The Vortographs of Alvin Langdon Coburn


As you may have seen I've posted a photograph of Wyndham Lewis on this blog.  He was the dynamic leader of the Vorticist movement in Britain that commenced in the summer of 1914. Due to my interest in him I have discovered something I didn't know existed: Vortographs. These were the photographs taken by Alvin Langdon Coburn, who was connected with the movement. I only discovered these recently so I know little about them or him but it's great to find something which is new to me, so I thought I would put a few examples here.  He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was an amateur photographer until he met with Edward Steichen.  In 1903 he joined with Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Gertrude Kasebier and Clarence White in forming the Photo-Secession group.

Around 1904 he came to London and subsequently met with the Vorticists. This group included Percy Wyndham Lewis, Helen Saunders, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jessica Dismorr, Charles Nevinson, Dorothy Shakespear and William Roberts.






Gelatin silver print from 1917


During this time he began experimenting with photographs of crystals, using a triangular mirror called a Vortoscope. This experimentation resulted in images of angular forms which echo the Vorticist aesthetic of abstract angles and planes. They were the first completely abstract photographs ever taken. Through this work he pioneered non-objective photography, however, he didn't stay with the technique for very long.




The Eagle 1917
Gelatin silver print



Gelatin silver print from 1917


Here's an early self-portrait of him from 1905 looking a bit moody.

Alvin Langdon Coburn
1882-1966







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