Wednesday, December 23, 2009


"Dear Wilhelm,

I am back in Berlin, but Taormina's sun light still surrounds me and in my memory, I am still walking in the gardens of the San Domenico Hotel. Nino and Giovanni, Marco and so many others are still so present and so close to me, while I browse my album of albuminate photographs, while I dream about the graceful silhouettes and the so beautiful portraits of your young Sicilian friends.

I love to read and read again my Classical authors while looking at your photographs Ovid and Vergil, Plato and Theocritus. I recognize in the set up of your photographs Castor and Pollux, Achilles mourning for Patrocles, Ixion, stuck on a wheel, Adonis and Ganymedes, and I even see a saint Sebastian lost among a so pagan landscape ! Philology is a German science (Altertumswissenchaft rules !) and there is probably a good reason for it ! You are the philologist of my desires !

But... I don't see Narcissus ! I love so much this beautiful myth about love and death, about seduction and metamorphosis, where a pretty teen boy is caught in the trap of the desire for his own beauty. Please, look at this painting by Gustave Coutois, admire the posture, the tenderness, this cute face caressing its reflected image, the forgotten time, a deep sleep coming...

Dear maesto, maybe this painting could bring you some inspiration, perhaps you could find in Taormina the spring of clear water and the beautiful lad who will fall in love with his recflected image. Would you please be so kind as to let me see such a scene under the Sicilian sun ?

With all my respects and already all my deepest thanks,

Your friend, for ever, Ludwig"

"Dear Ludwig,

Many thanks, my dear friend, for this beautiful painting of Narcissus: I love too his tender way to fall asleep.

Did I forget Narcissus among my photographic paintings ? Ach so...

Please, look again and better, Ludwig ! Narcissus is everywhere ! My models are so fascinated by thei reflected image and by the magy of my camera obscura, that catches their appearance and mirrors it for ever on the glass negative plate ! Look at these eyes, look at this face, fixed forever in front of a mirror !

Dear Ludwig, you are at the same time the mirror and the spring of clear water, you are the gaze that allows my photographs to exist !

In Taormina, Narcissus never dies, but looks at you forever !

I am happy to offer you this portrait, the most obscene, for sure, among my recent photographs ! Read Ovid, dear Ludwig, again and again !

Your friend

Wilhelm v. G."

(von Gloeden Archive, Letter from Ludwig to von Gloeden, Letter from von Gloeden to Ludwig, call number: 1985/09/12 and 1895/10/1).

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