Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945 at the National Gallery of Art West Wing

Sasha Stone (b. Russia, 1895-1940), Erwin Piscator Entering the Nollendorf Theater, Berlin, 1929

Sasha Stone (b. Russia, 1895-1940), Erwin Piscator Entering the Nollendorf Theater, Berlin, 1929

Had an inspiring artist’s date yesterday at the National Gallery of Art. Was overwhelmed with computer tedium and decided to practice some much-needed adolescence by playing hookey and recharging the batteries by checking out the exhibit: Foto: Modernity in Central Europe.

From the catalog, “In the 1920s and 1930s, photography became an immense phenomenon across Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany,
Hungary, and Poland. It fired the imagination of hundreds of progressive artists, provided a creative outlet for thousands of devoted
amateurs, and became a symbol of modernity for millions through its use in magazines, newspapers, advertising, and books. It was in interwar
central Europe as well that an art history for all photography was first established. Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918 – 1945 aims to recover
the crucial role played by photography in this period, and in so doing to delineate a central European model of modernity. . . .

Each of the eight thematic sections in Foto brings together work made between 1918 and 1945 from across the region, comparing individual
or local differences against the larger heritage sketched here of common institutions and attitudes toward “the modern.”

Of particular interest to me were the photo collages, which were also known as “picture-poems.” A title I really enjoy, and one I might appropriate for the title of a monograph one day. Here is an example of a particularly successful one (imho), also apparently to my sources this is a superb example of futurism:

Kazimierz Podsadecki - City, Mill of Life, 1929

Kazimierz Podsadecki – City, Mill of Life, 1929

Photomontage was used as a critical echo of the devastating mechanization and fragmentation of society and of human bodies brought about by the first World War. About 80 years later it was crudely reappropriated by myself and my band of cronies when we employed the same technique to serve as souvenirs of our summers of debauchery. Phrases cut out from magazines like, “Working for the Weekend” joined party snaps of underage bacchanals and adorned my dorm room for YEARS. I am so ashamed.

Take heart! It’s not where you are, it’s how far you’ve come. And I like to think I have managed to recoup some early losses and now channel the spirit of the divine. For me, the standout image of the show was this one, poorly displayed here, the actual print is much better.

Jindrich Marco, Souvenir, from the series Springtime in Poland, 1947

Jindrich Marco, Souvenir, from the series Springtime in Poland, 1947

And is there not something of the above in this image (tho maybe not as much background):

C2 Marketing Event, McSoccerfest, Poolesville, Maryland 2005

C2 Marketing Event, McSoccerfest, Poolesville, Maryland 2005

BTW, this image will be part of a group show at Mount Tremper Arts in the fall, the show is curated by Matthew Pokoik and centers around the question, “How do we occupy the landscape?” Also participating are Aaron Diskin, John Daido Loori, Timothy O’Sullivan, and Stephen Shore, yep, THAT Stephen Shore. Pardon me now, I’m having an Aunt Pittypat moment and must run for the smelling salts.mper Arts

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