Molinier, Pierre. (1900-1976): Éperon d'amour [The Love Spur], 1960.
Gelatin silver print. 3-1/2 x 4-7/8 inches (8.9 x 12.4 cm) (image/sheet). Overall good condition, with silver mirroring to edges and darkest shadows, pinholes in the corners, pinpoint dot of retouching to the figure's forehead, minor scattered chipping and bumping to extreme edges and corners of sheet. Sheet is hinged along upper edge of verso to board. Window matted and framed under acrylic to 9 x 10 1/2 inches. Not examined out of frame.
Pierre Molinier was a surrealist painter, photographer and 'object maker' who worked alongside the Surrealists, including Andre Breton who organized his only solo show in his lifetime at L'Etoile Scellee (1957). When he was sixty-five years old, Molinier began to work a series of photographs for his private erotic pleasure, a series he continued for eleven years until his death, by his own hand, in 1976. Embodying an androgynous identity (cross-dressing in his wife's lingerie) and through his fetishistic erotic portraiture, he challenged norms of morality and decency, as in the self-portrait series Mon cul. The idea of endless layers of masking is vital to the photographs of Pierre Molinier. Ironically, it was these works, not intended for public display, that earned him some artistic notoriety. Molinier photographed himself, mannequins, friends and acquaintances, both male and female, adorned in high heels, lace stockings, and hand-crafted masks. Through an elaborate process of printing, collaging, airbrushing and re-photographing, Molinier created a secret folio of obsessive, fetishized images of impossible bodies. As if peeking through a keyhole, a dark halo surrounds the seemingly-endless repetition of glowing limbs sheathed in fishnet stockings, phalluses fashioned from silk, and inscrutable smiling masks. A strange aura gathers around Molinier’s images with such a subversive force as to crash into the very foundations of assumptions about sexual identity and cast doubt on our ability to know what is animated and what is inert, what is young or old, what is seduction and what is horror. Before committing suicide, he declared his death and raised his tomb against the social conventions of morality, glory and honor. He committed suicide in 1976, and a retrospective at Centre Georges Pompidou was held the following year.