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Advertisement for Marmion Motor Co., New York
Platinum print, montage
4 1/4 x 9 1/2 in (10.8 x 24.1 cm)
Swann Galleries - New York
Sale 2208 Lot 92
With Outerbridge's estate stamp and the number "419," in pencil, on mount verso.
The Photograph and the American Dream 1840-1940, 113.
Paul Outerbridge Jr.'s infallible eye for beauty and form made him an ideal advertising photographer. With an innate understanding of the relationship between glamour and pleasure, Outerbridge studied the formal aspects of the objects he photographed and transformed them, subverting familiar articles into modernist abstractions. Nowhere is that talent more evident than in the advertisement for Marmon automobiles offered here. This juxtaposition of bold silhouette and finely rendered detail conveys confidence, modernity, and power. In a seemingly simple composition, Outerbridge creates a narrative of historic tradition as well as forward-thinking technology for the high-end consumer.
Though he is now known for spectacular experiments with color photography, Outerbridge had achieved fame as a commercial photographer by the early 1920s. His rise to prominence came astonishingly quickly. In 1921 he enrolled in Clarence White's School of Photography and by the next year was published in Vogue magazine. (This was his well-known "Ide Collar," which transformed common perceptions of advertising and even attracted the interest of Marcel Duchamp).
Outerbridge believed that photography best exemplified the modern age and temperament. He created compositions that championed the purity of form, spatial arrangement and post-WWI modernist aesthetics. A highly skilled photographer, Outerbridge made preliminary drawings for many of his compositions and insisted on using platinum paper--a luxury good during the wartime era--because of the rich tonal quality it gave his negatives.
Founded in 1902 by Howard Marmon, Marmon Motor Car Company quickly became successful in the early days of the automobile industry. The cars were characterized by ambitious mechanical engineering and stylish design. The Marmon Wasp won the Indianapolis 500 in 1911 (with the first rear view mirror), and, in 1916, a team of drivers in the Marmon 34 broke the transcontinental record by driving cross-country in less than 6 days. Only in business until 1933, Marmon cars were produced in relatively small quantities and are now prized by collectors.