This post wasn't going to be about Andre Kertesz, but when I made this picture a couple days ago, I thought of him because of that sad, droopy Gerber daisy. Kertesz' iconic photograph "Melancholic Tulip" was one of the earliest pictures I added to my personal collection and one that I continue to love today. His black and white picture of a bending tulip was made in 1939. He had moved to NYC after agreeing to do contract work for the Keystone Agency in 1936. As it turned out, he was not happy being confined to his studio and ended up cancelling the contract a year later. Sadly, the progress of the war made his return to Paris impossible. Being where he didn't want to be, he was disillusioned and sad, and he began to interpret this melancholy with his camera.
Much later, following the loss of his wife Elizabeth to lung cancer in 1977, Kertész was left alone in New York. He retreated into the safe confines of his apartment. A small glass bust, whose figure reminded him of Elizabeth, became a talisman for his recovery process. Kertész worked through his overwhelming grief, obsessively shooting the bust alone and placing it among other artifacts he and Elizabeth had collected together over the years. Taken from within his apartment, he photographed many still-lifes by placing personal objects against cityscape backgrounds, which were often reflected and modulated by glass surfaces. They became powerful metaphors of life, love, loss, death and mortality.
While I would never put my photograph I made of the Gerber daisies anywhere near the important pictures made by Andre Kertesz, the sadness I was feeling this past Sunday afternoon as I was lying on the couch was so clearly reflected in the fading flowers nearby that I rose up, reached for my camera and made the picture.
Making pictures is really just a way of looking in the mirror. Photographers like Andre Kertesz taught me that.
It's comforting to know that there's a long history of other photographers who might have been in a similar state on a Sunday afternoon and who used their camera to convey and possibly dissect their own emotions.
Just like I did.