What's Pablo holding?
June 24, 2009 5:01 PM   Subscribe

What kind of flashlight did Pablo Picasso use to create the first "light painting" photographs?

In 1949, Gjon Mili visited Pablo Picasso in the Riviera and together they created the first "light painting" photographs. Everywhere that I've seen this documented, the caption explains that Picasso drew in the air with a flashlight. However, if you look closely at the Picasso/Mili photos from LIFE Magazine, his "flashlight" has a long cord that makes it look as though it's a plug-in lamp of some sort.

Wikipedia indicates that battery-powered flashlights existed as early as 1898, and ANSI had already standardized battery sizes by 1947. So battery-powered flashlights must surely have been the norm by the time these photos were taken, right?

Speculation aside, do any of you Picasso-nerds, art-history buffs, or flashlight-history-aficionados know what type of lamp was or could have been used?
posted by myrrh to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If I had to guess, it's probably a bulb receptacle with a small, low-watt bulb. Cheap, omni-directional (as opposed to a beam like a flashlight), and no need to change batteries.
posted by junesix at 5:25 PM on June 24, 2009

I had always thought it was an amber, but looking closer there's the twisted wire going from his hand out of the frame, looking like an old timey electrical cable.

For what it's worth, the book I have [LIFE classic photographs. ISBN: 0-8212-2263-5] doesn't mention a flashlight and only have Mili quoted as saying "Why not have him draw in the dark, with a light instead of a pencil."

So that's one negative confirmation or whatever.
posted by monocultured at 12:18 AM on June 25, 2009

It almost looks as if they took the socket and bulb from some sort of small lamp. That would account for the twisted-pair leading to the light.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:46 AM on June 25, 2009

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