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Marius de Zayas: Alfred Stieglitz (ca. 1912)

  • Series: 
    Camera Work No. 46, April 1914
  • Date: 
    1914
  • Technique: 
    Photogravure on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    Support: 23,6 x 17,8 cm
  • Category: 
    Photography
  • Entry date: 
    2005
  • Register number: 
    AD04004-008
  • On display in:
Marius de Zayas, a newspaper caricaturist in New York, came into contact with Cubism and African and Oceanic art through the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and from that moment began to explore different ways of approaching abstraction. Some years later, in 1914, the Mexican artist was studying the ethnographic collection at the British Museum when he came across an artefact from the Pukapuka atoll in the South Pacific; made of coconut fibre string, it consisted of a number of circles placed symmetrically along a central cord, and was referred to in the catalogue as a ‘soul-catcher’. The artist said that the object reminded him physically and spiritually of Stieglitz – who always wore a characteristic pair of round glasses – so he took it as a reference for his portrait of April 1914, published in October in issue 46 of Camera Work, under the title The Trap to Catch Souls. The picture includes a mathematical formula – showing his admiration for the intelligence of the portrait’s subject – and a triangle of diagonal lines to represent the photographer’s bushy moustache. The drawing is part of a series of abstract caricatures loaded with symbolism, which also includes other avant-garde personalities such as Francis Picabia and Guillaume Apollinaire. The series was to have a significant influence on Picabia himself and other artists in the Dadaist group.

Almudena Cruz Yábar

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