Les Nus de Drtikol

"Everything here, creation and impression, is uniquely photographic and that is essentially modern." — Claude de Santeul, 1929

Czech photographer Frantisek Drtikol (1883-1961) reinvented the genre of nude photography for the early twentieth century. Drtikol opened his Prague studio in 1907 and portraiture was the means by which he made a comfortable living, but Drtikol made his name as an artist through his nude studies. While his professional portraiture was elegant and refined, his nude studies were daring and inventive. They were the epitome of avant-garde. He was among the first photographer to incorporate the elements of Art Deco into his work. He frequently contrasted the suppleness and flexibility of the female body against solid and unyielding geometric forms. Despite those differences, he emphasized the strength to be found in both forms, human and geometric.  Drtikol showed a willingness to incorporate anything that might make his nude studies more powerful. In addition to the inclusion of Art Deco details, he used lighting techniques developed for the new medium of silent movies and integrated elements of modern expressive dance.

Frantisek Drtikol , Plate XIV
Les Nus de Drtikol, 1929


Frantisek Drtikol , Plate XXV
Les Nus de Drtikol, 1929

Drtikol’s rare portfolio Les Nus features a number of images in his emerging Modernist style, a style that not only anticipated, but also influenced, the Bauhaus. Drtikol quickly absorbed into his photography the myriad of new expressive movements in the years between the wars, and freighted his nudes with the dramatic lighting of silent film and the more austere geometric effects and dynamic poses of Futurism, Cubism and Bauhaus. Surveying his daring and expressive nudes of the 1920s and 1930s, this important publication charts Drtikol’s adventurous treatments of the nude as they evolved in their quirky conversation with modernist innovations.

It wasn’t until a decade or so after his death in 1961 that art historians began to re-examine his work and his role in shaping modern photography.

We are pleased to have a copy of ‘Les Nus de Drtikol’ in this collection.

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