears in the main catalogue for the current exhibition, Horst, Photographer of Style at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, edited by Susanna Brown, and as such complements the exhibition, while considerably widening our knowledge of the photographer, his methods, and the breadth of his oeuvre.

Photographic pattern, (Calladium)

Photographic pattern, (Xanthosoma Lindenii)

Barnes’ short introduction, succinctly places the esteemed German-born photographer, the former Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann (1906 >1999) – who later took the name Horst P Horst – into historical context. He provides us with an insight into how, starting out as an architectural draughtsman in Le Corbusier’s Paris office in 1930, taught photography by his lover, the great George Hoyningen-Huhené, Horst rose quickly to recognition and fame, becoming friends with Marlene Dietrich, Nöel Coward and Coco Chanel. Barnes describes how, Horst fled German conscription and was spirited away by Vogue to America, becoming a US citizen in 1943. Best known for his slick studio-lit fashion and beauty images – the sexy Mainbocher Corset (1939) perhaps the most well-known – there is evidence to suggest, Barnes explains, that Horst embraced natural light and organic forms towards the end of World War II, as a way of associating himself with such untainted pre-war German cultural figures such as Johan Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 > 1832). Goethe’s definition of art: ‘Art is Nature seen through a temperament,’ is quoted by Alexander Lieberman, a Horst collaborator and art director of American Vogue from 1943 to 1962, in his blurb on the back flap of the dust jacket of the 1946 Patterns book. The front of this jacket is shown inside the new book, as well as a number of the double page spreads that appeared in it. For comparison, examples of work as they appears in books by other revered, early to mid-twentieth century photographers of nature are included, notably by Edward Weston, Paul Strand and German teacher and photographer, Karl Blossfeldt (1864 > 1932), who Horst acknowledged as an important influence.

Via repetition and mirroring techniques, and some influence from surrealism – Horst also collaborated with Salvador Dali – he pushed nature into the realms of semi-abstract pattern. Helpfully, by showing a succession of images – first the single original shot, then a group of four of these fitted together, the top ones a mirror image of those below, followed by a complete picture made up of sixteen images arranged on the same basic principles, Barnes demonstrates how the complete final images were made up. Some of these, in the run of plates, which make up over two thirds of the book’s content, are very graphic, while others are much softer, prettier, almost dream-like. Somewhat reminiscent of the images one sees in a kaleidoscope, but in square rather than circular format, not all of them are constructed solely from close-up shots of plants. For some the photographer has stepped back, thus changing scale in order to include, for instance, large palms trees, or palm fronds together with architectural details, or sections of a wicker chair.

Photographic pattern, (Prunus Pennsylvania Bark)

Photographic pattern, (Palm Trees)

Horst’s Kodak negative album of 1946, fits into the palm of the hand, and is reproduced at actual size in the new book, along with one of the negatives and a representative selection of the contact prints it contains. Barnes discovered that the negatives used to make the original large prints are not the same as those chosen for the construction of the complex patterned images that became the subject of the new publication. Ever the modernist, despite his respect for classical influences, Horst said of these: ‘[They] are photographs shown in simple repeat. The resulting patterns are immediately applicable to industrial fields, such as textiles, wallpaper, carpets, plastics, glass, ceramics, china, leather, bookbinding and jewellery.’ He went on to explain that they were also a demonstration of how modern design can be achieved through modern means. It’s possible that some of them may indeed have made it to a production line somewhere, but, so far, Barnes has been unable to uncover any evidence of this having happened.

Horst: Patterns from Nature is the end-result of inspired and painstaking investigative research by Martin Barnes, who, as it happens, is also Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A. The images in this book are as surprising as they are beautiful. While the text in photography and art books can sometimes feel like unnecessary padding, here the writing is an integral and indispensable element of the package. Merrell Publishers are pretty choosy about what publishing projects they get involved in, and with obvious relish have gone to town on this slim volume’s production values, reproducing all of the images in exquisite quality duo-tone, spot-varnished on heavy matt coated paper.

All images from Horst: Patterns from Nature
All images © Conde Nast / Horst Estate

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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you.

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Photography | Phi(Leap!) Halsman

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Like Two Erect Sentries,
My Mustache Defends the Entrance to My Real Self

From Dalí’s Mustache, 1954
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos
Exclusive rights for images of Salvador Dalí:
Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me!
Musee de l’Elysee
Lausanne, Switzerland
29th January – 11th May, 2014

Murderer! The anti-semitic Austrian locals shouted at Philippe Halsman falsely accusing the 22-year-old of murdering his father who had accidentally perished while the Jewish pair were on a hiking holiday, far away from their Latvian home, in 1928. He was subsequently sentenced to ten years solitary confinement with hard labour.

