Gertrudes Altschul Lines and Tones (Linhas e tons) 1953

  • Not on view

Like most members of São Paulo’s Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB), Altschul was an amateur, meaning that she pursued photography on her own time, without any professional ambition or affiliation. The word Bandeirante in the club’s name was an allusion to a seventeenth-century São Paulo–based group of explorers and fortune hunters, signaling the club’s desire to connect with its regional history as well as the spirit of innovation then associated with the term. Altschul officially became a member of the FCCB in July 1952, and just a year later this study of contrasting architectural forms was featured on the cover of Boletim, the club’s monthly magazine. Altschul called the work simply Lines and Tones, naming neither the buildings nor the neighborhood, underscoring her conviction (shared by her fellow club members) that photography could transform the world through the camera’s lens into something entirely new.

The FCCB actively recruited female members for its Secção Feminina (Women’s Section), granting women photographers discounted membership fees and promoting their achievements in both the magazine and the club’s vibrant domestic and international network of salons. Altschul’s exceptional talent was widely heralded: the backs of many of her large prints are covered with stamps and labels from the numerous salons to which her work was accepted. The judges doubtless appreciated the striking graphic impact of this urban juxtaposition, achieved in a narrow tonal range of soft grays.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Additional text

Like almost every member of Sáo Paulo’s famed Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB), Altschul was an amateur, meaning she pursued photographic activity without any professional affiliation or ambition. She began attending workshops with the FCCB in the late 1940s and became a member in 1952. There are no written records of her creative intent, leaving only the visual evidence of her achievement: experimentations with process and form, and inventive compositions discovered within everyday life. These large-scale prints were made for the active circuit of contemporary salons and exhibitions that traveled throughout Brazil and internationally in this period.

Gallery label from Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, April 19 - August 13, 2017.
Gelatin silver print
14 7/8 × 11" (37.8 × 27.9 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Amie Rath Nuttall
Object number
© 2024 Estate of Gertrudes Altschul

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