Text from the website by Rrose Selaby:
Stéphane Lallemand was born in 1958, Strasbourg, and he was an artist who well knows his job. What I mean is not that he “knows” how to make photographs, but I would like to refer to the role consciousness played by his work in a kind of relationship with the preceding History of art.
S. Lallemand exploits some techniques we can observe in his series of pinhole or in the one of salted paper, such as his sculptural and also disquieting propositions. The way he uses these initial and photographic techniques may lead us to understand the theoretical and plastic fundaments from which he links up his creation. We must pay attention to the fact that Lallemand gets onto photography as a manual and artisanal process; this seems to be a good starting point for us to understand, in a perfect way, another series which is names “Alte Pinakothek”.
Ingres, Dürer, Poussin, Manet, Courbet and Boucher, are some of the painters from whom Lallemand has gotten inspired for the composition of his series of photographs. This is not a new idea as indeed just after the invention of photography, during the second part of the XIX century, a lot of photographers (and among them some were painters) intended to transport, in this new medium, the plastics rigor and subjects we find in the art of paiting. This leads to the pictorialist trend; but at that time there was already, as there is nowadays, an important abîme between painting and photograph, of what Lallemand is completely aware.
It is necessary to know how it is difficult to make a photographic lens catch a picture which, in a way, is similar to a pictorial work. It works precisely as an absolute control of point of view, light and elements which form the image and its scene.
Mr Lallemand accomplishes this so carefully that it leads to some results such as delightful pictures. But sometimes he brings a conscious carelessness to his work, which would prevent the photographer to create in a complete way.
In some pictures, we pay an authentic tribute to some masters of painting, and this homage coexists with a kind of unconcerned irony, with a kind of distance which may not be far from a private joke, a game, sketch without any more pretension than a focusing on vision practicing: that is to say, the confrontation between two completely different ways of expressing oneself. Then, it would be a mistake to lapse into mimetic as indeed it would cancel the meaning of these pictures.
It was not by chance
that Lallemand chose, as an object of creation, the famous engraving of Dürer
which was part of the second edition of his “Underweysung der Messung”
(Nuremberg, 1538). It is an important work dealing with some scientific rudiments
that every artist of his time should master.
The original picture and Lallemand’s photographic version (and its title evokes the polemical Courbet’s drawing) codify two permanent traits of the Western history of art, at two different level: first we have a logical and scientific notion of the perspective, and secondly we have a notion where the artist is considered as a voyeur not only in his sexual meaning, but also as being a meticulous observer of reality in general.
There is something
similar in Lallemand’s reconstruction of Ingres’works : it is
well established that the master of the French academic nude brought his way
painting logic to the limit of what is anatomically possible. And indeed,
this provoked a great number of questionings and debates (which were free)
about the virtual vertebra which was added to the Baigneuse de Valpinçon
and the Grande Odalisque.
Then, a question is raised: the plastic one, which lacks of interest, and not the anatomic one. Indeed, Lallemand photographically tackles and resolves this questioning in a brilliant way. This is a crucial point in the manner these pictures approach the questioning.
But we could also
consider that they are postmodern distractions, a kind of creation of a game
which would fill most of us with enthusiasm; that is to say recreating some
undeniable moments of the history of art and then appropriating them in order
to get into the scenes center. In this case, the series looks like the some
artists’ approach such as Yasumasa Morimura’s.
This is why, sometimes, Lallemand appears in his own photographs; in this way he tries to bring a grating and amusing touch. This corresponds to the gesture of an authentic satyr, but a satyr who well knows what he does, how and why he does it.
Despite these reasoning, we could also say that, all in all, it only deals with erotic photographs and in fact, for that reason, all that precedes may just be considered as a kind of excuse which gives an intellectual surface to the erotic delirium of a dirty old man.
Very well then! I think that we can reconcile these two aspects: erotic photograph are naturally exempt from reasonable and interesting discourse, just as, on principle, the most serious thoughts around these pictures mustn’t ignore sense of humor either sexual dimension, as it is the case here:
study has been realized by a group of American searchers and it apparently
tends to prove that a daily practice, composed of a focusing look at feminine
seduction, would prevent masculine individuals from cardiovascular diseases.
It appears that most of the artists already knew the results of this study since the most remote antiquity.
As I am about fifty years old, I decided to prevent myself from coronary risks with a constant practice of art, a warming-up of the optic nerve, even if I exhaust a theme which is as old as the hills.”
we must keep in mind the fact that Ingres used to conceive perfect and idealized
and impossible and incomprehensible bodies. And so the erotic picture is freed
from doubts and palliatives. As it creates an ineffable pleasure at checking
how beautifully these bodies develop, here, an agreement of reality. This
takes parts in our pleasure which, in drawings, was forbidden by some technical
and moral imperatives: the real of authentic morbidness, the imperfection
of skin, spots, the untameable nature of hair and down and the presence of
a tattoo or else traces of bathing. These are elements which quote the pictorial
model so that they permit this model to be enriched by rooting it in our times,
by inscribing it in categories which belongs to a yet old heritage through
which photography went with us, by making us see new portions of what is visible.
Marcel Duchamp barely spoke freely and his words appear to constitute the centre of what is to be studied now. Indeed, he stood that he had never felt entirely close to Dadaism so as he had never felt entirely close to Surrealism, and he said that even if he happened to commune with one institution, it could only have been the one of Eroticism.
This assertion proved equal to his work and maybe well explained Lallemand’s photographs. Indeed they moved from painting to photographing, what these pictures reveal, with constancy more permanent than the technique that they appropriated in order to express themselves: this is the pleasure of vision.
Rrose Selaby author of the blog Maquinariadelanube