Research and Analysis: Jerry Uelsmann

American photographer Jerry Uelsmann was the forerunner of photomontage in America during the 20th century. He created his montages in an era that had not yet seen the widespread use of the art form in the US. His work is always produced in black and white, and he usually creates his montages by lining up multiple exposures of images meticulously. Unlike Peter Kennard, Uelsmann didn’t have any political messages or moral commentaries behind his artwork. Instead, he created surrealist montages that were more about exploring the alternative realities and exploring spirituality.

boat uelsmann

The montage above is an example of Uelsmann’s experimentation with surrealism, which was a common theme throughout his work. The background image of the lake, mountains and sky has been mirrored to create a perfectly symmetrical foundation for the rest of the image, which displays his attention to composition techniques. Then in the very middle of the montage, Uelsmann has put a boat in the sky that appears to be disappearing through the clouds. He has also placed a figure in the water that seems to be peering up at the boat as it flies through the sky. There is no definitive meaning behind this piece, as with many of Uelsmann’s works, but it is still a thought-provoking piece.



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