From Man Ray to Gilbert & George. From Brassaï to William Klein and Olafur Eliasson. Photography, from its origins, has been a field of tireless experimentation. And also for play, almost as children, as a show until next March 26 the great show expanded visions. An exhibition that with 172 photographs from the Center Pompidou in Paris, which houses one of the most important collections of images in the world, starts at CaixaForum Madrid and will later go to Barcelona, Seville and Valencia.
These are photographs that play with light, composition and the materials themselves. Sometimes there is not even a camera, but the artists -who are sometimes directly scientists who discover new procedures- simply place random objects, a hotel key, a pistol, a square, on photosensitive paper and illuminate it with a light bulb. . Or they apply X-rays to it. Or electrical short circuits, creating images of astonishing beauty like direct electrical flashan image from 1885, the oldest in the Pompidou, in which the entomologist and astronomer Étienne Léopold Trouvelot achieves that, by passing through the silver salts of the photographic plate, electricity causes a centrifugal flash and at the same time preserves its trace, which It looks almost like the origin of the universe.
There are surreal photographs in which the protagonist, the Austrian photographer Herbet Bayer, discovers with his mouth open how the area of the arm that joins it to the shoulder has disappeared and, despite that emptiness, the arm continues to float in the air and has its hand resting on head in surprise. Another model, in this case also the artist himself, the Englishman Steven Pippin, walks naked through a laundry and his evolution is captured by a lens… placed in the tub of a washing machine. Developing products have been added to the detergent drawer.
There are also gigantic images taken from unthinkable places and almost unbelievably: the German Vera Lutter occupies a wall of CaixaForum with what appears to be the huge negative of a large mining extraction plant that has been taken… from a truck converted into a gigantic camera obscura -the ancestor of the photographic camera- papering the walls of the trailer with photosensitive paper so that when the doors are opened they are soaked in their surroundings. And there are even mysterious images in the exhibition taken by cameras located overnight on the chest of the artist -Alix Cléo Roubaud, who died at only 31 years old-, photographing a grove of cypresses with a long exposure time to the rhythm of the breath of she.
And the Icelander Olafur Eliasson, a former breakdancer and today an essential star of the great museums of the world, locks himself in a dark room dressed in LED bulbs and moves rhythmically while a camera captures his movements, giving rise to 16 photos full of luminous lines. that oscillate between an animated cardiogram and the schematic drawing of the waves of the sea. “The spirit of invention and fantasy is in the practice of all photographers. Most share an almost childlike spirit of play, they use the medium with great freedom and that allows them to transgress the usual definitions of photography,” says the curator , JulieJones.
That he wanted to show the works not chronologically but in dialogue with each other, confronting, for example, Eliasson’s images with those taken almost a century earlier by Barbara Morgan in 1940, in which contemporary dancers move with a light bulb whose light is imprinted in photography as if it were the dance of an electron.
The movement, the light, the alterations of all kinds in the photographs, especially loved by the surrealists, the game with the limits of the human eye and its overcoming through the use of microscopes, telescopes or infrared to take the images, are some of the sections. All this together with the ability of images to recreate new worlds and, also, to recreate the body, multiplying it, reinventing it before the current fluid genres. Even turning it into a true enigma, like Lucien Lorelle’s Puzzle Woman, who in 1936 took the image of a naked woman next to a knife and cut it into numerous pieces that she moved as if it were a puzzle.
A game, the one in the show, which concludes with a large, full-color photograph of Gilbert & George, a collage in which Gilbert is praying in the garden while George descends from heaven like an angel, superimposed with plants, trees and even a purple cat. A decomposition of the images that represents for the artists a metaphor of life, which consists, they say, in the juxtaposition of moments and emotions.