Destined to become one of the leading experimental and portrait photographers of the 20th century, born Filips Halsman, aged fifteen he had found his dentist father’s old camera and spoke of ‘a miracle’ happening as he developed his first pictures of family and friends in the bathroom sink. A miracle certainly occurred when, due to the efforts of his sister Liouba, who launched a campaign for his release from prison, gathering support from leading European intellectuals like Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, and Sigmund Freud, he was pardoned in 1930. French minister Paul Painlevé intervened, spiriting Halsman away to asylum in Paris. There the minister’s son, Jean, a scientific filmmaker, immediately gave his new photographer friend the best camera then available, a version of the Kodak 9×12, and began introducing him to the thriving Paris scene. Two years later, Halsman opened his first portrait studio in Montparnasse, where he photographed Marc Chagall, Le Corbusier and other writers and artists, using an innovative twin-lens reflex camera he had designed himself. Staying in the city for ten years, where he worked in fashion for Vogue, he also produced images for the early reportage magazines,Vu and Voilà, in 1940 as Paris was about to fall he fled the Nazis and moved to New York having obtained an emergency visa through the intervention of Albert Einstein.

Cover of the magazine Life with a
portrait of Marilyn Monroe jumping

November 9, 1959
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos

Another image from the Life session
Marilyn Monroe, 1959

©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos

Working for Life – for which he shot 101 covers, before the magazine ceased publication in 1972 – and most major magazines in America and elsewhere, including Look, Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post and Paris Match, Halsman came into contact with famous celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Duke Ellington, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank Sinatra, and Richard Nixon, to name but a few. His work also appeared in advertisements and publicity for clients like Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, NBC, Simon & Schuster, and Ford. Having been elected as first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, he led the fight for photographers’ creative and professional rights, his photographic work winning him international recognition, in 1951 he was invited to join Magnum Photos to join as a ‘contributing member’, allowing the agency to syndicate his work outside the United States. A poll conducted by Popular Photography, in 1958, named Halsman one of the ‘World’s Ten Greatest Photographers’ alongside Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Ernst Haas, Yousuf Karsh, Gjon Mili, Irving Penn, and Eugene Smith.

In Paris, Halsman had studied the work of other artists and photographers, especially the surrealists, from whom he learned to make images that surprised his viewers. On meeting Salvador Dali In New York, in 1941, he embarked on what would become a thirty-seven-year collaboration with the artist that resulted in a continuos flow of highly creative, experimental, and often bizarre images up until the year before his death in 1979. These included some of Halsman’s most celebrated pictures: Dalí Atomicus and the Dalí’s Mustache series – technical masterpieces that not only challenged him, but pushed the boundary of photography to its limits. But often his simplest inventions such as ‘jumpology’ – in the early 1950s, he began asking his subjects to leap in the air for his camera at the conclusion of each sitting – would generate unique and equally surprising pictures. Witty and energetic images, offering a natural, spontaneous portrait of his subjects are an important part of his photographic legacy.

Dalí Atomicus, 1948
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos
Exclusive rights for images of Salvador Dalí:
Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

The Versatile Jean Cocteau, 1949
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos

Artists, Dali, Dance, Entertainers / Men, Entertainers / Women, The Frenchman, Jumps, Marilyn Monroe, Musicians, New Year’s Cards, Nudes / Experimental, Paris 1930s, Politicians, Writers… the categories listed on the Halsman website bear witness to the vast range of the photographer’s work. Each image featured is testimony to the thought, the humour, and the hard work he invested in everything he produced. His picture books, among them, Unknown Halsman, Dali’s Moustache, Halsman at work, Portraits, Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas and Jump Book serve to illustrate the photographer’s prodigious output.

The exhibition Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me! retrospective showcases the photographer’s entire career for the first time, from his beginnings in Paris in the 1930s to the tremendous success of his New York studio between 1940 and 1970. It includes 300 images and original documents, and is intended to shed new light on the work of the photographer. Produced by the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, in collaboration with the Philippe Halsman Archive, it will afterwards be installed at Paris’s Jeu de Paume (13th October 13, 2015 – 14th February, 2016), and presented at the Kunsthal Rotterdam (24th February – 5th June , 2016), before being shown in venues in Barcelona and Madrid.

Two versions of the exhibition catalogue are being published: Philippe Halsman, Etonnez-moi!, in French from Editions Photosynthèses, and Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me!, in English version from Prestel Publishing.

All photographs by Philippe Halsman
Courtesy Musée de l’Elysée

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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Auction | Playing with the Female Form

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Modern & Contemporary Photographs
Hotel Drouot, Paris, France
Auction: 30th October, 2013
Private previews: by appointment until 25th October, 2013
Exhibition: Hotel Drouot
29th October & 30 October, 2013

Above, Purple Nude. Erwin Blumenfeld, New York, 1940

Distorsion #159. Andre Kertesz, Paris, 1933

The works about to go on show in Centre Pompidou’s Surrealism & the Object (30th October 2013 – 3rd March 2014) demonstrate that objects were the main preoccupation of the surrealist movement. The human body was another, but often, as in Man Ray’s photograph The coat-stand (1920) – one of the exhibits – the body, almost invariably female, was itself objectified.

