Sunday, June 20, 2010

never met a girl like you before

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983) was a self-taught artist from Wisconsin. He worked in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and poetry. Below are images of his wife Marie (Eveline Kalke Von Bruenchenhein - "Marie").

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Photograph of the Artist's Wife Marie, 1940s, 9 1/4 x 7 1/8"

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Montage Photograph of the Artist's Wife Marie, 1940s,9 1/8 x 7 1/8"

"Von Bruenchenhein met his wife Marie in 1939 during a visit to Wisconsin State Fair Park, located just a few blocks from his family's home. After a three-and-one-half-year courtship, they began a forty-year marriage that ended only with the artist's death in 1983. Beginning in the early 1940s, Marie became the subject of literally thousands of black-and white photographs taken by him. He developed the prints himself in their bathroom.

Inspired by the 1940s pinup aesthetic, Von Bruenchenhein's photographs are strangely erotic tableaux. They often feature Marie posed seminude before lush, floral cloth backdrops. She also appears enveloped in yards of bright satin or draped in imitation leopard skin and other patterned fabrics. In many images, she wears multiple pearl necklaces or dons a sparkling make-believe crown fashioned by the artist from a tin can and Christmas tree ornaments. Marie, transformed by her exotic costuming, assumed the fictional roles of seductress, ingenue, glamour queen, pinup girl, and movie star, all before the relentless voyeuristic gaze of Von Bruenchenhein's camera. During the 1950s, Marie enacted even more lavishly costumed charades for a series of over two thousand color slide images. She also helped her husband to hand color many of his earlier photographs of her."

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, 35 mm Color Slide Image of the Artist's Wife Marie, 1950s

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, 35 mm Color Slide Image of the Artist's Wife Marie, 1950s

"Marie! Marie!
I long for you thru the dusky,
Hollow, fading, years.
The memory of blossom lips;
Of starry eyes; of devine being,
Mingle to form a picture,
Where the sole joy of living
Manifests itself in the laughter
And lovliness of youth!
The tremor of a singing heart;
The whisper of a soft voice;
The movement of a summer blossom
In summers breezes;
Virtues that permeate the very
Charm of living!

Oh Marie! These and these alone
I would remember.
For these were you!"
(poem by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein)

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Eugene Thinks of Marie: Montage by Eugene, 1940s,
10 x 5 1/2"

(source for photographs, poem and quote: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Obsessive Visionary, published by John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin © 1988)

Looking at the photograph above, Eugene Thinks of Marie: Montage by Eugene, makes me think about sources of inspiration and creativity, and the role of the artist's muse, and Carl Jung's concept of the anima ...

"The anima is a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man's psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature, and-- last but not least-- his relation to the unconscious. It is no mere chance that in olden times priestesses (like the Greek Sibyl) were used to fathom the divine will and to make connection with the gods.

A particularly good example of how the anima is experienced as an inner figure in a man's psyche is found in the medicine man and prophets (shamans) among the Eskimo and other arctic tribes. Some of these even wear women's clothes or have breasts depicted on their garments, in order to manifest their inner feminine side -- the side that enables them to connect with the "ghost land" (i.e., what we call the unconscious).

One reported case tells of a young man who was being initiated by an older shaman and who was buried by him in a snow hole. He fell into a state of dreaminess and exhaustion. In this coma he suddenly saw a woman who emitted light. She instructed him in all he needed to know and later, as his protective spirit, helped him to practice his difficult profession by relating him to the powers of the beyond. Such an experience shows the anima as the personification of a man's unconscious.

...The most frequent manifestations of the anima takes the form of erotic fantasy..."

(source for quote: Man and His Symbols by Carl G. Jung, published by Dell Publishing Co., New York, NY © 1964)

Edwyn Collins - A Girl Like You

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