Tuesday, May 4, 2010
On my vacation last week, the friend I went to visit in Bratislava and I were looking for a way to kill some time; we were meeting a friend of hers for coffee in an hour. And we literally stumbled into a photography gallery, Stredoeuropsky dom fotografie. They had two shows up. One of them was from the Austrian National Library's photography archive. There was an etcher named Ferdinand Schmutzer (no, I'd never heard of him) who took portraits of his subjects before he made their etchings, mostly between 1894 and 1928. The portraits were fantastic. The only thing I can compare them to is Oskar Kokoschka's painted portraits from the 1920s. I was sorely tempted to buy the catalogue, but it was over 81 euros.
Schmutzer had fantastic access to a range of people- the last German Kaiser, the last Austro-Hungarian Kaiser, Arthur Schnitzler, Pablo Casals (so young he had hair), Einstein (so young he had dark hair), etc. The most arresting photo was of Freud- he looks like an avenging angel. His eyes are so powerful I was almost afraid to go closer to get a better look.
Here are one of the Einstein portraits, and one of the Wittgenstein girls (Ludwig's sister, I believe).