Daniel Blau is pleased to present Anthropos at Photo London, an exhibition revealing
the human body through physical or political gesture. Movement and gesture have
captured artists’ imagination from time immemorial. The artworks presented here
all share the exceptional ability to capture various form of gestures from posed,
formal portraits to iconic, candid moments. Indeed, this year’s selection includes a
photogram, where the human body had direct contact to light-sensitive material,
impressing its outline on the work. The photogram (nudogram) presented here is
a unique large-scale work by Floris Neusüss from 1964. This photographic imprint
echoes the earliest experiments made by notable pioneers such as Anna Atkins in
their cameraless processes, the work has an inimitable quality and directness.
Photography’s ability to preserve and document was recognised at the point of its
invention. Movement posed problems for photographers due to the long exposure
times required, thus sculpture and architecture provided photographers suitable
subjects. Our 19th century selection includes a spectacular albumen print taken
by James Anderson in 1855 of Laocoön and his sons being seized by snakes. Set
against a black background, the sculpture obtains a strong theatrical presence.
Further 19th century works include Édouard Baldus’ exceptional photographs of
statues in the Louvre as well as the Fratelli Alinari’s work and a selection of works
by Giorgio Sommer of the human casts from Pompeii. Sommer’s photographs
preserve and catalogue the remains of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption from 79 AD,
which destroyed and buried the ancient town along with its inhabitants. These early
works demonstrate the distinctive engagement with the aesthetic gestures in art
and underline the long-standing interplay between the media of photography and
Moving into the 20th century, we explore artists whose work oftentimes
reintroduces historical methods (direct impressions of objects made onto lightsensitised
material) to a contemporary practice: The London-born Adam Fuss’
photogram of a floating baby reflects the aforementioned early photographic
explorations of sculpture. As Fuss traces the baby’s outline and the water’s rippling
movement he produces a unique and evocative work outlining the human form.
Political gestures are best described through examples such as an early work by
Anselm Kiefer from his Occupations series, which is shown alongside various press
photographers, unique vintage prints by Weegee, and finally, a selection of vintage
NASA prints showing astronauts floating in space. Where Kiefer’s work questions
art’s existence and function since fascism, Weegee’s unstoppable urge to capture
life’s (and death’s) dramas shows photography’s outstanding ability to fix instances
otherwise perhaps invisible to the eye. Combining both sculptural and political
qualities, the vintage NASA prints of spacewalks (from the Gemini missions), show
dreamlike moments of human weightlessness.
This selection of artists shows the numerous points of intersection between the
‘political body’ and the ‘artistic gesture’.