Frederick Sommer, American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999
Not currently on view
Frederick Sommer (American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999)
Gelatin silver print
19.2 × 24 cm (7 9/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation
This image of Surrealist painter Max Ernst posed against a weathered wooden wall has been overprinted with a negative of a rough, water-worn rock surface. As the two negatives merge together, the white-haired painter's flesh absorbs the rock's scaly "poetry of decay," hinting at Ernst's own advancing age and mortality. A dark horizontal beam cuts across the upper third of the photograph, slicing a recessed path across Ernst's eyes that gives the illusion of a mask. Rather than a straight likeness, this is a psychological portrait, though the viewer must contemplate whether it is an exploration of the subject or the photographer, Frederick Sommer. Ernst's work was influential in the development of Sommer's Surrealist imagery.
Frederick Sommer at Seventy-Five: A Retrospective, edited by Constance W. Glenn and Jane K. Bledsoe (published on the occasion of an exhib. organized by Leland Rice for Long Beach: Art Museum and Galleries, California State University, Long Beach, 1980), p. 12.
Sommer, Frederick. Venus, Jupiter & Mars: The Photographs of Frederick Sommer, edited by John Weiss, exh. cat.; cosponsored by the Department of Art, University of Delaware and the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, Del.: Delaware Art Museum, 1980), fig. 24.
Sommer, Frederick. Sommer: Words (v. 1)/Images (v. 2) (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1984), pl. 14.
Sommer, Frederick. All Children are Ambassadors [Alle Kinder sind Botschafter] (Munich, Germany: Nazraeli Press, 1992), pl. 12.