Photographs by Loretta Lux.
88 pp., 40 four-color illustrations, 9¼x9¾".
In her debut monograph, German photographer Loretta Lux presents a luscious series on childhood. After carefully choosing the models, clothing, and backdrops, she digitally manipulates and combines each element to form a richly layered montage. The resulting photographs blur the lines between painting and photography in a way that creates an engaging tension. The children clearly possess a photographic presence, yet the environment, by contrast, is more painterly—indeed, more often than not, her paintings provide the background. Such painterly sensibilities coupled with her lavish attention to fabrics and texture and her deliberate choice of pale, pensive subjects create a sophisticated visual pleasure. The resulting photographs evoke conflicted feelings of childhood wonderment and ennui, innocence and worldliness; her young subjects appear wise and cherubim at the same time. They hint at darker fairy tales without direct reference and seem to give off whispers of childhood secrets. One of the best rewards of looking at the work as a series comes from seeing some of the same children and expressions manipulated into completely altered environs. In one, Maria is portrayed with an absorbed expression against a sparse backdrop, and in another she's patting her hands together, against a tree-lined background. Through these manipulated portraits, Lux explores not just her individual subjects, but touches on the larger idea of childhood itself. - Denise Wolff
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