Florence Henri: Mirror of the Avant-Garde, 1927–40
Photographs by Florence Henri
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Florence Henri’s work occupied a central place in the world of avant-garde photography in the late 1920s, and this survey pays homage to her essential, but under-recognized contribution. This comprehensive publication offers an unprecedented overview of Henri’s work, produced between 1927 and 1940, and includes her iconic self-portraits and still lifes as well as lesser-known portraits of her contemporaries, photomontages, collages, and documentary work.
László Moholy-Nagy, a supporter and her contemporary, is quoted as saying: “With Florence Henri’s photos, photographic practice enters a new phase—the scope of which would have been unimaginable before today. Above and beyond the precise and exact documentary composition of these highly defined photos, research into the effects of light is tackled not only through abstract photograms, but also in photos of real-life subjects. . . . ”
Henri remains an inspiration for photographers, artists, and design enthusiasts who see her work as masterfully executed illustrations and experimentation in perspective and composition; a connective thread that is as relevant to today’s experimentation with the medium as it was in its day.
Florence Henri (born in New York, 1893; died in Compiègne, France, 1982) initially studied painting at the Academie Moderne, Paris. In 1928, she turned to photography after spending a semester at the Dessau Bauhaus. Henri continued to make photographs until WWII, when the Nazi occupation of France forbid her photographic style and materials became difficult to source. She turned her attention to abstract painting and continued to paint until her death in the early 1980s.
Marta Gili is director of the Jeu de Paume, Paris and also acts as a curator and art critic. She was formally the director of visual arts at Fundacio la Caixa in Barcelona and continues to teach graduate classes in Europe.
Cristina Zelich is a photo historian, freelance curator and author of The White Book of Catalan Photographic Heritage (1996). She has collaborated on many publications and recently curated an exhibition on Lisette Model.
Susan Kismaric is a curator in the department of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has been a visiting photography critic at Yale School of Art, and teaches at Fordham University.
Giovanni Battista Martini manages the Florence Henri estate and worked very closely with the artist on her archive prior to her death in 1982