Art | June 01, 2009
Terrible Beauty: The Visual Poems of Clarence John Laughlin
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Before falling for photography, Clarence Laughlin had wanted to be a poet. As a young man he immersed himself in the French symbolists, particularly Baudelaire. Unable to sell his prose poems and wanting to quit his job as a bank teller, he bought an inexpensive camera, built a homemade darkroom and taught himself the fundamentals of photography. His goal was to be the Baudelaire of the camera. He called his early results “visual poems” and meant for the images to be explicated like poetry. For Laughlin, objects possessed an intricate web of psychological associations and a multitude of meanings.
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