Friday, August 28, 2009

Collecting Von Gloeden's photographs...


Many contemporary books offer good reproductions of von Gloeden's photographs... Actually, not so many... First, because, publishers have to make their mind about authorship, when there is no stamp or serial number to attribute a photograph to von Gloeden or to one of his followers & colleagues such as von Plüschow or Galdi... Then, because very few modern fac simile provide us with the vintage patina, with the unforgettable charm of an original photograph. Vintage photographs are like archaeological testimonies: shades and light, black and white allow us to contemplate a model who was in his teen years a centuy ago... The photograph is a promiss of futures, a step in a young life, while we know, as viewers or collectors, that this young man is dead now. However, his youth, his charm, his beauty are still radiating today... 

A printed fac simile is an industrial picture — Walter Benjamin wrote a famous essay about mechanical reproduction of pictures. An original von Gloeden's photograph has its own story... Someone bought it in Taormina. Someone chose it, because he wanted to have a copy of this photograph and he was attracted by the model. Someone paid for it. Such a photograph keeps the thoughts, the memories, the desires, the sorrows it inspired. And the model still inspires dreams, desires and longing more than a century after the photograph was shot...

Before the WWW, before gay blogs and porn commercial web sites, buying a photograph from von Gloeden in Taormina was for many European gay men the only way to find a visual and artistic translation of their desires... Sicilia, Classical Antiquity, idyllic set-up were as many ways to give a visual reality to forbidden dreams... While linked with a remote Arcadian utopia, von Gloeden's photographs and postcards could be safely bought, exchanged and collected...

I am fascinated by the poetry of these original photographs. For me, looking at them means listening to a deliciously vintage music...

1 comment:

Hermes Trismeg said...

Thank you for your insight.