Man-Ray and Others…
This iconic surrealist image of the women with the spherical tears is by avant-garde photographer and artist Man Ray (1890-1976). It is marvellously theatrical, and surreal because it only partly strays away from a plausible reality.
African masks were all the rage in Paris in the early 20th century. The sleeping lady bears a striking resemblance to the mask, breathing life into the inanimate object. Since the now, life like mask has no body, the image suddenly appears surreal.
These next four images are from the fantastic fashion and society photographer, Cecil Beaton (1904 – 1980). His imaginative, quirky compositions have been a source of inspiration for later fashion photographers such as David Bailey and in my opinion, Tim Walker.
Tim Walker (b.1970) brings an element of fantasy to his portraits, infusing the genre of fashion photography, with magic and life.
The photography of Wilfred Thesiger (1910-2003), really moved me when I first came across it at the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford. Thesiger spent his working life in Africa and the Middle East. His photographs capture life in areas which at the time had less contact with the west. His invaluable, beautiful, and nostalgic images suggest a real fondness for the people and places he photographs.
The next four images are from the photographer Steve McCurry (b.1950), most known for his photograph of the beautiful green eyed Himalayan girl.
The two evocative photographs above show Rajasthani women clad in gorgeous saris and gagharas, protecting themselves from the sandstorm. The situation may have been unpleasant for McCurry’s subjects, but it certainly set the scene for stunning images. The ochre sand and soft brown air contrasts beautifully with the colourful clothes and jewellery of the women.
The burdened expressions on the faces of the startlingly beautiful children Steve McCurry photographed in the mountains of Pakistan, betray the weight of the responsibilities they must face at such a tender age. One can really sense McCurry’s humanity in his portraits. Free from pretention, they have the ability to touch the hearts of viewers with a gentle ease.
I included this picture because I cannot believe that such treasures exist in the undergrowth of Mandalay! It fills me with the desire to explore this relatively inaccessible area of the world.
The next series of images are by Brazilian photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, most known for his poignant, and often painful portraits of desperate poverty, injustice and war. They are also tremendously beautiful, the black and white imagery lending a haunting sense of silence to the pictures.
The large, liquid eyes of his young girl so directly convey the injustice and pain that she has suffered, and simultaneously her inner strength and courage. It is a deeply profound image.
This famous scene captures a dispute between miners and authority in Serra Palada, Brazil, in 1986. The working conditions are beyond belief.
And lastly, three images from the artistic Russian genius, Rodchenko. Beneath his constructivist photographs lies a sharp social commentary. The unusual angles he took many of his pictures from were intended to encourage the viewer to observe the works more carefully.