Études de nu.
Paris: Librairie des Arts Décoratifs, .
Small 4to (226 × 163mm), pp., 24 photographic plates printed in gravure; tiny nick to edge of text leaves and three plates, minor crease to corners of two plates. Publisher’s white-cloth-backed orange paper-covered board portfolio, printed title-label to front, cloth fore-edge ties; minor rubbing to boards, bottom corner bumped, small mark to spine, wear to hinges. An excellent copy in a custom-made clamshell box.
First edition. Germaine Krull (1897–1985) was an integral member of the international avant-garde based in Paris. She established her reputation as a pioneer of modern photography in the 1920s and ‘30s through her contributions to magazines and journals including Variétés, Bifur, Vu, Jazz, Art et Médecine, and L’Art vivant. More significantly, and unlike other photographers of her generation, she published a number of books as sole author: Métal (1928), 100 x Paris (1929), Études de nu (1930), Le Valois (1930), La Route Paris-Biarritz (1931), and Marseille (1935). In 1926 she was the only female photographer whose work was represented at the Salon d’Automne in Paris, and in 1928 she was included in the Premier Salon indépendant de la photographie moderne (Salon de I’escalier), two exhibitions that introduced and influenced modern photography in France. In the following years she was included in a number of other important exhibitions that have come to define modern photography between the wars, these included: Fotografie der Gegenwart which debuted at Museum Folkwang, Essen in 1929; Internationale Ausstellung des Deutschen Werkbunds Film und Foto (FiFo) which debuted at Städtische Ausstellungshallen, Stuttgart in 1929; Exposition internationale de la photographie, at the Palais des beaux-arts, Brussels in 1932 and Exposition de l’AEAR–Documents de la vie sociale at Galerie de la Pléiade, Paris in 1935.
Études de nu comprises twenty-four photo-gravures depicting female nudes. The introduction begins with a quote attributed to Jean Cocteau, ‘Miroir réformant.’ This is a reference to a letter which was reprinted as the introduction to a portfolio of Krull’s images in the second issue of Le Courrier littéraire (1930), in which Cocteau wrote, ‘You are a reforming mirror. You and the camera obscura realize a new world, a world that fuses machinery with a soul.’ Gerry Badger suggests that, ‘The great fascination of Etudes de nu is in observing Krull’s struggle with the conventions of the nude genre, her own sensibilities, and the restrictions regarding the photographic nude that pertained even in Paris.’
Parr and Badger, The Photobook: A History vol.I p.78.