Forgotten Women Madam d’Ora- Part Two

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In my previous post, I talked about Dora Kallmus a forgotten pioneer in the world of early photography. In the late nineteenth, early twentieth century Dora broke all the rules in composition and subject matter. Her vibrant, often risqué poses earned her celebrity status, and she soon became the toast of Vienna and much of Europe.

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Yet who has heard of Dora Kallmus?

You can read part one Forgotten Women Madam d’Ora here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/forgotten-women-madam-dora-part-one/

Today I will be continuing her amazing story.

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Dora’s studio in Vienna, Atelier d’Ora, was an instant success and helped her to secure her position as The Photographer of a new millennium. Her daring poses and unusual subjects, such as exotic dancers and revealing self portraits, gained her a reputation for taking risks. Exactly what her famous clients craved.

But Dora was ambitious and wanted to attract a wider clientele. So in 1925 she and her assistant Arthur Benda opened a studio in Paris. Although it was a success, Benda preferred his life in Vienna and returned, taking over her studio and renaming it d’Ora-Benda-Wien. His actions caused a rift between them and they never spoke again.

Loosing her technical assistant did not deter Dora and she carried on with her fashion photography and portraits of stars in theatre and the silver screen. But things were about to change for Madame d’Ora. Firstly, when the National Socialists gained power in Germany in 1933. Unfortunately for Dora, the fashion industry collapsed and magazines that featured her photographs were reprimanded for doing so and she was no longer able to show her work in this way.

Second was the German invasion of France in 1940. Dora, despite converting to Christianity, was still a Jew and was forced to sell her Parisian studio. For much of the second world war, Dora went into hiding in such places as a cloister in La Lanvese, southern France and even on a farm. Finally relocating to Austria in 1945. Although Dora survived the rest of her family were not so fortunate and were killed in the holocaust.

The tragedy of the war weighed heavily upon Dora. Her photography changed drastically and she began to turn her talents to photographing the horrors of the aftermath of survivors from concentration camps.

She began a series of documentary photographs capturing the misery of refugees fleeing to Austria. Dora continued to take fashion photographs, but her interests seemed to switch from glamorous photo shoots to dark representations of the horrors of the casualties of war and oppression.

 

Her disturbing series of images from 1950-58 when she was now in her seventies, captures the gruesome and terrifying plight of animals sent to slaughter. She vividly captures the brutality of the slaughterhouses in Paris and in doing so the inhumanity of her fellow man. Perhaps a reflection of what she saw in the concentration camps a decade earlier.

Please visit my Pinterest site to view Dora’s photographs taken in the Parisian abbatoir. I chose not to put them here as some people may find the images too distressing.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nikkimcdonagh56/art-and-photographs-that-inspire-my-stories-includ/dora-kallmus-photographs/

When Dora was knocked down by a motorcycle in 1959 she returned to her family home in Frohnleiten Austria, that had been sold under the Nazi rule but then returned to her.Her injuries form the accident meant that she lost most of her memories and could no longer take photographs. She died October 28 1963 at the age of seventy-six.

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Dora Kallmus’s legacy lives on in her outstanding photographic works of art. She was a pioneer in the field of photography and should be remembered for her daring and unique style that brought her fame, fortune, and a passion for pushing the boundaries of the photographic image that influenced many future practitioners in the art.

 

 

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Thank you for reading my post. If you would like to know more about my work please visit my:

website:  http://www.oddlybooks.com/

Amazon Page:  Author.to/BooksonAmazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten Women Madam d’Ora – Part One

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, I thought I’d post this story about an amazing pioneering female photographer that history has forgot.

Dora Kallmus. She was extremely influential in changing the way people posed for their picture. Dora’s unique style helped to popularise the celebrity portrait, and her fashion photography broke all the rules. Yet, History has chosen to forget her.

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Born in 1881 to a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Dora was clearly a headstrong young woman and knew what she wanted to do. She befriended the son of the painter Hans Makart, and whilst assisting him in his studio, she discovered the wonders of photography.

In 1905, she became the first woman allowed to study theory at the city’s Graphic Training Centre,  GraphischenLehr-und Versuchsanstalt, and in the same year was accepted as a member of the Association of Austrian Photographers. Two years later she finished an apprenticeship with Nicola Perscheid, where she learned her craft.

Although she was not allowed to do the technical training, because she was a woman, that did not stop her opening her own studio in Vienna in 1907. She brought a fellow student of Nicola Pesrcheid with her, Arthur Benda, who would remain her technical assistant throughout her early career.

