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Great Photographer - Alfred Eisenstaedt

Updated on December 2, 2020

Alfred Eisenstaedt

I first saw the photographs of Alfred Eisenstaedt in a museum in Johannesburg. I was stunned. Goebbels, Mussolini, Sophia Loren, Winston Churchill, T.S.Eliot, Somerset Maugham, children in the East End of London, children in Paris, Hiroshima, Marilyn Monroe, Times Square on V.J Day...the list goes on. Amazing subjects - a who's who of the 20th Century and so beautifully shot.

Kiss in Times Square - VJ Day
Kiss in Times Square - VJ Day

Camera (click!)

The kiss you made, the genius of a random sailor, drunken and joyous bubbling from a world freed from war in Times Square,

bending backwards this nurse of America in pristine white, virgin clean, kissing a new world into being.

The sexy kink of one upraised leg and the creases of white stocking behind her knee,

and the joyous faces all smiling behind the sailor hat in profile,

reminiscent of Bing Crosby movies and Bob Hope wholehearted America,apple pie and cars with fins and gleaming chrome –

& the shutter clicked to capture all of this under the finger of a German Jewish refugee who’d captured Goebbels’ claws gripping a chair in fury,

staring an evil iron rod into the lens,

as if furious for his image to be snapped by a Jew

& in Rome Mussolini hanging over a balcony wooing Italy with a monkey clawed fist to the gaze of his acolytes

and Roman Gods and Goddesses sitting in the walls of ancient Rome

all this captured by Eisenstaedt

this moment

the nurse’s white shoes,

the white line seam disappearing and tracing her thigh into the darkness under her white dress,

the plaited up hair of American startlets –

& too as I wandered around the Museum of Art Johannesburg

there's Eisenstaedt shooting Sophia Loren in her skin and simple dress

no make up just this health and shine of eyes

(seen too two days ago the Electric Cinema Portobello Road still shinning as a grandmother even)

And more still, Somerset Maugham strong

T.S Eliot stretched face rubbery

kids faces alight before Punch and Judy

Paris and the world notorious passed before this man's eyes and he clicked the shutter and snapped it all up

Boxed it up and stuck it on a wall

but this kiss snatched from the abyss best of all

thus the human heart displayed through celluloid and the light of day


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