Ray’s image of Jean Cocteau, showing the artist with his sculpture Débourre-pipes (1928, not shown), the floating, decapitated head of a woman sculpted in wire, is one of almost 300 lots in a varied sale of Modern & Contemporary Photographs at Hotel Drout in Paris, in which an array of early travel photography, modernist interiors, Parisian and American street life, glamour portraits, and portraits of a good number of other famous artists, will be auctioned.

A total of 44 photographs by André Kertesz, from a Swiss collection, exude a strong presence amongst the list of lots. In 1930, Carlo Rim, the editor of the magazine VU, asked Kertész to take his portrait. Kertész, who was already experimenting with distortion, persuaded Rim to do it at the hall of distorting mirrors at Luna Park fun fair in the Bois de Boulogne. Shortly after, a pair of portraits of Rim – one with an overly tapered body, the other making him appear dwarfed – appeared together in VU.

The idea of using distortion in art probably had its genesis in the African and Polynesian wood carvings that had begun to appear in Europe in the late 19th century, the influence of which was absorbed and first exploited by Picasso and later by, among others, Henry Moore, as well as the surrealist sculptor, Giacometti. For many artists, exploring distortion was also a way of dealing with the atrocious mutilations that were the legacy of the Great War.

During the early years of the new century, women had begun to demand, and had won, greater freedom for themselves. Parisian women, during the 1920s, were the first to be released from the corset by Coco Chanel and, in the same decade two-piece bathing costumes, which were little more than a bra and skimpy shorts set, began to appear on the French Riviera. Nudes, as the subjects of ‘tasteful’, artistic photography were becoming less taboo, which led to magazine editors in France becoming more daring. And, impressed by the distorted portraits he saw in VU, the editor of the rather racy Le Sourire (Smile) magazine asked Kertész to make a series of distorted nude images of two female models. However, the editor didn’t – or was not allowed – to publish them, and it wasn’t until 1976, when they appeared in the book André Kertész Distortion (Editions du Chêne Paris), that they became one of the photographer’s most famous series. A number of images from this series, including the bizarre and disturbing Distortion #159, (above), and some of Kertész’s earlier, experimental prints are also included in the sale.

Les Jeux de la Poupée. Hans Bellmer, 1935

Nu blanc. Jeanloup Sieff, Paris, 1967

Gog et Magog. Pierre Molinier, c 1965

As a child, in Germany, Hans Bellmer, (1902-1975) found refuge from an oppressive family atmosphere in a secret garden decorated with toys and visited by young girls, who joined in sexual games. In the 1920s he became involved with the Dada movement, and in 1933, built his life-sized Puppe (Doll) sculpture, a representation of his yearning to escape from the reality of Nazi Germany. In 1934, he published ten photographs of this work accompanied by a prose poem in which he demonstrated how the seemingly innocent pastimes of his childhood had developed into the sexual fantasies of an adult. Acclaimed and adopted by the Parisian surrealists in 1935, he published a French translation of Die Puppe – La Poupé. That summer he altered the sculpture giving it ball-joints to allow for increased mobility – the stomach became a large sphere around which two pelvises could be articulated, each with its own legs and feet – pushing it into the area of distortion. The auction includes a hand-tinted print, made in 1970, entitled Les Jeux de la Poupée (1935, above), and dedicated to Man Ray.

Meanwhile, in a theatrical form of distortion, former landscape painter, who quickly turned to fetishistic/erotic photography, Pierre Molinier’s (1900-1976) Gog et Magog photomontage (1965, above) typically, placing her in a sexy stage set, removes his model’s body, reducing her to a head at the crux of four stockinged legs, each terminating in patent and pointed stilletto-heeled shoes. With something akin to Molinier’s staging, for Jean Paul-Goude’s Grace Jones Revised and updated (1978, not shown, a print is included in this sale), each of the black singer’s limbs, as well as her neck, are slimmed down, stretched and given a highly-polished finish, so that she resembles a life-size, semi-naked, art-deco-inspired, carved mahogany figure.

Nude. Weegee (aka Arthur H Fellig) New York, c 1940

One of the surprises in the Hotel Drout event is a sensitive nude study (above), shot in the studio around 1940, by Weegee (aka Arthur H Fellig) – better known for his stark black and white New York street scene photojournalism. In the 1950s Weegee experimented with distortion, producing nudes, including Nude (easel trick and plastic lens) c 1953-6, which appeared in the book Weegee’s Women, (Showplace, first published, July 1956), in which the model appears to have extremely long, giraffe-like legs, and Marilyn Monroe (plastic lens) c 1960, where a beautiful initial image of MM pursing her lips, eyes closed, as if waiting for the camera to kiss her, is altered in a succession of distortions, rendering her unrecognisable.

