Jan 16, 2007

Snake in Bucket

Snake in Bucket


Imogen Cunningham

(American, 1883-1976)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 16.6 x 21.5 cm (6 9/16 x 8 7/16 in.); Paper: 19.8 x 26.5 cm (7 13/16 x 10 7/16 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1997.195



In the early 1920s, Cunningham abandoned her pictorial style, which relied on soft focus and soft printing, and instead embraced the emerging modernist approach, objectively presenting visual facts with clarity and directness. At the beginning and end of that same decade, she took a limited number of photographs of snakes. This stunning image from 1929 is one of a few photographs she made of a snake in a bucket. By setting up her 8-by-10-inch view camera near her subject, Cunningham intentionally suppressed descriptive information about the container’s shape, texture, and position. She concentrated on the elaborate pattern of the snake’s skin and its flowing form, approaching this photograph as if on one of her commercial portrait assignments.

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