Dreams of Desire 54 (Written on the Body)

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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.

Dreams of Desire 52 (Raoul Ubac)

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Raoul Ubac-Sleeping Nude 1939
The German born photographer and artist Raoul Ubac settled in Paris in the early 1930’s and under the influence of Man Ray promptly embraced Surrealism and its techniques, particularly solarisation and collage. During the course of the 1930’s Ubac explored the boundaries of experimental photography with his bold and radical innovations. In The Battle of the Amazons  and The Triumph of Sterility (featured below) Ubac took a solitary female nude figure and created a photo-montage before subjecting the print to the technique of virage  (toning: where different chemicals are substituted for the silver salts during the development) to achieve  startlingly different results from a single source image, some verging on the edge of abstraction and in the process subverting the notion of photography’s unquestioned realism.

Dreams of Desire 51 (Erwin Blumenfeld)

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Erwin Blumenfeld-Nude 1939
Erwin Blumenfeld was one of the most celebrated fashion photographers of the 20th Century, renowned for his vivid and innovative colour photography  that graced the cover of Vogue more times than any other photographer before or since. He was also a member of the German avant-garde, a close friend of the savage Berlin Dadaist Georg Grosz (see Eclipse of the Sun) whose techniques of photo-montage and collage he used throughout his career. His discovery of Man Ray shaped his earlier black and white nude photography leading Blumenfeld to experiment with solarisation and double exposure.

With Hitler’s rise to power, Blumenfeld, a Jew, moved to Paris in 1936 where he was discovered by Cecil Beaton who got him a job at French Vogue, however he was soon on the move again with the Nazi invasion of France, this time to America. In the United States he continued his connection with Vogue which allowed him to pursue his lifelong obsession with photographing beautiful women away from the genocidal horror of a war-torn Europe. It has been remarked that Blumenfeld found shame thrilling and he certainly instilled that sense of illicit eroticism into his images.