Friday, April 17, 2009

when three wrongs make it right...

horn and head holder

hornholderhead

victor brauner

the top two images are of a tintype i recently found with three wonderful mistakes...

1. it took me awhile to realize it, but the brace that looks to be part of the horn, is in fact a head brace, the kind photographers used to keep a subject's head from moving during a long exposure. because the brace is almost always invisible behind a subject's head, this is a relatively rare example of a head brace with a prominent presence in a composition.

2. when the photo chemicals are wiped onto the plate for a tintype, the cloudy mass of chemical spill, which here can be seen on the bottom edge of the photo is usually trimmed off as waste. because all of the liquid was active enough to absorb the image, it creates a beautiful twisting and folding, giving the image an ethereal feeling, as if the man was an apparition or hallucination. because of its location at the bottom of the frame, the man seems to have had his legs severed just above the knees. he sits in a beggar's position, as the liquid blur becomes a blanket, as he rests his leg stumps beneath. this area of chemical 'looseness' is also a rare thing to be found.

3. when i noticed the deep scratch below the sitter's right eye, i instantly thought of the self portrait painted by victor brauner with his eye damaged or missing, pictured below the tintype and its detail. when i first discovered the surrealists, i was obsessed with brauner's work because of this painting, and brauner's obsession with his eyes and his premonitions of losing one of them as pictured in a series of self portraits made in the early to mid 1930's. in 1938, brauner's prediction finally came true when his eye was damaged severely during a bar fight from broken glass. he essentially then became a cyclops. perhaps when the sitter of this photo gouged the surface of his own image below his right eye, he too was thinking of a loss that would somehow be part of his life as he moved along into the future...

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4 Comments:

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