A Nostalgic Longing for the 20th Century

Past and Present Backdrops and Scenes in the Skylight Studio of Josip Pelikan

A Nostalgic Longing for the 20th Century

Past and Present Backdrops and Scenes in the Skylight Studio of Josip Pelikan

Dragan Arrigler: Photo studio and the Pelikan Gallery, 2009. © Celje Museum of Recent History

Taking a visual stroll down the backdrops and sceneries of the master photographer Josip Pelikan is accompanied by commentary supplied by the Celje Museum of Recent History’s senior educator and carer of Pelikan’s collection, Helena Vogelsang. Painted backgrounds with various motifs used by Pelikan in both portraying and in his everyday work in the studio represent a key part of the photographer’s heritage and are part of a permanent exhibition in a skylight studio. It is the only preserved example of a skylight photo studio from the end of the 19th century in Slovenia. Various backdrops enabled the portrayed person to be presented in a way that suited him or her best; e.g. raising their social status, being placed in a specific environment or in a different position than the person occupied in real life. This surely influenced the popularity of portraits made in the wet collodion technique by contemporary photographer Borut Peterlin. In this way, the photographer revitalised the importance of Pelikan’s backgrounds and renewed the interest in old analogue photography techniques as well as a comprehensive studio portrait experience, which today no longer holds a prominent place among photographic practices.

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Among the Josip Pelikan's rich preserved legacy, the skylight studio presents us with painted backdrops with various portraiture motifs.
Reading time: 6 min.

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