Oct 8 2011: Art Gallery Under Black Light: Images I – IV (c.1938)
As in the previous two groups of images from the envelope of negatives found a week or so on Nottingham’s Cattle Market, these four show documentary reality in a kind of altered state, where the lights register as darkness and the shadows as light. In the first three negatives here we see people viewing paintings in an art gallery, and in at least one of these (that seen above, or number II in the sequence below) there’s a passing resemblance to the general composition seen in Gustave Courbet’s L’Atelier du Peintre (or The Artist’s Studio) of 1855: in fact, it might even pass for a Richard Hamilton rework of that painting, though had Hamilton made such a work, I doubt he’d have omitted the central nude in the way this version does. The date and location of these photographs is unknown (though the batch the negatives come from dates from c.1938, and most show places in London or Paris). As the final picture here shows The Winged Victory of Samothrace in The Louvre, Paris, it’s most likely that all four images were taken in those galleries, probably at one particular time. Who took the photos isn’t known for sure either, though the wrap in which the London pictures were kept had the name S.S. Pan written on it: whether this is a name or an abbreviation for something else isn’t entirely clear, unfortunately.