Werner Rohde, Self-portrait, Silver gelatin print 1926
WERNER ROHDE (1906-1990) Germany
Silver gelatin print, ebonized wood frame
Signed: Werner Rohde 1926 (pencil signature and date on back on photo); inv. 3RMG 1081.27
Photo: H: 6 13/16” x W: 4 15/16”
Framed: H: 16 5/16” x W: 14 3/8”
Werner Rohde’s visual play with the animate and inanimate draws him close to the aesthetics of the surrealists while maintaining a strong alignment with Germany’s new-vision avant-garde. Rohde experimented widely with double exposures, photomontage, perspective and dramatic lighting that reflected his interest in filmic effects. The son of a glass painter (a medium he would turn to later in life), Rohde took up photography during his studies at the Arts and Craft School in Halle. Like Kesting, Willy Zielke and Kretschmer, he participated in the 1929 ‘Film und foto’ exhibition in Stuttgart that remains one of the historical focal points for Germany’s new photographic vision. Despite this early recognition of his work, Rohde fell into obscurity after the war until the rediscovery of his photographs in the mid 1970s.
Rohde’s fascination with the play between life and lifeless, animate and inanimate, has strong reverberations with surrealism. Masks, mannequins and paper models were used in his photographs to illuminate the uncanny. They were also employed in his self-portraiture in which he mimicked his idol Charlie Chaplin. These techniques of visual illusion provided a mnemonic tool for the images of his wife in which she is posed and photographed to resemble a doll or mannequin. In the act of art imitating life, ‘Wachspuppenkopf’ is uncanny in its mimicry of the human form with realistic teeth, eyes, skin and even the unusual detail of small wrinkles under the eyes. The downward angle, lighting and odd doubling of the neckline utilizes standard surrealist methods to infer life and movement.
CARLOTTA CORPRON (1901-1988) USA
Light Cubes c. 1947
Silver gelatin print, patinated steel frame
Signed: Carlotta M. Corpron, Denton, Texas, RM6 #1081.47 (stamped on back)
Framed size: H: 13 ¾” x W: 16 ¾”
Corpron became a teacher at Texas Woman’s University in 1935 and in 1942 she led a light workshop at Texas Woman’s University for photographer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Although he praised her rapport with her students, Moholy-Nagy did not encourage Corpron’s independent photography. More influential on her work was the arrival of Gyorgy Kepes, who came to Denton to write a book in 1944. His interest in Corpron’s work prompted her to produce several series of photographs that were the most original of her career. At his suggestion Corpron experimented by placing white paper cut in simple shapes within a perforated box that was open at one end. When flashlights were shined through the holes onto the paper shapes, interesting patterns of light and shadow were reflected. The resulting abstract photographs comprised Corpron’s “Light Patterns” series.
In her “Light Follows Form” series she extended her exploration of the modeling properties of light to three-dimensional form. In this series, she used light filtered through Venetian blinds or glass to dramatize a plaster cast of a Greek head. She also experimented with solarization, a process in which already exposed negatives are exposed. Works such as Solarized Calla Lilies (1948) convey a surreal elegance, but Corpron favored more original methods of expression. She regarded her “Space Compositions” and “Fluid Light Designs” series as her best work. In the former she used still-lifes composed of eggs, nautilus shells, or glass paperweights, usually combined with a curving reflective surface, to produce an illusion of receding three-dimensional space. She emphasized distortions of form that occurred in her egg photographs by experimentation during the development process. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958) USA
Gelatin silver print
Signed: 12-40. Edward Weston 1935 (pencil below photo)
Framed H: 17” x W: 14 9/16”
Edward Henry Weston was an American photographer, and co-founder of Group f/64. Most of his work was done using an 8 by 10 inch view camera. Weston was renowned as one of the masters of 20th century photography. His legacy includes several thousand carefully composed, superbly printed photographs that have influenced photographers around the world for 60 years. Photographing natural landscapes and forms such as artichoke, shells, and rocks, using large-format cameras and available light. The subtle use of tones and the sculptural formal design of his works have become the standards by which much later photographic practice has been judged.
Ansel Adams has written: “Weston is, in the real sense, one of the few creative artists of today. He has recreated the matter-forms and forces of nature; he has made these forms eloquent of the fundamental unity of the world. His work illuminates man’s inner journey toward perfection of the spirit.”