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Her studio Atelier d’Ora, became a sensation, and along with Arthur Benda, Madame d’Ora’s shop was the place to go for the fashionable and cultural elite of Vienna. Her new approach to photographing a subject, natural, relaxed poses rather than the stiff, grim images people were used to, made her photographs sought after. The artist, Gustav Klimt and his muse Emilie Flöge, being some of her most famous clients.

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Dora’s Middle Class Jewish background aided her in attracting customers. Her father, Doctor Phillipp Kalmus, a respected lawyer, brought clients from the civil service, government, and the banking world. With such a notorious profile, Dora landed the job of photographing the coronation of Kaiser Karl, King of Hungary. Now she was in demand by royalty and members of the Imperial family who visited her studio to have their portrait taken.

But it was through her cousin, the acclaimed actress Rosa Bertens, that Dora broke into what was to become her trademark work. Photographing the rich and famous throughout the theatre, music, fashion and art worlds.

News of her avant-garde work spread, and customers flocked to her doors. Now everyone wanted to be photographed by Madame d’Ora, whose unorthodox compositions were the talk of the town. Attracting famous dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Josephine Baker, and, Mary Wigman. Writers such as Arthur Schnitzler, artists, Gustav Klimt, actors, Maurice Chevalier, musicians, Pablo Casals and the composer, Albern Berg.

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Her keen interest in fashion photography inspired her to change the way the industry presented their clothes. She created new ways to portray models, and her fresh ideas were soon snapped up by many lifestyle periodicals such as Die, Madame, and Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode.

Madame d’Ora became Coco Channels first choice to capture her new creations in all of their glory. All this when she was still under thirty years of age.

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In Part Two, I will focus on Dora’s later career and how she developed not only as a portrait photographer to the stars, but how the traumas of the second world war developed her career as a documentary photographer.
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If you would like to know more about my books, please visit my website: www.oddlybooks.com
To view some of my photography go to: 

Light and writing – part one – Inspiration

Let there be light. Why? Because without it nearly all life on this planet would cease to exist. It heats, illuminates, nourishes and gives life. It also inspires works of art. As a writer, I can use light in many forms, natural, supernatural and artificial to enhance my narrative. As a photographer, well, I wouldn’t be able to take photographs without it.

In this series about light, I will be dealing with the many forms it takes. From the glowing backsides of fireflies to the many ways human beings have found to illuminate the darkness.

Nature is amazing. We humans are, for the most part, in awe of it and have been ever since we crawled out of the primal ooze. Nothing stirs the soul quite so much as a beautiful sunset, a sunrise, a mass of twinkling stars, or the constant glow of the moon.

purple sunsetThe sun gives us light and warmth, stars make us wonder about far off worlds, the moon illuminates our darkness with its wide-eyed face looking down on us like a distant mother watching her children. No wonder creative minds have used light as inspiration.

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Many writers have used light to express happiness, love, hope, expectation and joy. Just listen to some songs, the word ‘light’ comes up quite often. ‘Light my fire‘ The Doors. ‘You lIght up My Life’ Debbie Boone. ‘Ray of Light’ Madonna. ‘Shadows and Light‘ Joni Mitchel, to name but a few. The same is true of literature: ‘Northern Lights‘ PhillipPullman. ‘The Light that Failed’ Rudjard Kipling. ‘Where the Light Last and other stories‘ Agatha Christie.

In my short story Glimmer, the protagonist, a young man resisting the drugs he is given to keep him ‘sane’, retreats into his own world and listens  for the voices that come from the stars.

The world will not end because I close my eyes. The sun will still shine, so too the stars. Yet the darkness behind my drooped lids tells me otherwise. I see a macrocosm made up of swirling silhouettes and geometric shapes that aren’t strange to me at all. This is where I live now, in x-ray blackness. There is peace in this non-colour.”

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

Watch out for Part two in the series: Religion and Light.

For more information about my work please visit my website: 

www.oddlybooks

Editing – does it ever end?

I have been editing a short story for my next anthology. It is based on the painting ‘Autumn in the village’ by Marc Chagall.

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When I’d finished and felt pleased with the result, I thought I would post a few paragraphs on Facebook. Ah, I saw a repetition of words and a slightly clumsy sentence and…Yep, I took it down and spent another hour editing one paragraph. Was I happy with the result?

Yes and no.

So I tweaked it again.

And again.

And…well, you get the idea.

So, as a writer, do we ever think, ‘Okay, this is it. This is perfect.’

I suppose we just have to let go and allow the reader decide.

But, oh, how I twitch and itch to change it!

