Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham on the Body
by Imogen Cunningham
Publisher's Description
The companion to Richard Lorenz's brilliant monographs Flora and Portraiture, On the Body rounds out his collection of Cunningham's photography, providing a thorough look at her nudes and figure studies. Review
It's hard to imagine a young woman born in 1883, in the middle of the repressive Victorian era, who possessed absolutely none of the prissy, small-minded modesty of the 19th century. But that is Imogen Cunningham at age 23 in 1906, shooting a nude self-portrait in which "the smooth skin of her shoulders, derrière, and legs glows within the darker context" of the weedy landscape where she is sprawled. There is no artifice about the picture, but her pale form is nonetheless transformed into a "floating arcadian Venus," as author Richard Lorenz aptly describes the image. Most of Cunningham's nudes are identified by name: John Bovington 2, Eye of Portia Hume, Jane Foster, Lake Tenaya, as if to say, "I have used this body, but it belongs to its owner." To one nude model she wrote, "Aperture is putting out a monograph on my work, and YOU are in it. I did not ask you because I know that when you are a work of art, so called, you are no longer yourself." This is Lorenz's fourth book of carefully selected Cunningham photographs, and its subject gives it special resonance. (It includes a chronology and a selected bibliography.) In it, Lorenz quotes a last snippet of Cunningham's writing, found among her papers after she died, at 94: "For it is in this inadequate flesh that each of us must serve his dream, and so, must fail in the dream's service." Even into her 90s, Cunningham continued to love and limn the human body, creating uncommonly frank, deeply humane works of genius. --Peggy Moorman
ISBN: 0821224387
Publisher: Bulfinch Press
Hardcover : 160 pages
Language: English
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