Sunday, August 9, 2009
Free Women in Paris
"Photography can never grow up and stand on its own two feet if it imitates primarily some other medium. It has to walk alone. It has to be itself.”
--Berenice Abbott, photographer (far right, photo by Man Ray, c. 1921)
If I'm reminiscing about my religious, philosophical, and other influences, I can't overlook the influence of the Lesbian Artist in Paris (fin de siècle or between the wars), who seemed to me, when I was in my early twenties, the epitome of freedom. It wasn't all that simple, of course, but I still find these women's lives--as creators, not subjects--alluring, inspiring.
This afternoon I took a break from film editing, which I find nerve-wracking, to gather some images. I used to remember who painted or published or photographed whom, and who was lovers with whom too, but these details don't stay with me, just the sense of women unfettered and alive. I suppose my admiration for them is a relative of my admiration for Jim Kirk (though he's no intellect)--people who stand on their own feet. A romantic illusion, in part (a lot of these women were independently wealthy, for instance, and Kirk is, I hate to say it, fictional), but not a bad one...
Romaine Brooks, self-portrait (1923)
Reneé Vivien (left) and Natalie Barney
"Writing only leads to more writing." --Colette
Au Café, Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes in Paris, 1922, photo by Maurice Brange
"It is not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important." --Gertrude Stein
Far left, photo by Berenice Abbott;
Near left, in her Paris book- shop, Shakes- peare and Co., photo by Gisèle Freund