-A I r
Taylor's new illustrations are an impressive addition to
the historic depictions of Alice. Taylor's use of antique
nineteenth-century photographic sources, including
anonymous daguerreotypes and tintypes, imbues her
imagery \ Ith a Victorian character appropriate to the
.setting of Carroll's narrative. Yet Taylor's use of
twenty-first-century digital processes and Photoshop
montage techniques results in images that are
simultaneously historic and contemporary.
Perhaps the most unsettling but inspired result of Taylor's
reliance on photographic sources is that she casts numerous
S-indi idual including young teenagers, not just little
girls-into the ever-changing roles and circumstances
of the bewildered Alice. Our familiarity with Carroll's
narrative makes it easy to identify Alice and the scene
depicted, but the obvious individuality of the different
girls representing Alice creates a powerful and somewhat
disturbing universality to the changing image of Alice.
Taylor's Alice is a complex, multi-faceted every-woman,
not a one-dimensional character. Irony is at the core of
C. arroll' story and even his use of language. Thus it is
especially appropriate that Taylor's use of the contradictory
illusions of photographic realism combined with digital
montage surrealism serves as a visual parallel to Carroll's
literary methods. Perhaps more than any conventional
illustrator or even Dali with his use of energetic surrealism,
Taylor has created a visual counterpoint to Carroll's
writing style, not just illustrations of his story
Carroll's tales of Alice's fantasy and travails are an ideal
subject for Taylor. Embracing the concepts of invention
H.P. Robinson, Fading Away, 1858, albumen silver print, George
Eastman House collection, gift of Alden :~'-:-I Boyer.
and ., nthe',r her art- ork it aligned more % ith the
tradition of dra uing and painting than ui h the docuientin
mode prevalent in photography let Ta.lor has al'o been
attracted io the unique a\ photograph, renders the
of Ta lor carliet arrma ork', were photographs of itill-lite
arrangement, of disparate common objectr *uclh a', plastic
to'_, doll furnirure and e'.en dead bird; often U_ -taposed
in dirurbing \wa%\ in thee radiation of imiular surreal art-ork
b Na\ M rn>rt lo.eph t._ornell and Frederick som lner
Tallor fOLInd her nmor prierful \rice %,hen she began
u'ing a ,canner ather than j traditional camera to capture
and transtorin cominmin object; into malleable images
Through her skillful une of Phomrhlp Tailor combines
and mianpuljttc- digital Ilage- in a\~ not limited b\ the
'IZe coloi 'uirtfae or other quaidliie of her original sources.
vet her fihnl Iriage,' till retain their ob\ ioui photographic
origin A ca n ofd a maill china figurine i, the source of the
white e Rabbit', head while his I lerald costume i from a
snapshot Ta lor took of a clothing mannequin in a theater
Alice's flamingo crquer mallet is a composite from
multiple sources starting with a scan of a toy and a glossy
tourist postcard. Taylor's Almost Alice series includes a broad
range of transformations, but even seemingly simple
images such as O0 est ma chatte? are the result of radical
changes. This is evident in a comparison between the final
image and the source daguerreotype used to portray Alice.
The daguerreotype is just one of many sources layered
together to create the final image. Taylor radically changed
color, scenery and countless other elements, yet the central
portrait image still retains the power of the photographic
source and the piercing stare of a very real young girl from
more than 150 years ago.
Taylor's modern digital montage approach is directly
related to the origins of serious "art" photography as
pioneered by Victorian photographer, H.P. Robinson.
To gain respect for photography as an art, he perfected
a technique of "combination printing" using multiple
negatives. Robinson's 1858 masterpiece, Fading Away,
depicting a sick young girl surrounded-by her concerned
family, was not a real death bed scene, but a sentimental
photographic illusion carefully composed from five
different negatives (one for each separate figure and
a fifth for the background) This tour-de-force of
photographic technique proved photographers could
construct a picture like a painter and even deal with
melodramatic themes common to Victorian art salons.
Early twentieth-century Modernist photographers rejected
the idea of imitating painting to legitimize photography.
I agbT, -,. R. I-hl -r~nriI A I ,e r. Ii .'v-r I::I wood engraving.
It's always tea-time.
However, in the 1960s and 1970s, the distinctly
photographic possibilities of montage and combination
printing were revived and explored by numerous
experimental photographers, most notably Jerry
Uelsmann, Taylor's mentor at the University of Florida
and later husband. Uelsmann and many of his contemporary
colleagues have continued their commitment to the craft
and beauty of traditional black-and-white film and
printing processes, but Taylor's digital manipulations *
and final inkjet prints defy the traditional categories of
photography, painting, drawing and printmaking. Her
pictures may technically be illustrations because they are
derived from and accompany Carroll's story, but they also
have a life and imaginative power of their own independent
of his text. Taylor's AlmostAlice is a provocative series of
images filled with multiple meanings and uian'% ered
questions, much like Carroll's original tale. This is a
posthumous collaboration we might expect the author
would have truly enjoyed.
THOMAS W. SOUTHALL
curator ofphotography, harn museum of art
6y M \1\,6 II IA\ I OR
JULY 15, 2008-OCTOBER 19, 2008
SAMUEL P. HARN MUSEUM OF ART
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Exhibition organized by the Samuel P. Ham Museum of Art.
Exhibition and national tour made possible by a gift from a
generous donor with additional support provided by the
Londono Family Endowment.
Tour of this exhibition arranged by Curatorial Assistance, Inc.,
Pasadena, California. For information about the tour contact
The exhibition includes all forty-five of Taylor's Almost Alice
series in pigment inkjet prints (image size 15," 22" and 3o" square).
All works are on loan from the artist.
All of Taylor's Almost Alice work is featured in the new edition
of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland published by
Modernbook, 2008. modiin'. l ,,.k .m,,,,I i.h'li, .I lihEi,,i
a Harn Museum Almost Alice Web page with links to Carroll
references and related sites harn.uJfedu almostalice.html
" Maggie Taylor maggietaylor.com
" Related exhibition of historic editions of Carroll's Alice selected
from University of Florida Library's Baldwin Library of Historical
Children's Literature oril' fI.d J i eil *h./..
COVER IMAGE: A very difficult game indeed. (detail)
ionf FfratS...dshiclun d
.A sw 34th Street and Hull Road UNIVERSITY
GainesvilleFL 32611-2700 FLORIDA
TEL 352392.9826 harn.ufl.edu