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Abstract Composition

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Date:

    ca. 1930 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Moffat, Curtis, born 1887 - died 1949 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Penelope Smail

  • Museum number:

    E.880-2003

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 966, box F

To make this image Moffat placed a dragonfly directly in a photographic enlarger and projected it onto light-sensitive paper. Simple 'camera-less' techniques became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, with the desire to create pattern and explore new sensations of scale and space. Moffat also owned an interior design and decoration business in London from 1929 to 1933, and this image includes perspex and black glass that was on sale.

Physical description

Negative image (luminogram, similar to a photogram) of a dragonfly on a black ground.

Date

ca. 1930 (made)

Artist/maker

Moffat, Curtis, born 1887 - died 1949 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Marks and inscriptions

'Curtis Moffat'
Photographer's signature on recto of mount.

Dimensions

Height: 36.5 cm image, Width: 29 cm image

Descriptive line

'Abstract Composition', gelatin silver print by Curtis Moffat (1887-1949), about 1925

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

La Subversion de las imagenes. Surrealismo, fotograffia, cine Paris: Centre Pompidou, 2009. ISBN: 9782844263902.

Labels and date

Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2011-2012, label text :

Curtis Moffat (1887-1949)
Dragonfly
About 1925

Simple ‘camera-less’ techniques became popular in
the 1920s and 1930s, with the desire to create pattern
and explore aspects of scale and space. Man Ray,
with whom Moffat worked in the 1920s, was one
of the pioneers of this process. To make this image,
Moffat placed a dragonfly directly in a photographic
enlarger and projected it onto light-sensitive paper.

Gelatin silver print
Given by Penelope Smail
Museum no. E.880-2003
[07 03 2014]
Cameraless Photography

Curtis Moffat (1887–1949)
Abstract Compositions
c.1925
Gelatin silver prints
59 36.6 x 28.7 cm
60 37.2 x 29.4 cm
61 36.5 x 29 cm
62 29.1 x 24.5 cm

Given by Penelope Smail
Museum nos. E.880-2003, E.2555, 2557, 2554-2007

Moffat began experimenting with photogram techniques in collaboration with Man Ray in Paris from 1923. He titled them Abstract Compositions and exhibited them in the showrooms of his London interior design emporium, Curtis Moffat Ltd., seeing them as an element within a decorative scheme. Yet he also described them as ‘painting with light’ and showed them as artworks in their own right. Alongside his use of the photogram, Moffat’s Abstract Compositions employed other cameraless techniques. In one image, an insect’s body – a grasshopper, locust or cricket – is used in place of a photographic negative. In another (p.62), he appears to have painted directly on the paper, perhaps with photographic chemicals. []
Gallery 100 ‘A History of Photography’, 2014-2015, label text:

Curtis Moffatt (1887–1949)
‘Abstract Composition’
About 1925

Moffat’s work included dynamic abstract photographs, innovative colour still lives, and glamorous society portraits. In the early 1920s, he collaborated with the artist Man Ray in Paris, making abstract photograms, or ‘Rayographs’. These were made in the darkroom by placing objects directly on photographic paper to make the exposure. Photograms are unique and no camera or film is involved.

Gelatin silver print
Given by Penelope Small
Museum no. E.2557-2007
[06 03 2014]

Subjects depicted

Dragonflies

Categories

Photographs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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