Simple figures: the surreal beauty of Hans Breder’s transfigured forms

Simple figures: the surreal beauty of Hans Breder’s transfigured forms

Given that our recent fashion stories with photographers Noé Sendas and Brigitte Niedermair have focused on the human form of late, it felt only apt to highlight the work of Hans Breder, the German-born, self-taught photographer who made his name in New York by blurring the lines between photography and sculpture in his otherworldly images of the body.

Breder’s experimental approach comes into focus at Danziger Gallery in the Big Apple’s Lower East Side this month, with the gallery highlighting photographs from his Body/Sculptures series, dating from 1969–1973. Characterised by the strategic placement of mirrored planes alongside the female form, these works add to the tradition of the transfigured figure (as pioneered by the artists André Kertész and Hans Bellmer) while also toeing the line between photography and performance art.

Realised in moody black and white, Breder’s images exude a surreal quality. Whether they’re contorted on a table or simply lying straight whilst floating in a river, the nude figures take on an inanimate feel, amplified by the clever reflections that intersect each image. The mirrors add a dynamic quality to each photograph – twisting the delineations of space and perception, which continued to be a defining feature of Breder’s work.

Many of the photographic prints were shot using square film on a Rolleiflex then printed by Breder on an enlarger he set up in his studio. The 16 x 20 inch silver gelatin prints have remained untouched since their production in 1970.

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