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Floral Studies: Dr. Dain L. Tasker

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Floral Studies: Dr. Dain L. Tasker

Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, CA

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Dr. Dain L. Tasker was chief radiologist at Wilshire Hospital in Los Angeles at a time when the use of x-rays were in full development, having been invented just three decades earlier. Fascinated by what was revealed in an ordinary x-ray, Tasker used the machine as his “camera” to reveal the form and character of flowers. Admired for their beauty and distinct process, Tasker’s images are vintage representations of their subject that surprisingly fit into the genre of contemporary photography.

Created in the 1930’s and 1940’s, these black and white vintage gelatin prints reveal the ‘bones’ and structural aspects of flowers with a direct yet intimate sensibility. Prints include a range of flower types including roses, lotuses, holly, columbine, tulips, fuchsias, calla lilies and more. Simple, straight-forward compositions allows viewers to focus on the complex intricacies and the layers of the unique elements of each flower. These single-flower prints possess the character of flowers with a sense of movement, depth, grace and beauty. In contrast to his contemporary, photographer Imogen Cunningham, whose black and white photographs of flowers were sharply focused, close-up bold representations, Tasker reveals a quiet fragility essential and vividly present in these botanical forms. Perhaps the greatest value of these images are in the benefits viewers receive from Tasker’s many years of familiarity and intense study of x-rays, to help us see flowers in a new way.

Fleur-de-lis
1936
vintage gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 7 3/8 inches

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