My favorite Groebli photo from "Eye of Love" series
My favorite Groebli photo from “Eye of Love” series

NEITHER Susan May Tell, a professional photographer, nor I had ever heard of René Groebli. There we were, though, in a small room at the Howard Greenberg Gallery (Fuller Building, 41 E 57th St)  surrounded by his romantic, erotic, beautiful photographs.

The exhibit is called “Eye of Love.” The photos are indeed a love story. The photographer loved women, a woman’s neck, and a moment of movement that can best be called the sigh made before or after making love.  

“They’re honeymoon photos,” the curator said to us as she walked into the room and noticed our admiration for the black and white photos. “Aren’t they beautiful.”

Susan preferred not to leave the small ante-room. “Look,look,” she said. “This is real photography, look what he did with the film, what it says, what beauty he expresses. How lovely. It all is like a poem.”

The main room of the gallery was devoted to Jessica Lange’s photography, which in comparison to Groebli’s work,yes, did look rather spineless and lacked a unifying aesthetic. Let’s just say most of her images were OK. A few were marvelous.

So there we sat for fifteen/twenty minute moving out eye from photo to photo.  There were 1O of them. My favorite: a swoop of neck framed on the bottom with a white blouse about to be lifted ( the woman is undressing); on the top framed by the woman’s short dark hair. Two wisps of hair point down the swoop of neck. Tiny wings of ears. You can smell the woman.

Groebli was a young man when he took the photos ( in 1955).  He writes: During a trip through France together with a girl I cherish and love, I tried to convey the typical atmosphere of French hotel rooms.  The girl is not a beauty, but I looked at her and saw the beauty of her movements. I liked the way she dressed, I admired her silhouette in the dim light.  There were so many impressions: the poor-looking furniture in a cheap hotel; the old curtains on the window and this girl who was so near to me.  I knew I would remember all the details because I liked the cheap hotel rooms, I liked the French atmosphere with the word ‘Amore” embroidered on the curtains.  And I was in love with the girl, the girl who is my wife.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER:René Groebli is a well-respected Swiss photographer.  After studying photography with the renowned Swiss master Hans Finsler in Zurich, Groebli studied documentary filmmaking for a few years before establishing a career in advertising and industrial photography

In 1949, René Groebli published the landmark and influential photo-essay « Rail Magic » which critics today consider to be a unique and brilliant innovation of style and form.



Susan May Tell’s webpage