Ode to Necrophilia

Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962

The startlingly titled and utterly bizarre photo-series Ode to Necrophilia by Hungarian-Mexican photographer Kati Horna, featuring as a model the brilliant Leonora Carrington, was published in the short lived but innovative Mexican avant-garde magazine S.NOB in 1962.

Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Hungary in 1912, Horna lived in Berlin and Paris before moving to Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War where she was empoyed as the official photographer for the CNT-FAI. Her groundbreaking war photographs that intimately portrayed the effects of the conflict on the civilian population was frequently featured in Spanish Anarchist journals Umbral and Tierra y Libertad as well as internationally. In 1939 she fled with her husband the Spanish anarchist José Horna, first to Paris then to Mexico. Mexico was the first choice for a number of left-leaning artists and intellectuals escaping Europe’s nightmare slide into fascism. It was here that she met Remedios Varo, the wealthy art patron Edward James, Benjamin Peret and later Leonora Carrington.

S.NOB was founded by literacy radicals  Salvador Elizondo and Juan Garçia Ponce and featured works by the Mexican avant-garde and European emigres with Edward James helping with funding to ensure artistic freedom. It ran for seven issues in 1962.

Below is a selection of images from the series. A quick note regarding the umbrella, which would appear to refer not only to Lautreamont’s famous dictum in Les Chants De Maldoror, ‘As beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table’, but also to one of her many outstanding photographs of the Spanish Civil War, Rally at Via Durutti, which I have also included.

Rally at Via Durutti-Kati Horna 1937
Rally at Via Durutti-Kati Horna 1937
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962
Ode to Necrophilia-Kati Horna 1962

 

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “Ode to Necrophilia

  1. A startling theme of loss, suffering, and displacement captured by K. Horna. Most interesting is the role of muse by the beautiful surrealist painter Leonora Carrington who impressively captures the role of the mourning woman. Remarkable post Mr. Cake.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It surely is, I find the photograph of the woman on the bedside holding the umbrella with a cigarette between her fingers especially compelling. I failed to mention how much I love the Rally, fascinating.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They is really is a lot to take in, the photographs contain so many details hiding in plain sight. Although morbid it is extraordinarily poetic. I had to include the rally though I rather shoe horned it in.

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      3. I’m glad you did, it deserves to be displayed. As you point out there are many small details that are very intriguing. One needs to examine these photographs carefully or miss some extraordinary and brilliant details.

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  2. An outstanding discovery! The series is fascinating. With such a title, I was a little afraid to look but in good Surrealist fashion, there is more in what we don’t see than what we do. My favorites of the series are the first (figure in black) and fourth (nude figure bent over). The natural light from the window is the perfect caster of shadows. There are subtle reflections in all the shiny surfaces too – I like that detail. But The Rally is a stunning photo as well. Such a great find! Love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lily, the title does induce a sense of trepidation but the series confronts and assuages our fears. The mourning robes are very eerie and Leonora is a perfect model, mature and with gravitas. I am stunned by my discovery of this photographer frankly and I agree the Rally at Via Durutti is brilliant.

      Liked by 1 person

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