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William Mortensen's Beautiful Witches Portraits Now at Buckland
22-08-2019, 06:14 AM
Post: #1
William Mortensen's Beautiful Witches Portraits Now at Buckland
f you are at all a fan of vintage Hollywood, photography, technique, history or just really want to see some fantastic portraiture, you will find it all in William Mortensen's Witches, now on view at the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick (2155 Broadview Rd.), in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. As we entered, we expected the work to be spread out, but it was on one wall and installed salon-style. In doing so, the museum did a wonderful service to the late artist and his art.

You may not have heard of Mortensen. There was a campaign by other photographers to wipe his name from history books. Ansel Adams referred to him as "the Anti-Christ," presumably for his unorthodox technique. Before Photoshop and Instagram filters, there was William Mortensen, master of photo manipulation. Using abrasion, metal chrome, color pigmenting, prismatic and all-color processing, Mortensen created a body of work from the grotesque to the sublime.

Reportedly, the infamous filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille gave Mortensen his first job as the still photographer for his film King of Kings. He then went on to become a giant in Hollywood, shooting for the magazine Vanity Fair and creating portraits of some of the greatest names at that time (the 1920s to '40s).

Schooled as a painter at the Art Students League in New York City, Mortensen was influenced by the Old Masters, which is quite evident in Witches. What we cannot escape in these portraits, aside from their hypnotic gaze, is the raw power and emotion that Mortensen has exorcised from his subjects.
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