Born in New York in 1893, Florence Henri left the city when she was two years old after the death of her mother. She was thrown into a peripatetic life, travelling between her mother’s relatives in Silesia (then part of Germany), a convent school in Paris, and family homes in London and the Isle of Wight, and as an adult continued her travels, studying music in Rome, relocating to Berlin in World War One, acquiring Swiss citizenship through a hasty marriage, and moving to Paris in 1925, where she studied painting under Fernand Leger.
In 1927, when she was 34, Henri enrolled as a non-matriculating student at the Bauhaus in Dessau, where she studied photography with László Moholy-Nagy and struck up a close friendship with Lucia Moholy. Between 1928 and the late 1930s she created the photography she’s now best-known for, using prisms and reflections to complicate her images and experimenting with techniques such as photomontage, multiple exposures and photograms.
In our latest issue, Nature, we speak with Lena C Emery about her latest work, Yuka & The Forest, which draws on Japan’s powerful cultural connection to forests. Todd Hido’s latest series, Bright Black World, presents a more chilling vision, showing icy landscapes that suggest a impending environmental disaster. Yoshinori Mizutani takes on the genre of nature photography, meanwhile, proposing a fresher approach to images of wildlife with his series HDR_nature. We also offer an insight into the latest technology trends to emerge from the Photokina trade show.
From 07 November to 04 February, the Centre Pompidou in Paris is showing a striking exhibition on a little-known aspect of the roots of 20th century social documentary photography, Photographie, arme de classe [which roughly translates as ‘Photography as a weapon in the class struggle’]. Curated by Damarice Amao, Florian Ebner and Christian Joschke, the show deals with a comparatively unknown period in French photo history, from the end of the 1920s to the arrival of the Front populaire government of 1936 – when the socialist, communist and radical parties formed a short-lived coalition to govern France, with the tacit backing of the Soviet Union.
Photographer and activist Henri Tracol (1909-1997) was the first to formulate the idea that photography could be an “arme de classe”, in the tract he wrote for the photographer’s section of the Association des Écrivains et Artistes Revolutionnaires [‘Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists’ aka the AEAR], formed in 1932. Although this communist front, Moscow-sponsored organisation only lasted a few years, it attracted many of the leading figures of the day from art, theatre, literature, architecture, and particularly photography. Those who joined were either fellow travellers or politically attached to communism, seeing it as a bastion against the twin evils of the time – fascism and capitalism.
A new photography gallery has opened in East London with its inaugural show, Reduction, Reduction, by New York based photographer Robin Broadbent. Wren London is situated a stone’s throw from Old Street station, with an exhibition space set out on street level above a studio in the basement, which will be used in Broadbent’s exhibition. Photography will be displayed on large white sheets of wood hung along the walls from metal scaffolds on the ceiling, working with the floor to ceiling windows to provide a restricted view into the gallery. “The windows have been intentionally designed so there is only one clear view into the space”, explains Jennifer Turner, director of the gallery and founder of Wren Artists. “We wanted to control the way people see the work from the outside.” During breaks between shows, vinyl sheets designed to correspond with the next exhibition will line the windows, mainly to conceal the work while they install it, but also in the hope of building anticipation as people walk past the gallery. “Being able to open …