Australia 1900 – United States of America 1982
United States from 1919
Knitted-to-order sport clothes
gelatin silver photograph
image 44.0 (h) x 33.5 (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
Aspects of Surrealist art became a fashionable style in the 1930s, widely adopted by many photographers. Unexpected juxtapositions, unusual shifts of scale, the confusing use of mannequins and reference to classical myth became signatures of the style. Bruehl’s 1932 Bonwit Teller knitwear advertisement shows a nude female bound in yarn, inspired perhaps by the legend of Ariadne of Crete, who guided Theseus out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth using a trail of red wool. The nude looks lifelike, but she was in fact a three-foot high wooden figure. A successful advertisement that garnered praise and increased sales, its surreal quality was not accidental: Bruehl had assisted the eccentric and famous Spanish artist Salvador Dalí with his 1932 window displays for Bonwit Teller’s Fifth Avenue store.