Illuminating WSJ Photo-Op…

Thanks to this “Photo-Op: Idea Man” piece in the Weekend section of The Wall Street Journal, we got a glimpse of how light bulbs seemingly stimulated the imagination of artists in the early 1900s.

The picture they ran made you stop and think:

Finsler's 'Electric Light Bulb'

Finsler’s ‘Electric Light Bulb’

It is Hans Finsler’s 1927-28 photograph ‘Electric Light Bulb’ which shows “the contrast between the almost sculptural bulb, with its gleaming, sleekly rounded base.”  It also has the shadow of that light bulb which contains some interesting detail.  Makes you want to stop and study the picture.

The writeup also mentions an Italian painter, sculptor, stage designer and decorative artist named Giacomo Bella, who created a really interesting painting called “Street Light,” which emphasized dazzle of the light using a swarm of multicolored shapes.


The one we tried to track down (Google, Bing) was a reference to a 1913 Cubist collage by Picasso that includes a scrap from a newspaper ad for a brand of bulbs touted as the ‘only one to illuminate in all directions.’  Wish that was shown, but maybe the Journal ran into issues finding or getting permission to run it.

The point being, the illuminating effect of light bulbs and the light thrown off by them can be felt on a number of levels.  What was pragmatic (you could work longer hours) is also quite symbolic.

Kind of wished the Journal had a slide show to accompany this story online.

Oh well.

One more notable about the story was the mention of the Futurist movement:

Futurism, Italian Futurismo, Russian Futurizm,  early 20th-century artistic movement centered in Italy that emphasized the dynamism, speed, energy, and power of the machine and the vitality, change, and restlessness of modern life. During the second decade of the 20th century, the movement’s influence radiated outward across most of Europe, most significantly to the Russian avant-garde. The most significant results of the movement were in the visual arts and poetry.

Keep in mind, this is from over a hundred years ago.  We can probably learn a lot by revisiting the past.


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