14 June 2021

Watching For Summer With Edie Harper

A white clapboard house with a swing on the porch.  Just a few colors, with a sunny yellow that suggests the title of this serigraph - Summer Watch.  And if you follow the white paw hanging down over the edge o the porch and turn right you will see a sleeping cat with a smile on its face. Like Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat, Harper's cat slips in and out off view.

Harper was a prodigious experimenter in media.  Beyond photography, she excelled in painting and lithography.   Not content with two dimensions, she made pottery, sculpture, and jewelry. For Harper eploring each new technology must have been thrilling.

Except for a ix month cross country honeymoon with her husband, Edie McKee Harper (1922-2010 never strayed far from her Midwestern roots.  She was born in Kansas City, Kansas and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, after studying at the Art Academy there.  During World War II she worked as a photographer for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Edie Harper - Summer Watch, serigraph (silkscreen) on paper, Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH.

09 June 2021

Brazil The Bittersweet: Patricia Leite


From Gertrudes Altschul, a German immigrant to Patricia Leite, a living Brazilian artist (this site last week) images of nature in art.

These paintings shown here are from a series on the Barra do Una, a beach on the Brazilian coast near Sao Paolo, a region that is home to an abundance of biodiverse flora and fauna and rivers and waterfalls along with the littoral.  They are at once a celebration and a reminder of this fragile ecosystem   In recent years there has been profound  damage to its environment through the Barra's growing number of visitors and  the detritus they discard as well as that which washes ashore.

Patricia Leite was born in 1955 in Belo Horizonte, a large city in southern Brazil, and now lives in Sao Paolo, the nation's largest city.  It would seem t academic argument to debate where figuration in her work ends and abstraction begins because blending is seamless. She often works on wooden panels, the better to layer her pigments.   striking contrasts of color 

Images: 

1. Patricia Leite  - Saudade do Brasil, 2021, oil on wood, Thomas Dane Gallery, London.

2. Patricia Leite - Vagalumas, 2021, oil on woo, Thomas Dane Gallery, London.

03 June 2021

Gertrudes Altschul & Fotoclubsmo

"(F)or women, whether artists or writers ... the conditions of exile have especially ambiguous or even ambivalent implications." - Linda Nochlin

That Gertrudes Altschul (1904-1962) would become an internationally famous photographer came about because of what Linda Nochlin called "conditions of exile."

Altschul and her husband Leon were Jewish. When  Leon was forced to sell his hat-making business in 1939 under increasing anti-Semitic legislation by the Nazi regime, the couple left Berlin in haste and piecemeal,  evacuating their son Ernst to relatives in Great Britain, the parents arriving separately in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Finally, in 1941 the family were reunited with their son.  Another version of this story of families being buffeted by World War II is Lore Segal's 1964 affecting fictionalized memoir Other People's Houses.

As in the United States, the many professional people who emigrated from Germany constituted a critical mass that influenced the art scene in Sao Paulo. In photography, to name one medium, Brazilians  began to move away from pictorialism and toward experimental modernist methods that often highlighted form and geometry. 

Gertrudes Altshul  found work making artificial flowers; as part of her new life,  Altschul began photographing and joined the Foto Cline Club in 1952. Her ambitious experiments rivaled those of any make photographer.  She aimed to create images that  could resonate  universally  As subjects she frequently chose stairs, ladders, and construction materials. Filigree represents another of Altshcul's continuing interests, botanical subjects. Soon Altschul earned an international reputation for her work.During the 1950s, club members won prizes on six continents.  Though her pphotogrpahic career was short, it was memorable.

With Filigree Altschul has used the camera to convey an intimate relationship; without wanting to overstate my claim, I see it as a portrait.  This leaf is like no other.
 
The Foto Cine Club Bandeirante was a group of inventive amateur photographers that began in Sao Paulo in 1939. Unusually for the time, the club specifically encouraged women to become members. In These were no ordinary hobbyists. Their photo salons won admiration around the world for originality,  They launched a magazine Boletim foto-cine that appeared on a quixotic schedule and was free to  members and for sale to the public. The magazine fostered an esprit de corps by including information about members' doing,: birthdays, weddings, and club excursions.  Those club excursions were joint learning experiences in the field. There was even an annual visit from Santa Claus.
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 Image: Gertrudes Altschul  - Filigree, 1953, gelatin silver print, Estate of Gertrudes Altshcul