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"Clarence John Laughlin"
Clarence John Laughlin
Author:
Leonard Herriman
Clarence John Laughlin was born in 1905 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and spent most of his life after 1910 in New Orleans. Laughlin was initially a writer, but he was inspired by the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Man Ray, and received his first major project as a photographer in 1936 documenting the architecture of New Orleans. That was the beginning of his life as a photographer, and as a totally self-taught artist, he earned his living freelancing from 1946 until his death in 1967, when he stopped photographing, but continued to write and lecture until his death in 1985. He is now well known as a great surrealist photographer of the 30's and 40's, sometimes referred to as "Edgar Allan Poe with a camera," due to his sometimes haunting images. His experience as a writer no doubt helped him to look at photography in a truly unique light, and through combining architectural photos, abstractions, still lifes, and multiple exposures in entirely new ways, he instilled psychological meaning into each of his photographs. (Incidentally, he was a great influence on the work of Jerry Uelsmann and Joel-Peter Witkin in particular.) Laughlin strongly believed that the subconscious mind had a way of discovering the true nature of things, and his photographs are obviously rich with visual metaphors, encouraging the viewer to see the associations and different levels of meaning. He would often attach poetic "descriptions" to photographs which he felt were essential to understanding the photograph, augmenting his photographs' elaborately allegorical qualities. Because of the wishes of exhibitors and curators, his work was often censored in that they would not include these descriptions, but nevertheless, he persisted and became an important figure in the history of surreal photography.


Davis, Keith F. Clarence John Laughlin: Visionary Photographer. Kansas City,...

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essay on Clarence John Laughlin
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Added:
01/15/2012
Category:
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