Well, I was planning to do an article on the Ana Torrent film El nido first, but I haven’t even got the film stills ready yet, so I will do it later this month. Meanwhile, I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way, because I know some of you have been eagerly anticipating it. So let’s get started, shall we?
The first two pieces are from a Russian photographer I’ve featured before, who went by the name Mastadont at whatever photography site I pulled these from. The first piece is a reference to a character from Slavic mythology, a water nymph called a Rusalka. But I especially like the second image. It’s a lively piece, and one of the little girls almost seems to be dancing atop the rainbow that dissects the image.
Now here’s a painting by Donald Zolan, who is known for producing highly popular if somewhat kitschy paintings of children. Any one of dozens of his works could fit into this post, but I really like this one of a young girl stooping down to get a better look at a monarch caterpillar. Zolan will eventually get an entire post devoted to his work, but for now we’ll have to settle for this one. The artist himself passed away in 2009, but his art lives on and is as popular as ever.
The Zolan Company (official site)
This is a strange image. The little girl is topless, which is odd considering the time and place the photo was taken: Coney Island, New York in the early ’90s. Unlike in Europe or other parts of the world, little girls going topless at an American beach is highly unusual, to say the least. Moreover, bucking the usual trend for these kinds of photos, this girl does not appear to be very happy. She’s frowning, and her arms are crossed defensively. Award-winning photographer Rineke Dijkstra is Dutch, but perhaps her subject here was not, and while Dijkstra clearly saw nothing out of the ordinary in having this girl pose topless, the girl herself seems less than thrilled at the prospect. Then again, the little redhead could be upset about something entirely unrelated. Who knows? This subject is now an adult, and I’d be curious to learn what was actually going on in her head at the time this was taken.
This image has appeared on the blog before in one of the old Random Image of the Day posts, but I have eliminated that post and brought the image into this one. I know nothing about the photographer. This is another image I picked up from a photography site, probably Russian. I am intrigued by the girl’s pose—she stares up at the sky with a smile, and seems to wave at someone there, perhaps a passing angel, her hand lambent in the sunlight. I only wish the photo was slightly larger.
Frank Owen Salisbury’s work has appeared on this blog before as well. The interesting thing about Salisbury is that he was a conservative hardcore Methodist and a serious portraitist who painted the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and even John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) himself. And yet, Salisbury also painted this beautiful piece featuring two nude young girls. In fact, the girls were Salisbury’s own twin daughters, Monica and Sylvia. What?! Imagine, a man like Salisbury presenting his own preteen daughters to the world without a stitch!
Ah, but alas, how differently we have come to look upon the nude child since Salisbury’s time. Today a religious conservative like Salisbury would likely be protesting such images rather than painting them. One thing I’d like to point out here: although it’s subtle, if you look at the blond twin’s wrist, you can see she is wearing a very thin bracelet, an item that ever so slightly anchors this image to modernity. Finally, it is notable that the original version of this painting is currently housed at the National Trust Museum of Childhood, part of Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, England, which looks like an altogether fabulous place to visit if you’re ever in that part of England.
British photographer and art film director Tacita Dean took the next shot that focuses on a couple of toddlers who have clearly been enjoying a dip in a pool or pond or some such. Is it just me or does the little blond girl’s costume look to be crocheted or knitted? Whatever it is, it’s an odd choice for swimwear. Perhaps these outfits were not intended as bathing costumes at all and the water frolicking was all rather impromptu. This image has the warm, fuzzy feel of a snapshot from a family photo. Or, it could be a subtle advertisement for Johnson’s Baby Lotion.
Tacita Dean (official site)
The following piece was scanned from The Family of Children, a book I’ve drawn from before. The book contains another image of this girl from the same shoot, a closeup (bust and head) portrait, but I think this one is much more interesting. The girl looks to be preparing for a swim while a young couple (her parents?) make out on the ground behind her, completely oblivious to the girl’s presence. This image may have been shot at the original Woodstock festival—it has the right feel. I’m sure it comes from the hippie era: late ’60s/early ’70s. Because the source image was small, this is a little grainier than I’d prefer. I used the Gaussian blur feature in Photoshop to eliminate the halftone, but I didn’t want to overdo it or too much detail would’ve been lost. It’s a fine balancing act.
