The Queen of the Lesser Lands

Marie Von Bruenchenhein-Eugene Von Bruenchenhein circa 1945
Marie Von Bruenchenhein-Eugene Von Bruenchenhein circa 1945

The self taught artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein worked in a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, sculpture (using chicken bones) and photography, all of which adorned the modest house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that he lived in for forty years with his wife and muse, Marie.

Eugene’s marriage to Evelyn Kalka in 1943 (he re-named her Marie) seemed to have ignited a creative spark. Over the next two decades he would photograph Marie thousand of times, as a pin-up girl, tropical tourist, vixen, Madonna. Bedecked with pearls, clunky fetish heels, lurid leopard prints against florid wall coverings, Marie looks wistfully upwards, awkward and gauche. The photographs are simultaneously curiously innocent and charged with an subterranean current of obsessional eroticism. Marie at times seems like a  harbinger of Cindy Sherman, assuming and thereby questioning a number of manufactured female roles.

Eugene was convinced that he was descended from royalty and was the self-styled King of the Lesser Lands. Undoubtedly he saw Marie as his Queen in the fantasy world they had created, she is frequently wearing a crown that he fashioned out of tin cans.

Dreams of Desire 54 (Written on the Body)

heinz-hajek-halke-german-experimental-photographer-10[1]
Heinz Hajek-Halke
The German photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke concentrated almost entirely on montage techniques. Influenced by the great Dada and Surrealist innovators of the 1920’s and 30’s he experimented with solarisation and camera-less photographs. During WWII he turned to photographing small animals for scientific publications. The 1950’s however saw Hajek-Halke returning to experimental photography; he joined the fotoform group and participated in two of the groups subjektive fotografie exhibitions, becoming one of the few photographers to be involved in the avant-garde of different generations.