Goings On About Town by Vince Aletti
Alfred Gescheidt: Photographs 1949 – 1979
The New Yorker, 10/19/2009
Gescheidt’s photographs, made between 1949 and 1979, are brash, crass, and bound to offend contemporary sensibilities. He worked in black-and-white and with a wide variety of pre-Photoshop collage and montage techniques to make memorably provocative pictures: a young preppy couple with babies’ heads, the Washington Monument as a stake for giant horseshoes, “American Gothic” restaged with Shirley Chisholm and George Wallace. Subtlety was not Gescheidt’s forte; his humor was broad and aimed at men, with bare breasts as objects of fun and a woman’s crotch looming like a dark, ominous cave before a miniature man. But if many of these images are tasteless period pieces, others (like a series on the difficulties of stopping smoking) remain pointed and alarmingly funny.
...Frustrated desire was at the heart of Gescheidt's special comedy and anxiety all along. The camera's eye is always male, like the photographer himself looking back from a pair of binoculars, but then an anonymous hand grips them both. A drawbridge parts for a nude flat on her back like a barge, while a man treads warily on a carpet of breasts, like walking on eggshells. Another naked man stares up in wonder at an enormous naked crotch, but there is no turning back. He is already well between her legs, without so much as nicotine to calm his nerves. Even without a cigarette, this work smokes.
black and white photographmanfemale crotchvintage gelatin silver printphotography