The photo was taken by Joan Liftin, who isn’t terribly well-represented on the web but should be. She has, in the course of her career, worked for the likes of the International Center of Photography, Magnum Photos and UNICEF, and she has edited books on other photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Charles Harbutt and Andrea Stern.
This next piece is a digital photo-manipulation piece by DeviantArt user Kayceeus. She works with stock photos and creates collages that she then manipulates until they resemble paintings. This one is particularly good, and had I not known, I might easily have mistaken this for an actual photo-realistic painting.
These next two photos are by Helen Eleeva. Because of the girl’s movement and the tilted angle in each, these images are dynamic. In the first photo, the girl is running along the beach with her dog. Caught mid-stride, she appears to float over the beach. In the second photo, we see her with arms outstretched and hair fanned out. Is she pretending to be a helicopter? Note how the other (tiny) figures in the shot have been relegated to the far upper right-hand corner. It’s an odd composition, to be sure, but it mostly works.
Along the same lines is this color piece by Swedish photographer and designer Jonas Elmqvist. Running with arms outstretched, the little girl is about to bolt past the frame of the image and leave it altogether. There’s something inherently true to the experience of childhood here. It reminds me of a beautiful quote by Michael Whitmore from his article Finders Keepers:
Children, like legends and rare books, are often on the verge of disappearing, and it is for those who have left the kingdom of childhood—that high-walled garden whose gate has always been left swinging in the background—to wonder where they’ve gone.
Another image borrowed from a Russian photography site. The thing that’s most striking about this image to me is how, though the one little girl is clearly nude, most of the other children (all of whom appear to be boys) are dressed in rather clean and modern-looking clothes. These kids aren’t counterculture types, I think; nudity is just accepted for young kids hanging out on a raft with their grandfather. But both the little girl and the boy sitting up front (a brother?) are also wearing crucifix necklaces. This is Russia after all—far different standards than in the US.
This piece is by Turkish painter Ali Özhan Güneş, who often paints scenes from nude beaches. Again, the interesting point here is the contrast between the two boys wearing swimsuits and the naked (except for sunglasses) little girl who is watching them. The boys seem to be completely oblivious to the naked girl beside them, but in a year or so that will likely all change.
Ali Özhan Güneş (official site)
This is a fun image. I’m not entirely sure what the girl is wearing as the splashing water obscures most of it, but it appears to be some sort of scouting or sporting outfit. The latter makes more sense based on the title. Spain won the FIFA World Cup in soccer in 2010, which would indicate this image dates from the same year. I know nothing about the photographer here.
Canadian photographer Valerie Rosen made a name for herself documenting life in the Near East, but she also works as a portrait and events photographer. I really love the pose this little girl is in. She looks like she’s about to tumble backwards, right onto her behind. Joy indeed.
Tom Chambers is my favorite artist in this post. As a photographer, he likes to create images that hover at the edge of surreality. If you visit no other sites linked in this article, don’t miss this one. There are plenty of little girls in his work, including a whole series from which this next image is taken. The concept and symbolism here are compelling for reasons that are difficult to quantify, but I’ll do my best. First there’s the contrast between the dark, massive, earthy beast and the airy, light and graceful girl who rides it, even as she mimics the sea bird flying nearby. The bird itself hovers over the horse’s head, as if representing the true nature of the horse, who may want to fly too. Thus we have a kind of spiritual triangle here: horse, girl and bird, all connected by the water and air around them and seeking the next level up from their usual conditions. The horse is much lighter in the water, the girl is higher and freer on the back of the horse, and the bird is the most liberated of them all. The horse is a Marwari, which come from India, a nation whose people are known for their spiritual connection to the elements.
Tom Chambers Photography (official site)
Carl Wilhelmson was a Swedish painter whose best work was produced during the first quarter of the 20th century. He was a student of Carl Larsson, and his work bears much resemblance to Larsson’s, but he also studied under Bruno Liljefors, whom he might’ve inherited his love of outdoor scenes from. He didn’t paint many nudes, but one of the few he did paint is our next image. The girl’s pose feels slightly stiff and forced, and she is a tad too centered, but the light flooding the scene, the muted colors and the paleness of the medium itself tend to counteract any overly formal aspects of the piece.
Wikipedia: Carl Wilhelmson (Site is in Swedish)
Last but not least . . . two photos from Mikael Anderrson. The close bond these children have is obvious, and I could look at dozens more photos featuring the two. I wonder where they are now?