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Title: James Joyce's Dublin (Meeting before a Match), 1964
Date: 1964
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
15 x 22 cm
Signed: on verso: Ruth Hartmann (the Artist's Wife)
Credit Line: Purchased, 2018
Object Number: NGI.2018.118
DescriptionErich Hartmann visited Dublin for the first time in 1964. He had already explored the city extensively in his imagination, ever since he first read James Joyce’s Ulysses. But now he came in reality, and he brought his cameras. Eager to understand the strange mix that spawned great artistry but repelled the artist, he wandered the city searching out every place and incident of Joyce’s fictional June day sixty years before. This search resulted in more than an evocation of a novel. It is a record of Erich Hartmann’s own journey of discovery through Dublin, captured in over 3,000 images.
In a manner reminiscent of the photographic style of Alexander Rodchenko and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Hartmann photographs two young boys and men looking through pamphlets before the match they’re attending kicks off from an aerial perspective. Shooting from an elevated position is a consistent throughout Hartmann’s photographic series of Dublin. Excluding a small glimpse of the profile of the boy on the furthest left, the faces of the four figures in the photograph are concealed from the viewer. Emphasis is placed on their attention to the pamphlets and to the ground upon which they are standing. The intersecting lines in the pavement beneath their feet splits the composition into four parts. The shadows of the figures stand out against the pale backdrop of the pavement and in tandem with their dark suits and hats create an interesting contrast between darkness and light. The jacket of a fifth figure who is cut out of the photograph can be seen in the lower right-hand corner of the image and the viewer imagines that the men in the foreground will too walk out of the image and into the stadium any minute.
ProvenanceErich and Ruth Hartmann, 1964-2007; Clair by Kahn Gallery, 2007; purchased, Clair by Kahn Gallery, Zurich, 2018
Inscriptionon verso (in pencil, print code): 64-30 73/21 A