Anyway, here is the beginning of my story – The Shivering Oak:

Coward.

To conceal yourself up a tree like a rat.

I did not hide. I was there for all to see. Lounging larger than the low roof I reclined upon. At least that’s how it seemed to me as I raised my chin to the sky and let the sun kiss it. Yes, even the heavens were on my side.

So, I waited.

I did not grow tired or hungry. I was nourished by the warm May winds that gently stroked my bare arms and lips, which were red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, when I glanced at my reflection in the darkened window of the building opposite, I thought they resembled the hue of the roses on my dress. Or perhaps they were nearer the shade of the berries on the bush that grew below your dangling feet. I noticed how the soles of your shoes were worn. Was that a toe? That pink protuberance that stuck out from the emerging hole? The twitching thing that made Genghis yank at his leash.

I sat up to get a better look. You struggled to maintain position on the creaking branch. One hand wrapped around the frail wood, the other clutching onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me at the Christmas concert.

The village hall was crammed that night with the young, old, and those in between. Forced to stand at the back, I peered over the shoulders of the tall men. I didn’t mind, though. It was good to be in the world again after all those years cooped up with dad.

I squinted when the lights came up and saw you standing stage right next to the accordion player. The drummer had far too much facial hair for my liking and for some reason I took an instant dislike to the piano player. I think it was because he kept winking at a young woman two seats down from where I sat.

You moved away from the clarinettist, who contorted his face and body so much when he began to tune his instrument, that I was forced to lower my gaze to avoid witnessing his grimaces. I’m glad I did, for when I looked up again, my eyes rested upon you. You were staring at the ceiling, instrument tucked under your arm, paying attention to something other than the music. Standing still all statue-like, I gazed at you and wondered if you had indeed turned to stone. If so, I’d place you in my garden by the dried up pond.

When it was your turn to play, you sparked into life as though switched on by an invisible flick. I may have drooled when your fingers slid right to the top of the neck of the violin. The shrill and lilting notes you played made my backbone dance involuntarily. You made me yours that evening, by the stroke of a bow on horsehair.

Hope you enjoyed this extract. Please feel free to comment. Thank you!

If you are interested in my short stories, I have a collection on amazon called – Glimmer and other stories.

Here is the link: http://bookShow.me/B00H89AN1M

Also my author website link: http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/

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Pottering about with a Polaroid

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I was given a Polaroid camera today. Lovely present. I haven’t used one of these things since the late 1990’s. I always found them very difficult to use, in that the viewfinder is tiny and far away from the lens, so trying to compose a picture is tricky, especially when photographing something close up.

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With the photo below, what I saw  through the viewfinder didn’t exactly match up with the final version. Still, it makes a nice B&W photo of a sleepy cat.

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I had a lot of fun using the Polaroid camera, and will get the hang of it eventually. Pity the film is so expensive though.

I scanned the photos into my computer and fiddled around to create some different effects.

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Does anyone else have a Polaroid? If so, do you use it regularly?

Any tips on how to get a decent exposure when using it outside?

National Short Story Week on Kindle – Amazon

It is National Short Story Week on Amazon Kindle. So, to celebrate this wonderful event, I have reduced my anthology of short stories to $0.99 and £0.77 (or the equivalent in other Amazon territories)

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Glimmer and other stories is a collection of seven compelling and darkly humorous stories that deal with obsession, loss, redemption and hope.

In these tales of mysterious liaisons, supernatural intrigue, deathly hauntings and disturbing fixations, characters reveal hidden secrets, forbidden urges, untold yearnings and skills in necromancy.

Also, I thought you might like to read the beginning of one of my  unpublished stories that will be included in a second anthology – all based on paintings from Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch.

The Shivering Oak was inspired by Chagall’s painting called Autumn in the Village

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Coward.

To hide up a tree like a rat.

I am not concealed.

I am here for all to see. Lounging larger than the roof I recline upon. Or so it seems to me from my high vantage point.

Weakling.

You are not invisible. I know where you are, and I can wait.

I shall not grow tired or hungry. I am nourished by the warm May winds that tickle my flesh and brush against my lips, which are red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, now that I glance at my reflection in the darkened window of the house opposite, I think they resemble the hue of the roses on my dress. Or perhaps they are nearer the shade of the berries on the holly bush that grows below your dangling feet.

Perhaps I should let Genghis off his leash?

No, I will wait and watch you struggle to maintain your position whilst gripping onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me at last years Christmas concert, even before we officially met.

