Art: No Poses

3 minute read

Latest of “Candid Camera” experts is Reinie Lohse, a Puerto Rico-born Dane. Last January he was nobody. Last week his photographs were featured in six magazines (The Stage, Vogue, Vanity Fair, American Magazine, Cottier’s, Town & Country) and he held a one-man show. The 200 photographs on the walls of the Atlantic Beach Club at Long Beach, L. I. Last week were chiefly on theatrical subjects, all unposed. A tiny Contax camera looking like a child’s harmonica, with a rapid-fire F 1.3 lens had turned them out the size of a special delivery stamp. Lohse had enlarged them six times and in their tight, strong compositions the subjects still looked natural.

Highlight of the exhibition was a series taken in Manhattan burlesque theatres. Lohse had surreptitiously snapped queens of the famed “strip” routine in the split-second of removing their last skirt and flouncing into the wings. He had caught the slovenly posturing of the chorus on the runway. Other series showed the chorus of Take a Chance (TIME, Dec. 12) swirling their skirts, Jazz Singer Ethel Merman in consecutive poses of singing “Rise and Shine,” colored Ethel Waters singing ”Stormy Weather,” Actress Lynn Fontanne Lunt making up her face, and the show girls of Manhattan’s low-priced Paradise night club stepping languidly onto the floor, topheavy in vast headdresses. From unposed angles of posed spectacles Photographer Lohse had progressed to Manhattan scenes at night: a night newsboy buying his papers from a delivery man, idlers mooning into store windows. One series showed pauper children, black & white, eating at a soup-kitchen board; another showed primped little scions of the rich at Publisher Conde Nast’s party for his daughter Leslie’s third birthday.

Like Candid Cameraman Erich Salomon, Photographer Lohse has no secret technique, depends on snapping well-composed pictures, developing and enlarging them himself. His F 1.3 lens is the fastest used, excepting only the cinema’s F 1.4. His little Contax special cost him $225 (the lens alone $170), a telephoto attachment to catch long-distance candid shots $80 more. He has a right angle telescope-finder to snap people while they think he is snapping someone else.

Heavyset, unaffected, truculent-looking, Remie Lohse, 40, has yellow fingernails from the methylhydroquinone he uses in developing his tiny photographs. Once his fingers were paint-stained. Leaving Puerto Rico where first his grandfather and then his father were Scandinavian vice-consuls, he studied painting at Denmark’s Royal Academy, exhibited a few academic landscapes, interiors and nudes. In 1928 he arrived in the U. S. to wangle odd jobs, worked up to testing the water content of chewing gum in a Long Island City chiclets factory, finally in 1929 to an art department job in Manhattan’s Erwin. Wasey Advertising Company. Last January he was discharged.

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