Pierre Molinier Portrait of Luciano Castelli, 1974
Gelatin silver print on Agfa paper. 7 x 5 inches (17.8 x 12.7 cm) (image/sheet). Overall good condition, with faint silver mirroring, diagonal hard creases in the lower right corner, a few scattered surface scuffs and accretions visible under raking light. Sheet is taped along edges of verso to window mat measuring 11 7/8 by 9 1/2 inches. Framed under glass to 12 1/2 by 10 inches.
Pierre Molinier was a surrealist painter, photographer and 'object maker' who worked alongside the Surrealists, including Andre Breton who organised his only solo show in his lifetime at L'Etoile Scellee (1957). 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. Before committing suicide, he declared his death and raised his tomb against the social conventions of morality, glory and honour. He committed suicide in 1976, and a retrospective at Centre Georges Pompidou was held the following year.
He and the artist Luciano Castelli, the subject of the present work, met following the exhibition “Transformer – Aspects du travestisme” where both of their works were exhibited (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lucerne, 1974). Molinier, already well known, sent the younger Castelli one of the photos taken by the latter, a reproduction of which appeared in the catalog, making some changes to make the subject more androgynous. This began a correspondence which lead to the eventual meeting of the two artists and then to a series of portraits of Castelli, which includes the present print. LITERATURE: Pierre Molinier, photographer: a retrospective, Paris: Ed. Mennour, 2000, pp. 138-139.