Australia 1900 – United States of America 1982
United States from 1919
La India, Cuernavaca
[The Indian, Cuernavaca]
gelatin silver photograph
image 34.9 (h) x 27.4 (w) cm
Gift of American Friends of the National Gallery of Australia, Inc., New York, NY, USA, made possible with the generous support of Anton Bruehl Jr, 2006.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Despite the strong light and modern angles, the overall rather sombre and reflective mood of the photographs that Bruehl made in Mexico is one that looks back to the Pictorial movement. Primarily the work is homage to his teacher and mentor Clarence H White. It is also influenced by the early 20th century Pictorial studies of Native-Americans by Edward Curtis published in twenty volumes between 1907 and 1930 and by photographs made by filmmaker Robert J Flaherty of the Inuit (Bruehl’s friend and fellow White alumnus, Ralph Steiner had printed the photogravures for Flaherty’s book, Nanook of the North in 1923). Later Bruehl commented that ‘ninety-nine times out of a hundred a straight head on shot is the most effective’. Extreme close-ups are used to great effect in the Mexican portfolio – the sitters stare into the lens with great intimacy and openness.