THE EYE OF LOVE
A VISUAL POEM, PARIS, 1952
Bildhalle Amsterdam has the pleasure of presenting the first Dutch solo exhibition of René Groebli (*1927), one of Switzerland’s most important living photographers. The series The Eye of Love, resulting from Groebli’s honeymoon in Paris in 1952, is a visual love poem that launched the artist‘s international career and was far ahead of its time.
After their wedding in 1952, René Groebli and his wife Rita went on honeymoon to Paris for two weeks. During the visit Groebli shot some photographs which one year later he assembled as a visual essay and published this as an artist’s book entitled The Eye of Love.
The U.S. Camera Annual, the most influential American photographic yearbook of the time, wrote in 1955: “The Eye of Love is a tender photo essay on a photographer’s love for a woman.” It is no surprise that the series launched Groebli’s international career and that one of its photographs, the “Sitting Nude”, became part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Edward Steichen, founder of the photography department at MoMA New York, acquired the work for the museum’s collection and included it in his monumental exhibition The Family of Man (1955).
The stunning power of Groebli’s 1952 series still takes our breath away, the more so because we are fully aware that we are not looking at a model we suspect has an affair with the photographer, but rather at the unmarred bliss of a freshly married couple in a Paris hotel room. And we are also aware that the woman’s gleaming white dress, falling and gliding from her body into the rustling of blurred edges, betokens an encounter we know from our own lives. The pleasure divined between the pictures in this series is as scandalous as the love and familiarity between two human beings is enduring and touching.
Groebli did not want to document: he wanted to inspire associations. As a photographer he aims at making feelings visible, convey an atmosphere, capture a moment, and express happiness. On their honeymoon Groebli photographed more than the objectively visible. He photographed emotions, the ephemeral, intimacy, sensuousness... and his love for Rita. The Eye of Love is a work filled with intimacy and timeless poetry.
“And so the chamber in Paris becomes the heart chamber into which we have all once fallen, into which we have
all once sunk. In the hope that this narrow chamber will expand into the expanses of an entire life. In the hope that these split seconds will be burned into heart and mind – like René Groebli’s photographs on the retina of the viewer.”
Stefan Zweifel, philosopher and writer