Gelatin silver print, printed 1990s 31,3 x 20,6 cm (12.3 x 8.1 in)
Signed and dated by the photographer in pencil on the reverse
LITERATURE Peter Weiermeier (ed.), Ralph Gibson. Lichtjahre, Zurich 1996, p. 37; Ralph Gibson, Ralph Gibson. Deus Ex Machina, Cologne 1999, p. 113.
Ralph Gibson’s photograph from 1970, taken in New York, pays homage to the eroticism of the original element of photography: the inscription of light onto a highly sensitive surface. The aspect of touch in the genesis of the photographic image, discussed over and over in expert literature since Fox Talbot, from André Bazin to Philippe Dubois, is staged by Gibson as a highly erotic open-air nude scene.
As if under the hands of a lover, Gibson’s model writhes in the rays of sunlight casting the shadow of a tree on the girl’s impeccable skin. Gibson’s roots were originally in the documentary tradition. After training as a photographer during his service in the US Navy, he worked as Dorothea Lange’s assistant for a year in 1961. Lange was a former member of FSA and famous for her photograph Migrant Mother. During his early years, he named Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein and Robert Frank as his role models, and his preference for Leica also dates to this period and has stayed with him ever since. Starting in the late 1960s, Gibson developed a highly idiosyncratic visual language, often translating surreal subjects into precise compositions of black-and-white images.
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