United States of America 1896 – 1958
No title (Glass bowl, chopping block and pan). (c.1923) Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph
Art is life seen through man’s inner craving for perfection and beauty – this escape from the sordid realities of life into a world of his imagining. It is one of the artist’s principal duties to do more than merely record life or nature. To the artist is given the privilege of pointing the way and inspiring towards a better life.
Paul Outerbridge trained as an illustrator in New York before turning to photography. He enrolled in the Clarence H White School of Photography in 1921. Influenced by White’s strong emphasis on design, he created carefully composed, often abstracted, meticulously printed still-life studies of everyday objects. In 1925, he moved to Paris and worked for the French edition of Vogue magazine. He became one of the leading photographers in Paris and continued to build his career after returning to New York in 1929. He mastered the laborious early colour process of carbro printing and enjoyed great success during the 1930s but ran into trouble in the 1940s when his photographs of nudes attracted censure. In 1943 he moved to Hollywood and then to Laguna Beach, California, where he opened a small portrait studio but lived in virtual retirement until his death in 1958. It was not until the mid 1970s that a series of publications and exhibitions brought him back to the public’s attention and further critical acclaim.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra