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Imogen Cunningham, On the Body

Lorenz, Richard

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ISBN 10: 0821224387 / ISBN 13: 9780821224380
Published by A Bulfinch Press Book, Little, Brown and Company, 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Frank Martignon Bookseller (Doraville, GA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Traces, in an illustrated essay accompanying the plates, Cunningham's interest in the human form throughout her long career. 131 duotone plates; 56 b&w illustrations. Chronology of Cunningham's life. Selected biblio. 168 pp. Fine w/ Fine dj. Bookseller Inventory # 922

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Imogen Cunningham, On the Body

Publisher: A Bulfinch Press Book, Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


This volume presents an overview of Imogen Cunningham's figure studies dating from 1906 through to 1976, the year of her death. Although the majority of the included photos date from the 1920s and 1930s, her later work in this genre continued to be compelling and provocative. An illustrated essay discusses Cunningham's interest in the human form, influences on her work and comparable images by other photographers. Text illustrations include work by a wide range of contempories and the book also includes a chronology of Cunningham's life and a selected bibliography. Imogen Cunningham was a pioneer of 20th-century photography, an artist whose work significantly contributed to the acceptance of the medium as an art form. She devoted her life to her craft and photographed continuously and passionately for over 70 years. Her images of the body explore the human form in great detail: eyes, ears, heads, hands, breasts, feet. The sensuous forms she photographed are sculpted by brilliant sunlight and reveal both the universal and the unique aspects of the body. Many of her images have become well-known and popular icons in the history of art.


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

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