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.
TIM GIDAL (Ignaz Nachum Gidalewitsch) (1909-1996) USA
Signed: Tim Gidal, self portrait 1930, photograph printed by photographer TG (script in ink on back)
H: 17 7/8” x W: 12 1/16” (framed)
German-born Israeli photojournalist and writer. Gidal studied law, history and art history in Munich and Berlin, and started photography as a Zionist student. His first published pictures appeared in the Münchener illustrierte Presse in 1929. After emigrating in 1933 he lived in Switzerland (where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on photojournalism), the Middle East, and India, contributing to numerous publications. Between 1938 and 1940 he worked for Picture Post, and 1942-5 for the British army magazine Parade. After moving to the USA in 1947 he was an editorial consultant for Life. He later held academic posts in America and Israel. His many books include Modern Photojournalism: Origin and Evolution 1910-1933 (1973).
EUGENE OMAR GOLDBECK (1892-1986) USA
Indoctrination Division, Air Training Command, Lackland Air Base, San Antonio, Texas, July 19, 1947
Signed: Natural Photo and News Service EO Goldbeck © photo (on matting); LR Conner EG 81
Size: H: 19” x W: 16 ½”; Size (with mat): H: 24” x W: 20”
Framed: H: 26 5/8” x W: 23 7/8”
Known as the “unofficial photographer of America’s military,” Goldbeck conducted three-year tours to all of the major military bases in and outside of the United States until demand diminished for military group photos after World War II. He pushed the limits of his craft by working with larger and larger groups in striking designs. For his record setting group shot, in which 21,765 men were arranged to represent the Air Force insignia, he spent more than six weeks building a 200-foot tower and making blueprints of the formation and attire of his subjects. The photograph was subsequently featured in Life magazine and became the most frequently reproduced of his prints.