I was amazed to recently discover the work of photographer Anton Bruehl. A 20th century pioneer in both commercial and colour photography, Bruehl created stunning pictures that fall somewhere between Modernism and the still-life portraiture that he dabbled in as youth in rural Australia.
In 1919 — and at the age of 19 — Bruehl moved to New York. Little more than a decade later, he would be a lynchpin in Conde Nast’s magazine empire, which included titles such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and House & Garden.
Bruehl’s curious story , as well as an exhibition of his work at QUT’s Gardens Point campus, made him a natural choice for a short feature on TheVine. Excerpt below.
The Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus is a good place to watch student life go by. Like any Australian universitythere are all sorts: reluctant arts brats, buttoned down law students, loudmouth business undergrads. They rush along the campus’ Main Drive this particular rainy afternoon – wet even by Brisbane standards – tapping at their phones whilst skipping for cover.
As they do they pass right by the QUT Art Museum. Heads down to avoid the rain the students don’t catch the massive poster out front, featuring a semi-nude model lying on a thatched towel. It’s actually quite a discreet photo, but undoubtedly alluring. And it says something about Brisbane’s ability to bucket down water on its denizens that nobody stops to take a closer look.
It turns out that this wasn’t a great day to witness the effect the poster usually has. “We are getting a lot of interest from students,” the Art Museum’s Acting Senior Curator Megan Williams tells me a week later, chuckling as she refers to the striking image, originally a 1930s advertisement for Cannon Towels. “I think it’s actually quite cheeky and very Bruehl-esque, in a sense.”
By “Bruehl-esque” Williams means Australian-born photographer Anton Bruehl. And the exhibition the poster spruiks is In the spotlight: Anton Bruehl photographs 1920s-1950s. Don’t panic if you’ve never heard of Bruehl: the lack of attention on that rainy Queensland day was until recently indicative of the wider arts community, which has struggled in recent years to play catch-up with his impressive legacy.
For the full article, visit TheVine. Photo credit: Anton Bruehl, Gene Tierney c 1938, dye-transfer colour photograph, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Filed under: Art by mrmatches