Jean Painlevé (French, 1902-1989)
gelatin silver print, Image: 22.9 x 17.3 cm (9 x 6 3/4 in.); Paper: 24.2 x 18.4 cm (9 1/2 x 7 3/16 in.). John L. Severance Fund 2007.99
Best known for his documentary films about undersea creatures, Jean Painlevé was a biologist and pioneer in natural history filmmaking. While he most often worked in a documentary mode, he sometimes ventured beyond it to explore the boundaries between Realism and Surrealism. A hallmark of Surrealism is the ability to get the viewer to look at a commonplace object or scene and suddenly see it differently. Here, by simply removing the object from its original context and turning the image on end, a transformation was realized. Following the rise to power in France of General Charles de Gaulle, Painlevé sometimes referred to the image as De Gaulle, caricatures of whom it resembled.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (10/19/2014-1/11/2015): "Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Phorography," cat. no. 27, p. 55.
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