Andre’s Lost Cloud

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What is it about clouds that so captures the imagination of photographers? Since the earliest days of photography clouds have been a favorite subject. Alfred Stieglitz saw equivalents of his emotional states in clouds in the early part of the last century and from then on clouds were a Rorschach for photographers who saw in them everything they saw in themselves.

From Stieglitz to Minor White who took up Stieglitz’s mantle of the photograph as an “Equivalent” to one’s emotional state to Paul Caponigro, student of Minor White. Paul Caponigro has created one of my favorite cloud photographs; Cloud and Tree, New Mexico. The image is a meeting of two spirits. The white cloud is powerful, it is lion like. It addresses the spirit of all that is earthly and graceful. The black spirit dances.

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The image at the beginning of this post is one I took recently and it is a candidate for inclusion in my Up series. As I looked at this photo I thought to myself that I have seen that cloud before. Much the same way I would have said of a person who looked vaguely familiar. Then it hit me. It was Andre Kertesz’s Lost Cloud!

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Kertesz created this image shortly after arriving in New York from France. One afternoon he observed a solitary white cloud lost in a huge blue sky, dwarfed by the monolithic presence of the Rockefeller Center. To Andre Kertész that cloud represented himself and how he felt as a newly arrived immigrant. He felt like something “subject to the prevailing winds.”  That lonely, lost cloud has travelled long and far and it crossed my path not too long ago.

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