Alfred Gescheidt: the Charlie Chaplin of the camera

http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/

Della serie: un po’ di storia non fa mai male. Nella nostra epoca ormai super tecnologizzata, molti processi artigianali e manuali rischiano di andare persi. E questo vale anche nel campo della fotografia: il computer sta andando a sostituire tutti quei procedimenti che prima avvenivano in camera oscura. Ma d’altra parte, da lì tutto ha avuto origine, no? Solo grazie ai primi esperimenti manuali siamo arrivati a sviluppare le potenti tecnologie che abbiamo a disposizione ora. Ecco perché oggi ho deciso di iniziare a ripercorrere questa storia, partendo da Alfred Gescheidt (1926-2012), un maestro in montaggio, collage, doppia esposizione, ritocco manuale, il cui nome purtroppo è stato per anni ignorato da molti. (Per questo, di alcune opere non ho trovato la data, perdonatemi!)

Howard Chapnick, della Black star photo agency, è stato il primo a definirlo surrealista e l’ha ritenuto addirittura superiore a Man Ray, per la sua “pazzia, stravaganza, humour e ingegno”. Descritto dal photo editor del New York Times John Durniak come “il Charlie Chaplin della macchina fotografica”, Gescheidt, fotografo newyorkese, ha dato vita a fotografie uniche, satiriche, a volte “allucinogene”. Dopo aver prestato servizio militare durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale, all’Università di Albuquerque scoprì Henri Cartier-Bresson e Paul Strand e decide che la sua carriera sarebbe stata la fotografia. Successivamente si trasferì alla Art Center School di Los Angeles, dove i suoi mentori George Hoyningen-Huene e Will Connell lo introdussero a tecniche più sperimentali: creò i suoi primi collage.

1951 http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/
1951
http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/
http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/
http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/
http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/
http://higherpictures.com/exhibitions/alfred-gescheidt/

Professionalmente, il suo esordio fu nel fotogiornalismo, per la rivista Life; tuttavia, il lavoro non era soddisfacente per lui, quindi decise di aprire uno studio in cui si occupava di pubblicità, e iniziò a sviluppare il proprio stile personale. Libero di scatenare la propria creatività e immaginazione, Gescheidt ha dato vita ad immagini a dir poco originali, che lasciarono esterrefatti tutti i suoi colleghi fotografi professionisti. Forse non è mai stato considerato un artista a pieno titolo perché si è dedicato alla pubblicità, che per tradizione non rientra nelle “belle arti”. Tuttavia, le sue immagini hanno una grande energia e un grande potere. Sono perlopiù satiriche, umoristiche, divertenti, ma alcune campagne ebbero un forte effetto di sensibilizzazione sul pubblico americano, come la campagna 30 ways to stop smoking (1964). Queste fotografie sono state esposte nel 2013 alla Galleria Higher Pictures di New York. Ebbe un successo clamoroso il poster Ronbo (1985) in cui Gescheidt combinò la testa di un sorridente Ronald Reagan con il corpo del cinematografico Rambo. Nel 2010 il poster è stato incluso nella mostra organizzata dalla Biblioteca del Congresso Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture. Da ricordare la sua collaborazione, negli anni ’80, con la American Postcard Co.: sono memorabili le cartoline con i gatti!

Alfred Gescheidt, 30 ways to stop smoking, 1964, Surrealist photography
Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964
http://visionfield.blogspot.it/
Alfred Gescheidt, 30 ways to stop smoking, 1964, Surrealist photography
Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964
http://visionfield.blogspot.it/
Alfred Gescheidt, 30 ways to stop smoking, 1964, Surrealist photography
Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964
http://visionfield.blogspot.it/
Alfred Gescheidt, 30 ways to stop smoking, 1964, Surrealist photography
Cigarette smoker (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964
higherpictures.com
Alfred Gescheidt, Mrs.Ronbo, 1985, collage, Surrealist photography
Mrs. Ronbo, 1985
myfavouritefunnypostcards.blogspot.com
Alfred Gescheidt, Ronbo, 1985, collage, Surrealist photography
Ronbo, 1985
www.cardcow.com
Alfred Gescheidt, Cat postcard, collage, Surrealist photography
Cat postcard, 1982
www.etsy.com

Presto dedicherò qualche articolo alle particolari tecniche utilizzate da Gescheidt e da altri fotografi della sua generazione, quindi…Stay tuned! 😉

Alfred Gescheidt, photo montage, Surrealist photography
1965
http://visionfield.blogspot.it/
Alfred Gescheidt, photo montage, Surrealist photography
1967
www.pinterest.com
Alfred Gescheidt, photo montage, Surrealist photography
1973
www.pinterest.com
Alfred Gescheidt, photo montage, Surrealist photography
Strange roommates, 1965
oldtimeycats.com
Alfred Gescheidt, photo montage, Surrealist photography
1968
http://higherpictures.com/
Alfred Gescheidt, photo montage, Surrealist photography
1970
http://visionfield.blogspot.it/

 

Of the series: a little bit of history never hurts. In our super-technologized time, many artisan and manual processes risk to be lost. This is valid also for photography: computer is going to substitutes all those procedures which took place in the darkroom. Anyway, only thanks to the first manual experiments we have developed our powerful technologies. That’s why I have decided to recall this history, started from Alfred Gescheidt (1926-2012), master in montage, collage, double exposition, manual retouch, whose name has been ignored for years. (For this reason, I haven’t found the date of some works, sorry!)

Howard Chapnick, of the Black star photo agency, has been the first one who has indicate him as Surrealist and he has held him superior to Man Ray, for his “ingenuity, madness, outrageousness and humor”. Once described by former New York Times photo editor John Durniak as “the Charlie Chaplin of the camera”, Geischeidt amassed a rich body of photographic work that was unique, satirical, idiosyncratic and at times even hallucinogenic. After completing military service during the World War II, he discovered Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Strand at the University of Mexico in Albuquerque and decided photography was the career for him. He subsequently transferred to the Art Center School in Los Angeles where he studied under Will Connell and George Hoyningen-Huene, who introduced him to more experimental work and techniques, and it was here that he created some of his first photo collages.

Professionally, he started in photo journalism, for Life magazine; but he found it unfulfilling, so he opened his own studio and focused on advertising photography, and developing his own style. Free to unleash his creativity and imagination, Gescheidt created certainly original images, which left many of his fellow professional photographers baffled. Maybe, he hasn’t been considered a fully fledged artist because he worked for advertising, which traditionally is not considered as “fine art”. Anyway, his images have a strong energy and power. They are satiric, humorous, funny, but some campaigns had had a great consciousness effect on Americans, for example the campaign 30 ways to stop smoking (1964). These photographs have been exposed in New York gallery Higher Pictures in 2010. The poster Ronbo (1985) has had a resounding success: Gescheidt combined the smiling head of Ronald Reagan with the body of the movie character Rambo. The poster was included in the Library of Congress’s 2010 exhibition Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture. Don’t forget his collaboration with American Postcard Co., in 1980s: the cat postcards are memorable!

I will soon dedicate some articles to the particular techniques used by Gescheidt and other photographers of his generation, so…Stay tuned!