Rare examples of male distortion, two of Philippe Halsman’s (1906-1979) famous images of Salvador Dali (not shown), from the photographer and artist’s 1954 collaboration ‘Dali’s Mustache’, will also go under the hammer.

Lot #175, Jeanloup Sieff’s (1933-2000) thin, twisted and angular Nu blanc (1967, above) might be a template for the figure of the modern woman that has proliferated via women’s fashion magazines since the 60s, whereas Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) who is represented in the sale by Purple Nude (1940, top) proves that the visual dismemberment of a female model need not invoke feelings of revulsion, but rather that by careful and sympathetic reconstruction, a sphisticated image of subtle and elegant female beauty can be created.

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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Art | Savador Dalí’s ‘FruitDalí’ Series

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Impressionist and Modern Art
London, UK
Sale: 18th June, 2013

Fourteen Salvador Dalí originals, exhibited just once since they were commissioned in 1969 by publisher Jean-Paul Schneider, are expected to fetch £40,000-70,000 each at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale in June.

At first glance, the paintings could be mistaken for conventional decorative prints, but for the ‘FruitDalí’ series, Dali appropriates traditional nineteenth century botanical lithographs, painting over them and adding characteristically fantastic embellishments.

Anyone who has ever drawn a pair of spectacles on a face in a newspaper or magazine photograph will recognise the spirit in which Dalí subverts the every day original subject matter, sometimes, as in Erotic grapefruit, imbuing it with an overtly sexual charge, while elsewhere he creates a metamorphorsis of vegetable and human that brings to mind Edward Lear’s (1812-29) more bizarre work, or those of Swiss children’s book illustrator, Ernst Kreidolf (1863-1956).

Salvador Dalí images from top
Prunier hâtif (Hasty Plum), 1969
Gouache over 19th century botanical lithographs

Fruits troués (Pierced Fruit), 1969
Gouache over 19th century botanical lithographs

Pamplemousse érotique (Erotic Grapefruit), 1969
Watercolour, gouache and 19th Century stipple engraving

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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Art | Gunter Sachs’ Work & Play

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The Gunter Sachs Collection, Evening Auction
Exhibition: 18th – 22 May
22nd May, 2012
Sotheby’s, London, UK

At about this time last year Gunter Sachs pointed a gun at his head, shot and killed himself.
‘Farewell, Gunter Sachs,’ wrote Simon Mills in British GQ magazine, ‘You were the last of the true playboys. You slept with Bardot, your white trousers were tight, your hair was fabulous… and you never worked a single day in your life.’ Sachs, born in 1932, was 78 years old and probably had Alzheimer’s. The renowned German playboy who famously courted then married
Brigitte Bardot – the 2nd of his three wives – in Las Vegas, contrary to the above, took his work as a photographer, documentary film-maker, author and industrialist seriously. Sachs left behind three sons – one from his first marriage, two from his third – and a sizeable collection of modern art, which will shortly go under the hammer at Sotheby’s, London.

While Sachs’ taste in women was narrow – they had to be glamorous and sexy – he was at various times closely associated with Iranian consort Soraya Esfandiary, as well as model Claudia Schiffer – the art he collected, at least in terms of genre, was catholic. The 300 artworks and objects to be sold span surrealism, nouveau realism, pop art, art deco and graffiti. Andy Warhol, César, Arman, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Allen Jones, are all represented. True to form, however, a good number of the pieces, portray nude or semi-nude women.
The source of Sach’s wealth had been his maternal great-grandfather, Adam Opel, who had founded the German car manufacturing company, but he also inherited money from his father, Willy, when in 1958 Willy, a supplier of parts to the motoring industry – once accused of fraternising closely with senior Nazis, but later redeemed – chose the same method of suicide as his son. That same year, after a car crash, Gunter’s first wife had also died.

Sachs had met Andy Warhol – whose work he introduced to Germany – in the early 60s at St Tropez and the two became life long friends. He opened galleries in Munich and Hamburg in 1971. Referring to his father’s 1972 Warhol show,
Sachs’ eldest son Rolf, in an interview with The Guardian, recalled: ‘Nothing sold. My father was highly embarrassed, and he bought most of the exhibition himself – which was of course the best investment he ever made.’

From top
Andy Warhol
Gunter Sachs, 1972
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

Richard Avedon
Brigitte Bardot, Hair by Alexandre, Paris Studio,
Photographed in 1959
Gelatin silver print

Tom  Wesselmann
Great American Nude #51, 1963
Oil and collage on canvas, in three parts

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