Tag Archives: photography

RIP Robert “snapshot aesthetic” Frank (1924 – 2019)

Robert Frank was a Swiss photographer, best-known for his photo book The Americans (1958) and his documentary on The Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues (1972).

Three gay men from ‘The Americans’

Of that book, which was criticized at the time with the words “meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness” by mainstream media, a criticism that by the way, became the hallmark of a new aesthetic in photography: the new snapshot aesthetic.

My fave picture of that collection is the photo of three gay men, looking defyingly into the camera. Behind them is a sign which reads ‘Don’t Miss Mister Instin …’.

This particular photo is reminiscent of the work in Naked City (1945) by Weegee, of the photos of Paris de Nuit (1933) by Brassai and is also a precursor to Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin.

And then there is Cocksucker Blues.

Cocksucker Blues pt. 1
Cocksucker Blues pt. 2

Vices he never committed look out of his eyes in a wild revolt

Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat (ca. 1863)

Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat (ca. 1863)

Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat (ca. 1863) is a photographic portrait of Charles Baudelaire taken by Étienne Carjat.

The photo was published in a widely distributed series entitled Galerie contemporaine, littéraire, artistique.

The piercing gaze of Baudelaire has not gone unnoticed. Arthur Symons in Charles Baudelaire: A Study (1920) noted:

In the portrait by Carjat, his face and his eyes are contorted as if in a terrible rage ; the whole face seems drawn upward and downward in a kind of convulsion ; and the aspect, one confesses, shows a degraded type as if all the vices he had never committed looked out of his eyes in a wild revolt.

An encapsulation of queerness and otherness

For years I mistakenly thought that one of my fave visuals, Toulouse-Lautrec Wearing Jane Avril’s Feathered Hat and Boa (ca. 1892, above) was by Nadar.

Today, I learnt that it is in fact by Maurice Guibert.

In the process of finding that out, I discovered two fine blogs. The first The Esoteric Curiosa, the second the enigmatic ACravan.

Lautrec dressed in drag encapsulates queerness and otherness, better than any other photograph.

I’ve previously posted a photo of Lautrec, the delightfully scatological Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at the beach at Le Crotoy, Picardie in 1898[1].