Gerda Taro “Truck on Fire, Brunete, Spain.” 1937
Discussing the work of Gerda Taro is a tricky one. Taro had a very short and under represented career. Most of her images were taken along side the great Robert Capa – who is partially to blame for her being ill-represented. Getting a chance to see her prints in person, I was immediately attracted to this image titled “Truck on fire, Brunete, Spain.”
I find an attraction to this image in its flawed form. This image was made towards the end of her short career. I also want to note this was one of the few images we saw without people in it. The point of view is odd in my opinion but thats what makes it interesting. Its Depiction and non depiction of death draws me in, so does the motion of flames. Its feeling has a different quality then her other images. These are a few reasons why I can start recalling it to other works reminiscent of its aura and content.
Sam Shere “Hindenburg Disaster” 1937
I immediately recalled the image of the Hindenburg going down. Its form (although a different vehicle) is very similar to the image of Taro’s. We can see the blimp is on its way to destruction, just like the truck. The image is dark like Taros – due to the exposure of the fire. This disaster was heavily filmed and distributed in the media, much like Taro’s images were.
Henri Cartier – Bresson “FRANCE. The Var department. Hyères. 1932.”
A staple of photojournalism with a twist – Henri Cartier-Bresson’s images have become references for many photographers of the years. My correlation from Bresson’s Image to Taros is a stylistic one. Both images have leading lines that direct the view towards the main part of frame. What I mean by that, is the frames “action.” both images have movement that is captured. Wether the movement in both images are accidental or not, it reveals to us the beautiful limitations of the photograph and how we can use it.
Man Ray “L’Inquietude(Disquiet)” 1920
Another but more abstracted reference to Taros fire image for me is Man Rays “disquiet” composition. pushing the experimentation of the photograph, Man Ray created motion that evokes a similar feeling I get from the Taro image. Its stillness / hyper motion makes me feel uncomfortable much as Taros images of destruction do. The form is similar to the form of the fire on the truck. I imagine the flames moving just as fast as whatever is going on in Man Rays composition.
Jackson Pollock. “The Flame” 1934 . Oil on Canvas
Expression is one way to pin down the feeling I got from the Taro image. Jackson Pollock is an icon of Expressionism. This particular piece isolates the major part of why I like that taro image so much – the flame. A direct reference of fire is apparent between the two pieces, but looking at a representation of fire in color further pushes the uncanny feeling I get from the Taro image. The movement in the paint from the Pollock reminds me of the movement of the flame in the taro image. These two pieces work on multiple levels of content, form and feeling.
Pablo Picasso “Guernica” 1937, oil on canvas
Picasso’s painting of the Spanish civil war has a direct relation Taro image – by both are depiction war. This particular Taro image of the truck on fire is subtle in its use, but Picasso shows use the harsh realities with his painting.
Robert Capa “US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings” 1944
Taros semi-partner in crime. Capa’s famous images of D-day show a very similar style to Taros image. Although they are not all the same, this image in particular has similarities of form to the Taro image. Aside from the fact they both are depiction of war, they both have motion. What it means to be shooting a war “on the go” is one thing. But its another thing for motion to give us a sense of how chaotic war (death) and destruction can be. Both images present themselves to me in this way – chaotic.
Jackson Pollock “War” 1947
I want to revisit a later Pollock for a moment. Its fun to note that this is the only drawing Pollock every titled. In this composition, the monstrous destruction of war is conveyed both by the fierceness of the graphic execution. The drawing has tons of linear motions. These lines of motion have a strong reference for me to the flames that Taro Captured. This Pollock may be more graphic than the Taro image, but both show the horrors of destruction.
Robert Rauschenberg “Kip Up” 1964
I selected this piece for its subtle ideas of movement and blackness that I feel relates to the Taro image. I like how the blacks engulf the imagery. I could say the same for the Taro image. The blackness of space is uncanny in both images. The brush strokes are very reminiscent of the flames in the Taro image as well.
Andy Warhol “Red Car Crash” from Death and Disaster series. 1963
This Warhol piece is the extreme of what I think the taro image does. Both images show a car, but only image shows the actual depiction of death. Both have a relation to death however. Both have a destruction of a car. But what I am most interested in is how in both images, the black direct your attention the highlights. In the highlights we get the depiction of disaster.
Thomas Ruff “Nude Obe06” 2001
This Thomas Ruff image is similar in its motion to the Taro image but pushes it to the extreme. I like the reference of motion to the flame, but what I am most interested in is the fetishization of both sex and war (maybe even death). As viewer I am strangely attracted to images of war – I would say the same for most people. I am also attracted to images of sex. What I find interesting in the Thomas Ruff removes a lot of detail and replaces it with motion. This holds me and keeps me looking.This is very similar to why I am attracted to the Taro Image.
Jacob Garcia “Untitled” from the Water Reduction Series. 2016
I have always had an attraction to death, especially what happens after death or imagery that alludes to death and destruction. Using the fire as a starting point I created a composition of fire and added movement gestures. Layering of the images alludes to destruction. The image on top has inked removed by soaking it in water than removed with a tool. For me, this starts to suggest who easy it is to dismantle the image much as war can dismantle a country.