Hawker, Port Augusta, Australia 1900 – San Francisco, United States of America 1982
not titled (Cog wheel) c.1935 Materials & Technique: photographs, dye-transfer colour photograph
Born in South Australia in 1900, Anton Bruehl first trained as an electrical engineer in Melbourne before immigrating to New York in 1919 to work for General Electric. By 1926—having studied art and design photography at Clarence White’s progressive school in New York—Bruehl had turned his teenage hobby of photography into a new vocation. He persuaded his brother Martin, a structural engineer, to move to New York and together the Bruehl brothers’ Lexington Avenue studio became renowned for elaborate advertising images, most of which were published under contract to Condé Nast, the publishers of Vogue.
In 1928 Condé Nast commissioned Bruehl to work with the photo-technician Fernand Bourges to perfect high-quality, innovative colour advertising. Condé Nast gave Bruehl artistic freedom, which, combined with the quality of the company’s colour engravings, ensured the studio’s dominant position in American colour advertising until the 1950s.
The Bruehl studio colour photographs were costly and technically ingenious, yet they were also lively and seemingly effortless, such as this image of a cogwheel, which appears to be hovering in outer space in a luminous slipstream of colour.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008