Image above: Keld Helmer-Petersen, From the series, 122 Color Photographs, Untitled, 1948, Lambda Print, © Keld Helmer-Petersen, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
In a snub to the fine art photography world of the 1940s, Keld Helmer-Petersen dove into a full color photo medium. He juxtaposed mass-produced architecture and industrial objects, composing them in a way that would only be appealing in color. Exposing the beauty in everyday monotony by deconstructing the object into pure geometry and color saturation, the cool gray of concrete contrasts with a chocolate fence and grass so green it looks artificial. The colors make the photographs seem unrealistic, as if they were cut out and collaged, impossible to be naturally in the same environment.
Keld Helmer-Petersen, From the series, 122 Color Photographs, Untitled, 1948, Lambda Print, © Keld Helmer-Petersen, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
Keld Helmer-Petersen could be considered a pioneer of the unknown frontier of color photographs. He was the first to embrace it outside of its typical use in the advertisement and fashion industry. The Technicolor imagery is smooth and, today, nostalgic. His photos remind the viewer that splendor can be found everywhere if the attention is paid to the right detail. Inspired by the Bauhaus, the photographs are architectural and clean yet ambiguous. There is no meaning but vibrancy, form, and beauty.
The photos displayed in Helmer-Petersen’s first solo exhibition are selected from his book 122 Color Photographs. The book was his first claim to fame that sparked his recognition in the fine art world. These twenty-three prints chosen for the exhibition derive from his 35mm color transparencies and were printed during his lifetime. See the exhibition at Yossi Milo Gallery until August 29th.
Text by Ashley Minyard
Event photograph by Chad Smith