by Walter Robinson

Alfred Gescheidt: Photographs 1949 – 1979



Over at 764 Madison Avenue at East 66th Street, in a cozy third-floor walkup, is Higher Pictures, the photo gallery opened several years ago by Kim Bourus, a veteran of Magnum Photos, among other things. Last year, Higher Pictures gave the first show ever to “Younger than Jesus” discovery LaToya Ruby Frazier, and ended up selling about 40 of her photos; a book is in the works.

This time around, the announcement card for the September show at the gallery was a photocollage of a small figure of a nude man in the foreground facing the open legs and dark hairy sex of a giant female nude. Somehow it tickled my memory — was this some Jungian ur-image?

The name of the artist, Alfred Gescheidt, was certainly familiar, and — Bourus provided the clue — back in the 1970 he had regularly published his “Erotic Humor” series in Oui magazine, which I may have looked at once or twice. Born in 1926 and still living in Manhattan, after the war Gescheidt pioneered this kind of photo work, but found himself laboring in the advertising field, doing “let your fingers do the walking” illustrations and such like.

In 1964 Gesheidt published his own book of humorous photos, called 30 Ways to Stop Smoking, now very rare. Many of the originals are on view here, with prices beginning at $4,000, a bargain for a piece of history. My favorite — speaking as someone who stopped with the cigarettes about 20 years ago and am only now suffering the onset of asthma — is the determined fellow lighting up with a stick of dynamite.


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