(Germany 1903 – 1978)
17.3 x 12.3 cm image; 17.8 x 13.0 cm sheet
For more than five decades Annelise Kretschmer’s vocabulary of form extended itself through a repertoire of photographs that firmly centred on portraiture and non-objective imagery. A master disciple of Franz Fielder in Dresden, she worked on the publication ‘Magazine’ throughout the 1920s, after which she opened a private photographic studio in Dortmund that operated until the 1970s. Included in the 1929 ‘Film und foto’ exhibition in Stuttgart, Kretschmer’s work should be seen in the light of her early affiliations with the Neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity) artists, with their attention to precision of form and framing. Her experiments with cropping and form located the personality of the subject as paramount to the psychological control and effect of the resulting photograph. Over several years she made portraits of her children using a small camera in order to capture the action and vitality of the figures.
The sitter in ‘Untitled’ emits a psychological intensity created through the concentration on the pose and gesture of the subject. The youth is androgynous, the gaze intense, focused and controlled, engaging fully with the viewer. Although the clothes can be construed as masculine, cross-dressing was not uncommon in Europe between the wars, reflecting a newfound, although short-lived, feminist freedom. The bare arm and hand with jewelled ring read as feminine, but become visually disjointed when juxtaposed with the masculine features and absence of makeup. All these elements are emphasised through the deliberate play with light and shadow and a diffused, heavily cropped background that further confuses the reading of the image.
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Donna Brett, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'The surreal aesthetic', pg.113-129, Sydney, 2007, 117, 121 (illus.).
Annelise Kretschmer "Portraits from the 1920s to 1960", Galerie Priska Pasquer, Köln, 10 Sep 2004–23 Oct 2004
The surreal aesthetic, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Jul 2007–14 Oct 2007
What's in a face? aspects of portrait photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 Sep 2011–05 Feb 2012