Tuesday, November 18, 2008



Thanks to C.H. I can identify the source of the wonderful pictures in this and the previous post. It's "Retro Atelier," a studio in Russia. According to their manifesto (I love manifestos...maybe Theory Corner needs one) they intend to shamelessly ransack the past for lost ideas that we can use in the present. Good for them! We're desperately in need of it!


Thanks also to Frank (himself a professional photographer), who wrote to Retro Atelier to find out who was responsible for all this. He was answered by the art director, Alex Galushkoff who said that the studio consists of himself, a photographer, set designer, costume designer, hair dresser and Photoshop master. The names of the models are all on the site.

It's hard to look at these pictures (above) without imagining stories to go with them. I picture the guy above as the character Emil Jannings played in "Blue Angel." The man is a respectable professor whose career unravels when he falls in love with a worldly cabaret singer.

As with all the pictures here, be sure to click to enlarge.

Wouldn't you kill to make a film with an actress like this (above)? She's the perfect villain! She looks like Edith Evans, the evil housekeeper in "Rebecca."

Nice color (above), and an interesting pose to set it off!

Uh-oh! The spirit of a beautiful girl (above) is either vanishing into, or emerging from the next world.

A gangster (above) plays cat and mouse with his frightened girlfriend. He talks about the horrible things he'd do to the fink who ratted him out. Does he suspect that she did it, or is he just toying with her?

Here's (above) a photo that looks like a fauve/futurist/cubist synthesis. A room full of naked women is probably more plausible in a painting than a photo; still, when seen large, it's really impressive!

Ah, the rich girl (above)...spoiled with Daddy's money, who hangs out with the wrong crowd and who requires the services of a private detective to extricate her. Sounds like something from "The Smoker," doesn't it?

Whatever she (above) heard on the phone has left this girl shattered. Now she has a choice to make: kill herself, or kill the boyfriend who betrayed her.

A nervous girl at a party (above) overhears a man introduce himself as a private detective. Just what she needs! If only it's not too late!

A woman emerges from a room (above) where she has just killed the rich man who threatened to send her back to the gutter. She's not worried. She knows a private detective is on the way, and she'll arrange to have him blamed for the murder.

An idealistic, "Marjorie Morningstar"-type (above). This treatment would be great for commercial portraiture, if you had the right subject and could take the time to do it right. Of course the effect is probably much harder to achieve than I realize.

Retro Atelier tried some 60s-style photography (above), but even that noble studio couldn't make the hippie era work. The 60s had style, but it was also a revolt against style. Everything then was loose and sloppy.

Another of Retro's failures (Above). I hate to dwell on negatives, because I'm such a fan of that studio, but it's a measure of their success that even what may be mistakes are worth discussing.

The attitude of the girl in the picture above is too ironic for my taste. She looks ready to smirk, and that undermines the reality of the picture. The hardest thing for a modern artist to project is simple sincerity.

Back to what Retro does well (above)...a beautiful Deco portrait.

Finally, a woman wearing a Deco-style veil (above). John makes fun of veils all the time, and I used to think veils were ungainly, but that's because I'd only seen the fishnet types. Imagine a mysterious and pretty face beckoning you into the shadows, and over her face is a delicate, vaguely menacing and supernatural pattern like the one above. Surely what she'd tell you would be the prelude to a life-changing adventure!

BTW: "LOVE NERDS," the new Theory Corner dating service, is up and running! Check it out:


Jennifer said...

Aaaaahhh Uncle Eddie! You forgot to warn about the nudity (in case someone is looking at this at work or at school)! :)

Seriously, those photos are really breathtaking. They're very artistic. Also, the poses and the lighting are really flattering to the subjects. I wonder if there is an equivalent studio here in the States.

I can't wait to see your new site!

trevor thompson said...

My only complaint about this studio is the same complaint I have about Playboy: What do you have against the vagina?*

Why is it always in the shadows or hidden under a tuft of pubic hair? Why is it sacred and breasts and rumps are not?

As for the sixties photos, I wonder what they were going for. It looks like they wanted the one shown here to be more of a personal photo, as opposed to one made by professionals, and that's something that almost never gets done right. Whenever a studio ( movie or otherwise ) tries to make something look amateur, they always fall short.

Ah well. I love this studio regardless. Great find, Eddie!

- trevor.

