CP Curio: Poetics of Obsession: From the Everyday to the Sublime

I just recently rediscovered a gem of a museum at the International Center of Photography that reminds me of the boutique like museums that I used to love to visit in Paris, and it’s right in the heart of New York City.

The Twilight Vision exhibition showcases the surrealist work of the most prominent photographers of the time. Each roamed the streets of Paris during the 1930’s and each in his own way, captured the style, fashion and poetry of everyday life.

The front gallery features provocative, unsettling images of Mannequins by Max Ernst, Hans Belmer, and Sonia Moore that lie somewhere between dreams and reality. Followed by the atmospheric, contemplative photographs of nightlife by Brassai, Ise Bing, Andre Kertesz and, Dorra Maar (Picasso’s lover and muse) that give us a keyhole into the life of bohemian Montparnasse. We even get a glimpse of the Folies Bergere where the scandalous cancan was danced nightly (that is, if the police weren’t busy raiding the place for indecency).

Favorites include, a vision is that of Madame Bijou, who shows up in her black cape, neck heavily decorated with pearl necklaces, fingers displaying over a dozen rings while she nurses a glass of red wine at the Bar de Lone, reads palms and tells stories. As well as a photograph of Kiki de Montparnasse, the artist muse , nightclub performer, and painter. She lived her wild unconventional life on her own terms, and it was no surprise when she was declared the Queen of Montparnasse (yes, the sexy lingerie store in Soho is named after her).

Through it all there are nostalgic images of the Eiffel tower, and some extraordinarily sensual portraits of the prominent women of Paris by Man Ray. One last “don’t miss” item – upstairs you’ll find a video about the nonconformist Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy. It’s the first North American showing of his haunting images of the female form, and even includes a vitrine containing his handmade cameras constructed from shoeboxes, tin cans, and duct tape which he hid in his coat so that he could secretly take photographs of the women around him.

What: Twilight Vision
Where: International Center of Photography, 1133 6th avenue at 43rd st
When: Now thorugh May 9th, Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday -Sunday 10-6, Friday 10-8

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