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Frances with a Flower

Consuelo Kanaga


Consuelo Kanaga, one of the pioneers of modern American photography, began her career as a photojournalist in 1915 in San Francisco. In the 1920s, Alfred Stieglitz inspired her to develop a more aesthetic approach, and a trip to Europe in 1928 awakened her lifelong preoccupation with European modernist painting and the ways in which that work was influenced by the sculpture of Africa. Kanaga successfully combined a Pictorialist aesthetic with a realist strategy, producing handsomely composed and carefully printed images. She was one of few white American photographers in the 1930s to make artistic portraits of African Americans.

In Frances with a Flower, the focus is so sharp that the slightly rough texture of the woman’s skin, shiny with perspiration at the hairline, seems palpable. The forehead, nose, and cheeks, highlighted by flash, contrast with the deep-set eyes lost in shadow, thus producing a sculptural dimension that turns the photograph into hills and valleys of light. The stark white blossom pressed to the woman’s nose emphasizes the sensuality of her face.

The Brooklyn Museum held large retrospective exhibitions of Kanaga’s work in 1976 and 1993 and holds several hundred of her images in its collection.
MEDIUM Gelatin silver print
DATES 1932
DIMENSIONS frame: 22 13/16 × 16 13/16 × 1 1/2 in. (57.9 × 42.7 × 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower right mount in pencil: "Consuelo Kanaga"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed along lower edge interior right face of mat in pencil: "Francis with a Flower, Consuelo Kanaga, 82.65.10"
CREDIT LINE Gift of Wallace B. Putnam from the Estate of Consuelo Kanaga
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Consuelo Kanaga (American, 1894–1978). Frances with a Flower, 1932. Gelatin silver print, frame: 22 13/16 × 16 13/16 × 1 1/2 in. (57.9 × 42.7 × 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Wallace B. Putnam from the Estate of Consuelo Kanaga, 82.65.10 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 82.65.10_PS20.jpg)
IMAGE detail, 82.65.10_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
RIGHTS STATEMENT copyright transferred to Brooklyn Museum by the Estate of Wallace Putnam
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