*I know what I'd like to have against it! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, saynomore.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jennifer: Thanks! I meant to put a warning up and forgot. I just went back and added it.

Frank and Hans put up links to a couple of American studios that do this sort of thing. They're in the previous comments page.

Trevor: The problem is, that viewers can't help but fixate on genitals and showing them undermines whatever other purpose the artist had in mind.

pappy d said...

What a find, Eddie!

I agree with you about vagina. It's too powerful. I remember an incident in the 70's; my art teacher telling us, "There's no model today. Draw what you like." I drew it big, too. She stole my idea & did a one-woman show entitled "Cleavages".

I think the professor was played by Emil Jannings.

Cock-a-doodle-doo! to you & yours.


trevor thompson said...

But how do you know people aren't fixating on the botties and boobies? They're out for all to see, why be prejudiced to the one private part for which we're all in-debted?

You may have never come in a vagina, but you sure as Susan came out of one.

Also, will the Love Nerds site be comprehensive, or a just-fer-fun kinda thing?

- trevor.

PS: My apolgies to Jennifer and all Theory Corner readers who are stuck in an office that frowns on this sort of discussion. If I've offended you, let me know and I'll buy you a pie.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Trevor: Comprehensive? I'm posting videos which I hope will get people dates or jobs. How effective that is depends on the videos.

Anonymous said...

People didn't smirk in the 20s and 30s? Anyway, her expression doesn't read as undermining the setup at all IMHO. But each to his own(impressions).

Anonymous said...

My favourite from this lot has to be the girl on the phone. The mood and the look on her face are striking, to say the least. (She kinda reminds me of Gene Tierney or Hedy Lamarr)
I gotta admit though, that I was mildly disappointed to find out that the aged look was photoshopped (or so it would seem). I prefer the idea of using vintage equipment for a vintage look, along with a classic film like plus-x or kodachrome*. Can't deny the role of optics and chemistry in this sort of thing...
Then again, I'm far too obsessed with period accurracy.

C. H.

*hmmm, since Kodachrome appears to be on its last leg, perhaps I oughta go back to colour separation photography... but I digress.

Anonymous said...

It was indeed Emil Jannings in the 1930 "The Blue Angel" movie. Josef Von Sternberg was the director. A great film if you can ever catch it intact.

buzz said...

Great website link, Eddie! Thanx!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Emil Jannings!!!!! Aaaaargh! How could I have been so stupid? Thanks! I'll go back and change it.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Pappy: Ditto the above. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I dunno what you're talking about. Hippie bitches are awesome.

Gerard D. de Souza said...

"My only complaint about this studio is the same complaint I have about Playboy: What do you have against the vagina?*
Why is it always in the shadows or hidden under a tuft of pubic hair? Why is it sacred and breasts and rumps are not?"
Trevor,roundness has relative visual simplicity and appeal: teddy bears, babies, baby animals, Mickey Mouse, Happy Face icons, firm breasts, bottoms, the curves in the negative space of such fit models.
I've been told this is called psychomorphological (spelling?) appeal. I don't know whether it is the result of the subject matter of which you speak or the perspective of the viewer (me) but inclusion of the private area changes the subject from a overall appreciation of the figure to one of .....uh...gynecological interest. Again that maybe a cultural or a sexual orientation subjectivity but I think artistically the texture of the subject plays a part in where the viewer's attention goes.
The problem with the Hippie-era 60s attempt is that it is a romanticized caricature. Being a Russian studio they have a better grasp of an arty European feel. Even the Americanized Pin-up with the 54 chev presents some anachronisms (string bikini top with the U.S. Flag motif, 40s style hair) (but who's complaining.
When I think of genuine Hippie photos I think of film from gritty-dirty Woodstock or pictures from Haight Ashbury era; not as all Utopian as the ideal aimed for back then. Or otherwise I think of commercial photography wether playboy, or the Eaton's catalogue in which those hippie inspired styles were a few years behind the times to make it into the mainstream. Those are probably the two sources they should try to emulate for the mid to late 60s (comercial and documentary). Otherwise it looks like a couple friends going out on a modern halloween as hippies. The show Mad Men does a wonderful job of the early 60s. Hope it doesn't deteriorate into Happy Days anachronisms and lose track of time.

Molly said...

I would absolutely kill to be photographed by them.

Love your blog, Eddie :)