I have been fascinated by the many elements of Loretta Lux‘s fine art photography over the last couple of years, since I was introduced to her work.
Loretta Lux was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1969. In 1989 she left East Germany for Munich, months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. in 1996 she graduated from the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. She was trained as a painter, and I read somewhere that — after all — she was not very confortable with the mess caused by paints, solvents, brushes and so on. This seems to be one of the reasons she turned to photography around 1999.
Soon after she transitioned to the kind of work that would become her artistic signature: Photos of children, disturbingly gazing into nowhere, with empty eyes.
The children’s Lost Paradise
In her photos, Lux speaks about a very peculiar vision of childhood. And clearly she is not documenting anything about the children themselves. Instead, they become actors that embody something Lux is after, and which seems difficult to grasp precisely, yet it is not hard to understand on an intuitive level.
I never allow them to wear their own clothes. My work isn’t about these children. You can recongnise them, but they are alienates from their real appearance.
This clearly does not seem to be the kind of work that flows out of espontaneity. It feels very controlled, planned, and executed to a pre-conceived vision to exact detail. This is something I have personally been interested about for a long time, the interplay between art as an espotaneous expression of the soul, and art as a manifestation of controlled thought. The boundaries do not need to be sharp, but anyway. Let us continue speaking about Lux.
Because my style is so different from other work, people regard it as a kind of brand, while I’d rather focus on developing the psychological elements in each image
Lux alters the images, turning them almost into representations: nothing superflous remains; only the relevant. She distorts human proportions, and sets her children against backgrounds she photographed or painted before. I often find the background speak almost as much as the children.
Nobody really knows much about Lux’s technique. And many people over the years have tried to reverse engineer the path to her portraits. Nobody has been really able to do it so far. She has her brand secrets and I think it is wonderful that she does.
We know she does portraits and backgrounds separately, that she distorts proportions (esp. larger head). She removes all shadows, which I find fascinating and meaningful. And then she brings the work to this unique, and beautiful tonal range and texture.
She seems to then turn digitial to large negative, which is then printed on Ilfochrome.
I will speak about this latter process soon….