Week 35 - 2015

Photogenic images

Lotte Jacobi, Photogenic #4. 1946-55/1978. Preus museum's collection

Photogenic images

"To create photogenics you must learn a whole new alphabet and experiment over and over again until you know what you're doing. That's the only way you can explore and approach the possibilities." Thus Lotte Jacobi describes her experimental method in the darkroom.


She was concerned with form and light, and in the mid-1940s she began to experiment with creating images without a camera. As her instructor she had the artist Leo Katz, who gave the name "Photogenic" to her images. It came from the term Fox Talbot used for pictures created or formed from light. Jacobi's images are a kind of photogram in which she used flash lighting in motion in the darkroom together with cellophane, among other elements. 


"Photo" derives from Greek and means "light." The word "photography" is a compound and means to "draw or write with light." In Lotte Jacobi's "Photogenics" this is literally what she does when she moves a light source over light-sensitive paper and captures both the light and the movement.


Lotte Jacobi (1896-1990) was a fourth-generation photographer who worked mainly as a portrait photographer first in Munich and Berlin, then after 1935 in the USA. Several of her pictures were shown on the Preus Museum's "Wall of Fame" in September 2015.