Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction

Gertrudes Altschul. Lines and Tones (Linhas e Tons). c. 1952 488

Gelatin silver print, 14 7/8 × 11" (37.8 × 27.9 cm). Acquired through the generosity of Amie Rath Nuttall. © 2019 Estate of Gertrudes Altschul

Sarah Meister: The photographs by Gertrudes Altschul have an incredible presence that allows you to both appreciate their graphic qualities and to get into the details of the various textures and forms.

She could place two baskets before her camera, and the way that their shadows cast fill the paper with a network of forms. Or when she's photographing a leaf, the very veins of the leaf -- if you can pull that detail from that picture, you see it in an almost surreal light.

Altschul was a member of a group called the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante, which was a group of amateur photographers active in Sao Paolo after the Second World War. And what's so striking about their work is the way that they were able to merge an incredible impulse towards experimentation and abstraction with a very close observation of the world around them. They were taught how to make pictures that looked solarized, they worked to make photograms and other experimental processes. So all of these things certainly contributed to Altschul's development as a photographer, even if we don't know specifically what technique she used for any given picture.

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