Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Alvin Langdon Coburn

Most of the available portraits of Andrew Lang show him sporting fierce Victorian whiskers of the kind that put the fear of God into the Russians at Sebastopol, but there's one image taken late in life which shows him shaven and shorn, almost boyish- and really quite approachable. Who took it? Why, Alvin Langdon Coburn, of course.

Coburn was responsible for many of the defining- and certainly the best- portraits of Edwardian writers and artists, British, American and French. His Yeats is unforgettable, likewise his Rodin. His Gertrude Stein is so like the famous portrait by Picasso that I think Pablo must have nicked the pose. He was also a great landscape photographer- creator of many familiar images of hazy, magical London and thrusting, vertiginous New York. He experimented with colour and- under the influence of Ezra Pound- that great enabler of greatness in others- produced some of the first purely abstract photographs. Then, having done all he could with the medium, he more or less abandoned photography to spend the rest of his life as a hermetic philosopher. Born in Boston, USA, he eventually took British citizenship, became a Freemason and a Druid and died in Wales.

Remarkable man. Remarkable artist. Images here
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