United States of America 1896 – 1958
Nude lying on a love seat c.1936 Materials & Technique: photographs, carbro colour photograph
Like the Australian-born Anton Bruehl, Paul Outerbridge studied at the Clarence White School of Photography in New York. White was keen to see photography establish itself as a practical art that could be used in the service of the rapidly expanding picture magazine industry. Within a year of enrolling in the school, Outerbridge’s work was appearing in Vogue and Vanity Fair. During his lifetime, Outerbridge was known for his commercial work, particularly his elegant, stylish still-life compositions which show the influence of earlier studies in painting. He was also admired for the excellence of his pioneering colour work, which was achieved by means of a complicated tri-colour carbro process.
Much of Outerbridge’s fame now rests on work that he made following more private obsessions. His fetishistic nude photographs of women are influenced primarily by eighteenth-century French painters such as Ingres. Although the depiction of nudes was a genre pursued from the inception of photography, Outerbridge’s interest in breaking down taboos resulted in this material, if known at all, being passed over or vilified in his lifetime. Outerbridge sought to express what he described as an ‘inner craving for perfection and beauty’ through these often mysterious, languid and richly toned images.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014
During his lifetime, Outerbridge was known for his innovative advertising and fashion photography that appeared in Vogue and Vanity Fair. However, his fame rests on his work that followed more private obsessions. His erotic photographs of women were influenced by eighteenth-century French painting presenting the female nude with a balance of classicism, naive shamelessness and worldly sensuality. These richly toned images were the result of his pioneering colour work, achieved by means of a complicated tri-colour carbro process.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra