Photography

7 Photographers That Made Despair And Sadness Their Greatest Muses

Photography 7 Photographers That Made Despair And Sadness Their Greatest Muses

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation,” says the writer, poet, and thinker Henry David Thoreau.

Tragedy is one of the main components of life. Every day human beings have to deal with treachery, disenchantment, and heartbreak. These events serve as obstacles that humans must overcome because if they didn't, then there would be no purpose in life.  Tragedy makes our souls stronger. There's no humanity without despair, there's no light without sorrow.
 
Take a look at the works of these 7 photographers who found in despair and sadness the inspiration to portray their vision of the human soul. Dive in the dark seas of tears that many of us have drowned in. 



Man Ray (1890-1976)

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Sensuality, sadness, and surrealism were essential elements in the complex work of this artist. These images project a depth of emotion that is difficult to rival, they offer a glimpse into the souls of his subjects. His lover, Kiki, was his muse and his photographs position the female body as a beautiful and nostalgic universe.  After all, as the photographer mentioned, his main goals are the pursuit of freedom and pleasure. His tombstone at the Montparnasse graveyard reads: "Unconcerned, but not indifferent."


Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015)

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In the early 1980s, Mary Ellen Mark began to create an epic series: she took photos of vagabonds and prostitutes from the slums of Seattle. Her attention was focused on the life of Tiny, a 13-year-old prostitute whose dream was to own a farm with horses and to possess a lot of diamonds. The nostalgia and Tiny's tough life became Mark's inspiration. The photographer followed this woman from the eighties up until 2014, capturing the painful experiences she underwent, abuse, drugs, and imprisonment. This documentary work shows how severe life can be and how you have to make the best with what you've got. 


Sally Mann (1951)

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Immediate Family is one of Sally Mann's most famous photographic series developed from 1984 to 1994. In it, her three children (who were less than 10 years old) and her husband are the protagonists of portraits in which we can see them in ordinary situations: playing, sleeping, eating, etc. In this nostalgia world, every gesture and movement made by these children is enhanced by the black & white and sepia filters. Her series caused a great controversy among American Christian groups, who accused Mann of exploiting her children and creating pornography at their expense. The only truth is that Mann's lenses capture their lives in a natural and spontaneous way.

Robert Frank (1924)

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Frank is cataloged as a master of documentary photography. Tinged with a pessimistic and bitter ambiance, his work captures the daily life of the 1950s America. He reveals through his images a sense of sorrow and rottenness in a country that was built on contradictions. His camera questioned the famous "American way of life" by showing the void in his country's everyday life. He lived on the road with his family and his camera to capture the life of a postwar society that lived in the ashes of past dreams. 


Nan Goldin (1953)

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The notions behind Nan Golding's vision is the reality of diseases, violence, and human decadence. Goldinf witnessed the nightlife of New York during the eighties, when AIDS was taking the lives of many of her closest friends. She always criticized the idea of art as a business, and so, a huge part of the money raised by her art has been destined to public charities. Her photographs could be labeled as hyper-realistic due to the honest way in which she depicts reality. Each gesture nurtures her images with despair and sorrow.

Larry Sultan (1946-2009)

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He made America's dark side the protagonist of his work. He felt isolated from the American society and he never felt completely involved in the artistic spheres. All this was reflected in his photographs, which remove the gloss and illusions covering the American Dream. He has stated that his intention is show the complicated American reality. Among his many series The Valley stands out above the rest, as it captures the pornographic industry in San Francisco. His series Pictures from Home is also very interesting because he portrays the intimate life of his parents and his family in an unconventional way. 


Patrick Demarchelier (1943)

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Celebrities have been the central focus of his work. His photographs have appeared in the greatest fashion magazines like Vogue, Glamour, and Harper's Bazaar. His work may exude glamour, but he still manages to capture the essence of his subjects, unveiling the somber side of fame and beauty Behind every face and body lies a tragic story that is skillfully captured by this French photographer, who nowadays is working hand in hand with his son Victor.



Brush away your sorrow with this photographic journey. There's always a light that will accompany us and make us realize that despair and sadness are not eternal but essential. Continue exploring the dark side of life through these pictures of mental illness that show ignorance is the worst crime.



Source:

Vice

Maestros de la fotografía

Cada día un fotógrafo

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Translated by María Isabel Carrasco


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