Jean Cocteau in bed with a Mask (1927)

Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963) was a French writer, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. An important exponent of avant-garde art, Cocteau had great influence on the work of others.

He is best known for his novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929), and the films The Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orpheus (1949).

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Portrait of Jean Cocteau in bed with Mask by Berenice Abbott, 1927 via

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Portrait of Jean Cocteau in bed with Mask by Berenice Abbott, 1927 via

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Portrait of Jean Cocteau in bed with Mask by Berenice Abbott, 1927 via

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Portrait of Jean Cocteau in bed with Mask by Berenice Abbott, 1927 via

Vintage Photos Featuring Alla Nazimova in “Salomé” (1923)

Salomé (1923), was directed by Charles Bryant and starred russian silent-movie queen Alla Nazimova – the film is an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play of the same name.

The play itself is a loose retelling of the biblical story of King Herod and his execution of John the Baptist (here, as in Wilde’s play, called Jokaanan) at the request of his stepdaughter, Salomé, whom he lusts after.

Salomé is often called one of the first art films to be made in the U.S.  The highly stylized costumes, exaggerated acting (even for the period), minimal sets, and absence of all but the most necessary props make for a screen image much more focused on atmosphere and on conveying a sense of the characters’ individual heightened desires than on conventional plot development.

Alla Nazimova in Salomé 1923, directed by Charles Bryant via

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Alla Nazimova in Salomé 1923, directed by Charles Bryant via

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923 via

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923 via

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923 via

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923 via

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923 via

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923 via

Salomé Dances

A Collection of Photos by Pioneer Ilse Bing (1899 – 1998)

The German avant-garde and commercial photographer produced pioneering monochrome images during the inter-war era.

Her move from Frankfurt to the burgeoning avant-garde and surrealist scene in Paris in 1930 marked the start of the most notable period of her career. She produced images in the fields of photojournalism, architectural photography, advertising and fashion, and her work was published in magazines such as Le Monde Illustre, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Respected for her use of daring perspectives, unconventional cropping, use of natural light, and geometries, she also discovered a type of solarisation for negatives independently of a similar process developed by the artist Man Ray.

She remained in Paris for ten years, but in the shadow of World War II, she and her husband immigrated to New York City in 1941. There, she had to re-establish her reputation, and got steady work in portraiture. By 1947, Bing came to the realization that New York had revitalized her art. Her style was very different; the softness that characterized her work in the 1930s gave way to hard forms and clear lines, with a sense of harshness and isolation. This was indicative of how Bing’s life and worldview had been changed by her move to New York and the war-related events of the 1940s.

Ilse Bing. Beethoven Autograph, Ode to Joy, 1933 via

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Self-portrait by Ilse Bing, 1931 via

Ilse Bing. Leather Gloves, 1933 via

 Ilse Bing. Self Portrait, Canal Saint Martin, Paris via

Ilse Bing. Fountain. Place De La Concorde via

Ilse Bing. Solarized Clocks, Paris, 1934 via

Fantastic 1940s Photography by Carlotta Corpron

Carlotta Corpron was born in Blue Earth, Minnesota, but spent fifteen years of her youth in India. She returned to the United States in 1920 to earn degrees in art education at Michigan State Normal College and Columbia University, and was first introduced to photography in 1933.

Of particular note are Corpron’s early light drawings, made by tracking moving light at amusement parks–radiant images of wild edges and rhythmic lines–and her “space compositions,” which employed eggs and shells. Corpron also made “fluid light designs” examining reflections on plastic materials; “light follows form” studies of sculpture; abstractions of light flowing through glass; and solarizations of flowers and portraits.

Corpron’s experiments with light are among the most intriguing abstract photographic works from her day, sharing as they do the concerns of her predecessors Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, and Alvin Langdon Coburn.

Her work is significant for its inventive and resolutely independent exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of light and space. Wrought from simple materials and the free play of imagination, Corpron’s light abstractions are increasingly admired (source).

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Carlotta Corpron, Solarized Portrait of Ray Ann, 1949 via

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Carlotta Corpron, Ray Ann with Amaryllis, 1945 via

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Carlotta Corpron, Solarized Calla Lilies, 1948 via

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Carlotta Corpron, Nature Dancer, 1943 via

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Carlotta Corpon, Space Composition with Chambered Nautilus, 1948 via

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Carlotta Corpron, Chambered Nautilus with Created Light and Shadow, 1948 via