Untitled (Wendt's Initials and Leica Camera)

Lionel Wendt Sri Lankan

Not on view

Born in 1900 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Lionel Wendt hailed from the Burgher community, a mixed race, prominent elite minority. Trained as a lawyer and concert pianist in England, Wendt only took up the medium of photography formally in the 1930s. A considered and well-researched photographer, Wendt eagerly kept abreast of technical developments in the field, and would gradually apply them to his work, at times combining a number of different techniques in a single photograph. Most popular amongst the techniques he experimented with are photograms, photomontage, double printing and solarization, the latter of which he encountered in reproductions of photographs by the American surrealist Man Ray. The subject of Wendt’s photographic output runs the gamut from a range of documentary images, to studio portraits, to more experimental photos.

The photograph Untitled (Wendt’s Initials and Leica Camera) can be regarded as a ‘self-portrait’. The image is composed of two rolls of 35 mm film which Wendt has formed into the shape of his initials ‘LW’. In the background he has inserted his Leica camera. The photograph combines a negative with a photogram, and it was this image that Wendt chose for the cover of the catalogue that was published in 1940 to accompany a solo exhibition of his work. It demonstrates his own inventiveness, but also his own artistic aspirations that he was exploring with the medium of photography.

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