The village hall was crammed. I was forced to stand at the back and peer over the shoulders of the tall men. I didn’t mind though. It was good to be in the hub of things after so many years cooped up with Dad. The lights came up and I saw you standing stage right next to the accordion player. You were staring at the ceiling, instrument tucked under your arm. When it was your turn to play, you seemed to be switched on by an invisible flick. How you came to life. I may have drooled when your fingers slid right to the top of the neck of the violin. The shrill, and lilting notes you played made my backbone dance involuntarily and I almost fell.

I wonder when you will fall. Because, fall you will.

The tree is shaking. You are loosing your footing. I hear the crack of branches snapping. This young oak cannot hold your weight. Not that you are heavy. You are not. I should know, I picked you up as though you where a cloud that time Genghis ran into your backside. The crunch your bone nose made when it met the pavement outside the village bakery resounded all the way to the church. Father Laurence made a rare visit to the outside world to see what the commotion was all about. Laura, your sister, Howard, the police constable, and several other members of the village parish council, made a ring around your fallen self and all, except for me, tutted and shook their heads. Father Laurence mumbled, “Ah, Peter, Peter, drunk again and so early in the morning?”

You gargled a bit then tried to stand, but fell again emitting another squelching sound, this time of gristle. I, all heroine-like, fluttered down to your level and offered my clean handkerchief. You took it in your left hand and held out your right for me to take. I did and felt the softness of your palm, a stark contrast to the thick-skinned roughness of your fingertips. I pulled you up as though you had no weight. You blinked and stared into my eyes and gave a little smile. I flushed at such an intense stare, then you snotted out some blood and my mood changed somewhat.

“Yeah, thanks. I don’t know what happened. I felt a thud and there I was flat out sniffing up dirt,” you said and tried to push the soiled kerchief back into my hand.

“No, no, you keep it.”

 “Sure?”

“Positively.”

“Well, thanks again.”

“Come on Peter, you are making a fool of yourself,” Laura said.

“How? I fell over, so what?” you said, your voice becoming shrill.

The gathered people began to murmur and look at each other as if to say, “He is always getting into trouble. Typical musician, they’re all bad.” I gave them a nasty look, and when Genghis tugged on his lead they shuffled away; remembering the devastation he caused the last time he broke free.

To get your copy of Glimmer and other stories, please go to these Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1408436081&sr=1-2&keywords=glimmer+and+other+stories

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?

Haikus for Boris the Feral Cat – in honour of National Black Cat Day

boris up closishSince it is National Black Cat Day, I thought that I would re-blog this post relating the story of a plucky feral cat we named Boris. He has overcome so much and is now a loving and talkative feline that loves to play and be cuddled.

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About a year ago a black feral tomcat came into our garden and decided to stay. He would come and go and catch the rats that plagued us. So, to thank him we began to give him some food. Winter came along and he shivered in the cold. We built him a kennel and he kept as warm as he could. Gradually over the months he became quite friendly and allowed us to pet him. One day he didn’t turn up. Not that unusual, especially in the warmer months, he would go off for a few days at a time, return famished and sleep for a while before going away again. This time he was missing for a week. Then we saw him squatting by the place we fed him. He stood and limped over to us. He had been in a terrible accident. His back legs were badly injured, one was very swollen and his tail had been stripped of all its fur.


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He was thin and clearly in a lot of pain. We nursed him as best we could and gradually he recovered. During the course of his recovery, he became the most loving and affectionate cat I have ever known. Now, Boris, as we called him, is our shadow and follows us everywhere when we go outside. He is so adorable and very talkative. He loves to be cuddled and plays with various toys our other cats have long forgotten about. He will never be able to join us indoors, because we have several other felines that would object strongly, but he is welcome to be our outside cat and we will continue to make sure he is warm and well fed. To celebrate his return to health, I decided to do some slow synch flash photographs of Boris at play, and write some Haikus to go along with the pictures. I have fiddled with the photographs to try and make them look more like paintings or pastel art works.

So, here’s to Boris. One hell of a cat!! Boris blue

From out of the blue

Whiskers and claws, swipe at the

Mouse unused to play

Boris jumping

Feral leaves, feral

Cat, both fall and tumble in

Autumn’s blustering

Boris eyes Beyond the greyness

Red. A slash of hue amidst

The colourless day

Boris wooly bully

They become circle

For one brief moment and then

Split like a seedpod

Boris times two

He wanders solo

Shrugging off the shoulder ghost

His Doppelganger

Boris most of him

Half in the picture

Long white nails scratch at the air

Summer leaves behind  

Happy National Black Cat Day to Boris and all the other black cats in the world!!

boris handsome   boris narrow eyes  Boris beautiful