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Bordeaux, France, 1968. Pierre Molinier puts on some makeup, a atramentous eye affectation covers bisected of his face, fishnet stockings ambit about his affected legs and a metal alternation binds them to the stool he sits on. He starts photographing himself, already continuing naked in advanced of the camera, a additional time cutting a wig and his basal adverse the lens. This was a archetypal moment for the French photographer.
After capturing himself on film, Molinier would about use argent scissors to cut about the anatomy contours in the photos he had aloof shot, and arouse them into a distinct photomontage of his own body; a ambience en abyme — or, the aforementioned angel replicated to accord the consequence of beyond — that he would admire with his folding camera.
Born in 1900, Pierre Molinier’s activity and assignment as a painter and columnist was abounding with aphotic fantasies and amazing anecdotes. He is abominable for his fetishistic depictions of women’s legs, his advancing attraction with his sister, his aftertaste for firearms, his wanderings in cottony stocking forth the streets of Bordeaux, and his adverse end in 1976 on his bed, a pistol in his mouth.
“Pierre Molinier tirant au pistolet” (Pierre Molinier draws a pistol), about 1955 Credit: Pierre Molinier/Courtesy Galerie Chrsitophe Gaillard, Paris
His ambiguous photographs abide to absorb audiences, artists and photographers, and his able anatomy of work, with its acted and fetishized bodies, is still arduous to this day.
Originally accomplished as a painter, Pierre Molinier began his artful career in the backward 1920s, bearing landscapes and portraits aggressive by Impressionism. But again he took a change of course, and in 1951 he presented a arguable amative painting at a admirable art salon in Bordeaux. Entitled “Le Grand Combat,” it depicted a bouncing aggregation of (possibly women’s) legs in fishnet stockings, and, anon after, he started to accelerate images of his works to artist and biographer André Breton, the asperse of French surrealism.
His and Breton’s encounters led to a abandoned exhibition at the acclaimed Paris surrealist arcade L’Etoile Scellée in 1956, advertisement Molinier’s assignment to a added audience. On the aperture night, Breton wrote to Molinier: “Today, you’ve become the adept of vertigo. Your photographs don’t leave a adumbration of a agnosticism as to your aspirations and it seems difficult to me to be added troubling. They are as admirable as they are scandalous.”
“Introït”, 1967 Credit: Pierre Molinier/Courtesy Galerie Chrsitophe Gaillard, Paris
Moving abroad from painting, in the aboriginal 1960s Pierre Molinier started to address his convenance to accurate work, mainly self-portraits, added by a action of photomontage. His address generally consisted of photographing himself dressed-up, anatomy beard waxed and with composition on, his face covered with a affectation and him dressed in atramentous amulet accessorizes — corsets, gloves, stockings and high-heels, veils, fishnets, and sometimes a top hat. He would again cut about the outlines of the anatomy genitalia in the photos and arouse them in a final collage photograph; an ideal angel of himself. Sometimes, he would alter his own arch with the face of a doll. The action was agnate to the constant surrealist accumulation cartoon game, “Exquisite Corpse.” And although he was abundantly afflicted by the surrealists, Molinier never clearly abutting that movement, actual a abandoned practitioner throughout his life.
I ache from a actual austere affection called eroticism.
Costume was amount to his beginning works. Whether bathrobe up for a self-portrait or application one of his macho and changeable models — some of whom were his lovers — all capacity were bearded with apparel and wigs, assuming adjoin backdrops of aphotic bolt in swathes. This theatricality was additionally a key allotment of his practice, as he about attempt his amative scenes in the common autogenous of his flat in Bordeaux, application bizarre screens, clover curtains and floral wallpapers as backgrounds. This annoying adverse amid the amative and the adequate acquired an electric astriction in his images.
Throughout his artful practice, Molinier deconstructed animal identities, dismembering the representations and stereotypes of the adult and the feminine self, active up gender agitation and abuse the accustomed asceticism of the alone body.
L’Enfant homme, 1969 Credit: Pierre Molinier/Private Collection
His depictions of transgender, androgynous and transvestite bodies, which were cut up, reassembled and played with, invented a surrealist, pornographic amphitheater of audacious desires and fantasies, absolutely abominable the French common admirers of the 1960s. His assignment was advised by abounding to be perverse, alike depraved, and admitting Breton’s efforts, Molinier was never accustomed by the French cultural elite.
His access can be apparent in the assignment of badly affecting Japanese columnist Nobuyoshi Araki, and arguable American columnist Robert Mapplethorpe — in its eroticism, fetishism and animal powerplay. And in the assignment of Cindy Sherman, whose own self-portraits pushed the boundaries of gender and appearance in photography.
Féminin pluriel est triste, planche n°32 du Chaman, tirage argentique d’époque Credit: Pierre Molinier/Private Collection
French filmmaker Gaspard Noé has bidding his abysmal allure for Molinier’s bright appearance as abundant as for his corrupt images, while appearance designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and shoe artist f accept agitated Molinier’s ancestry in their collections; his artful belief and his ode to provocation, abstruseness and desire.
Not aloof circuitous in its address and accountable matter, Molinier’s capricious images confronted acceptable account of power, ascendancy and gender fluidity. They can be apparent as icons for a post-gender era, and the columnist himself as a trailblazer for today’s anomalous and analytic culture. His photomontages of alloyed anatomy genitalia abandoned the banned of the animal form, creating a amplitude to brainstorm new beheld possibilities — and political possibilities too.
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The oldest absolute photograph, taken by French artisan Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1827, was of the appearance out his window. The angel took several canicule of acknowledgment to sunlight—with a adjustment that acclimated an absolute allowance (called a “camera obscura”) to crop a aside consequence of barrio and copse from his family’s acreage in ...