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December 6, 2001

Angus McBean at Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan

ANGUS MCBEAN
Photographs
Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan

6 December 2001 - 13 January 2002

Angus McBean (1904 -1990) was the last true surrealist in the history of photography and one of the most original twentieth-century British photographers. At the end of the '30s he revived a movement that had been repudiated due to the natural evolution of its greatest members.

He was an unusual individual who fit into the rigid schemes of a conservative society for years before rebelling against the system.

He left a steady job with Liberty, the respectable London department store, to dedicate himself to his art, first making papier-mâché masks which were soon appreciated as decorative objects in high society, and later turning to photography.

His rise to success as a transgressive photographer was not easy; a 1940 article in the authoritative British Journal of Photography attempted to dismantle him.

And yet, he was a star portrait photographer, much in demand for his imaginative and fantastic compositions. What was wrong with Angus McBean, according to the traditionalists in photography, was that he violated the rules of composed studio photography, with its lights and backdrops in gentle hues in the taste of his day. His portraits were, on the contrary, dominated by violent and dramatic contrasts. This style, which we now appreciate for its modernity, attracted the great actors of British theatre, tired of being portrayed in stuffy poses.

In 1936, a very young and beautiful actress made her debut on the stage: Vivien Leigh. McBean’s gentle portrait of her veiled in subtle melancholy won Leigh the part of Rossella in Gone with the wind. But Angus McBean not only made innovative portraits, he revolutionised photography. He had a three-dimensional concept of the portrait, which with artful virtue he managed to set in 'scenic' situations. He used sand, papier-mâché columns, seashells, puppet theatres, lovely turn-of-the-century toys and other objects to create sets in which to insert his subjects, often using the craftiest techniques of photomontage and skilful tricks in the darkroom. The result is a highly improbable and fascinating image.

Angus McBean’s work does not attempt to stupefy us and overwhelm us in a maze of surrealistic situations. What he does is destabilise the rules with refinement to encourage adventures of the imagination.   

With a rare sense of humour, Angus McBean manages to reconcile intellectual challenge, sophisticated fun and beauty in images that are truly unique in modern and contemporary photography.

He had such a great influence on the history of photography that in 1983 and 1984 – at the age of eighty – he was invited to Paris to take fashion photographs in his unique style for prestigious magazines.

Angus McBean’s works are rare, precious signed and dated vintage photographs, exhibited with his own descriptions and notes.

Galleria Carla Sozzani
Corso Como 10 - Milan
www.galleriacarlasozzani.org

December 1, 2001

Raoul Dufy de Beaubourg à Lyon

 

On apprend par un communiqué de presse de la mairie de Lyon que le musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville se voit confier par le Centre Georges Pompidou, en dépôt de longue durée, une oeuvre essentielle de Raoul Dufy. Il s'agit du décor conçu par l'artiste pour le bar-fumoir du théâtre du Palais de Chaillot à Paris. Commandé par l'Etat en 1936, peu après la Fée électricité, ce triptyque monumental de plus de 12 mètres de long a pour sujet La Seine, de Paris à la mer . Dominée par les trois figures féminines de la Seine et de ses affluents, la composition déroule un vaste paysage panoramique animé de savoureux détails. Ce décor a été réalisé par Raoul Dufy à l'aide du "Médium Maroger", qui lui garantissait à la fois transparence et profondeur. Invisibles depuis leur enlèvement du Palais de Chaillot au début des années 60, ces panneaux désormais restaurés, retrouvent à Lyon une destination voisine de celle pour laquelle ils avaient été entrepris, puisqu'ils constituent, depuis le 27 novembre 2001 le décor des Terrasses Saint-Pierre, le restaurant du musée.