"Egg and Twine", Horacio Coppola, 1932
Horacio Coppola’s black and white photographs frequently depicted the cafes, streets and boulevards of Buenos Aires in the 1930s. His photography depicting ordinary objects such as typewriters and dolls has been cited as the first introduction of avant-garde photography to Argentina.
Sadly, Coppola recently passed away, aged 105. As with most famous artists, however, his famous photographs are destined to live on.
Currently, six of Coppola’s photographs are housed at the Museum of Modern Art, although they are not currently on display. The museum is holding out hope that they will acquire more of the artist’s photographs, in order to hold an exhibition of his work in 2015.
"The museum has a directed a lot of attention toward the acquisition of work by Latin American artists, and Coppola is at the top of that list," MoMA’s photography curator Sarah Meister said
According to Ms. Meister, Coppola’s photographs are not very well known outside of Argentina, but his night-time images of Buenos Aires are comparable to some other renowned photographers of the same era, including Brassaï who commonly photographed Paris at night, and London photographer Bill Brandt.
One of Coppola’s most famous works, the 1932 Egg and Twine
, is in the care of MoMA. The photograph was taken in 1932 when the artist was studying at Berlin’s Bauhaus, and features an egg resting against a wooden surface beside a curling piece of wire. During his studies at the Bauhaus, Coppola was under the tutelage of teacher/photographer Walter Peterhans.
"It is spectacular," Ms. Meister said
. "The very close-up view was characteristic of work being done when Walter Peterhans was directing the photography program at the Bauhaus. The idea of describing surface textures and the quality of light in a uniquely photographic way was something Peterhans championed. This is a particularly well-accomplished example of that, in terms of the composition, the layering of light and dark. It’s a very shallow space, and yet the range of light is impressive."
London gallery owner Michael Hoppen has worked closely with Coppola in dealing with his work, and was the first person to confirm his death. He first came in contact with the artist in 2000, when he saw one of Coppola’s photographs at an art exhibition in Berlin. Impressed by what he saw, Hoppen decided to track down the artist and became even more impressed by the body of work Coppola had produced over the years.
"Nobody knew about him," Hoppen said
. "It was a strange sort of backwater."
Typically, Copolla’s photographs sell for anywhere between $6,200-$7,800. Hoppen fondly remembers how, even at 90-years-old when he first met the artist, Coppola still remembered where and how he had taken each of his photographs.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1906, Coppola did not begin taking photographs until he was 20 years old. In the 1920s and 30s he took many photographs during his travels in Europe, where he also eventually met his first wife – photographer Grete Stern, with whom he had two children.
Stern, his two children and his later wife Raquel Palomeque all died before him.