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Francis Bruguiere (US, 1879-1945)
The Golden Gate
Autochrome, circa 1915. 7 x 5 inches

The Golden Gate is the strait that connects San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. Since 1937, it has been spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge.

The region is often obscured by fog, but the atmospheric effects in this Autochrome are actually the work of a soft-focus lens chosen by the photographer. By waiting for just the right angle of the sun, Bruguiere has also imparted a supernatural glow to the ancient tree in the foreground. This image is not intended as a literal transcription of the scene; it is not really concerned with the land or the water or the tree or the passing tall ship. Instead, this Autochrome is an attempt to convey a mood, a feeling, and a sense of a particular moment illuminated with warm, golden light. It is, in short, an artistic expression of what the artist sensed and felt.

Bruguiere, like George Seeley, was a Fellow of the Photo-Secession, joining the group in 1905 at the invitation of Alfred Stieglitz. Although his early images are in the pictorialist style favored by fine art photographers at the start of the 20th century, Bruguiere later moved into completely abstract works. Many of these were created with cut strips of paper lit by a single spotlight, then photographed. Bruguiere, it was said, had an obsession with light, an obsession that shows in his abstractions. "The photographer has the choice," he observed, "of either dealing with the things that can be seen, or of creating his own world." In this Autochrome, it can be argued, Bruguiere has managed to do a little of both.

This image was formerly in the collection of the photographer Imogen Cunningham




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