Nude Study for La Cantate du Narcisse (1942) by Paul Valery

Laure Albin-Guillot French

Not on view

A successful portraitist and pioneer of microphotography, Albin-Guillot combined the lighting and soft edges of Pictorialist photography with a modernist approach to theme and composition. This work, made for a 1942 printed edition of the poem "La Cantate du Narcisse" ("The Song of Narcissus") by her friend Symbolist poet Paul Valéry, continues her exploration of the nude. Framed by the model’s darkly silhouetted neck and flank, the illuminated torso marks out a sinuous curve akin to ancient sculpture fragments like the Belvedere Torso. Simultaneously, it resonates with the themes of self, desire, and effacement that run through Valéry’s poem on Narcissus.

Nude Study for La Cantate du Narcisse (1942) by Paul Valery, Laure Albin-Guillot (French, Paris 1879?–1962 Nogent-sur-Marne), Gelatin silver print

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