Alvin Langdon Coburn

Vortograph

1917
Alvin Langdon Coburn's Vortographs, the result of collaboration with the poet Ezra Pound, became key examples of photography's transition from Pictorialism to modernism. Constructing a device dubbed a "Vortoscope" - which consisted of three mirrors joined together in a triangle around a camera lens - Coburn photographed objects, transforming them into dynamic and complex facets of light and shade. When exhibited at the London Camera Club in 1917, the eighteen images elicited general outrage. One reviewer suggested they were the result of "poseuritis." Even Coburn's friend and fellow photographer Frederick Evans called for the return of "sane art" and implied that these images were probably evidence of a misguided youth.
Title
Vortograph
Date
1917
Medium
Photograph
Materials
gelatin silver print
Dimensions
27.6 x 20.3 cm
Nationality
American; British
Credit line
Purchased 2005
Accession number
41656

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