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Frantisek Drtikol

Drtikol created a monumental body of work–from early Pictorialist and Art Nouveau portraits and landscapes to the influential nude studies of the 20s and 30s–that has permanently established his place in the history of photography. While making his living from custom portrait photography in the Art Nouveau style, he experimented with oil and gum printing and other Pictorialist techniques, creating lyrical landscapes and some of the earliest fine-art nudes produced in Bohemia. Eventually, the nude would become Drtikol’s primary mode of photographic expression. In the 1920s he developed the unique style for which he is best known, using Cubist and Art Deco sculptural motifs, elements of Expressionist dance, and ingenious geometric patterns of shadow and light to create dynamic nudes in which the body, no longer serving an illustrative or metaphorical purpose, became a purely aesthetic and erotic motif. In 1935, Drtikol abandoned photography and devoted himself to painting and to the theosophical, Bhuddist, and other philosophical studies that had informed much of his art.