Arts and Gardens

Painters on ladder

The Sepia-tone photograph shows a man standing on a ladder with his back to us, and the shadow of the man and the ladder. The motive is simple, but shows Ralph L. Wilson's exploratory approach to form.

Ralph L. Wilson: Malere på stige, 1910/-30.
Ralph L. Wilson: Malere på stige, 1910/-30.
Morten Heiselberg

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The developed picture is a detail of the larger negative Malere på stige (Painters on ladder). The background consists entirely of a wall. The man on the ladder is holding a paint bucket and is in the process of painting the wall. The ladder is standing straight, parallel to the vertical edges of the picture. Its shadow, on the other hand, is slanting towards the left, forming a right-angled triangle. The lack of depth and the geometric touches make for a modernist expression.

The shadow of the man is bigger and wider than himself. His flat cap is greatly extended in the shape of the shadow, creating associations to an alligator or anteater in a suit.

Ralph Lindqvist Wilson (1872-1951) was an engineer, and from 1909 head of the Bergen waterworks. Wilson was an avid and productive amateur photographer, and left thousands of photographs and negatives that can be found in the Picture Collection at UB. He worked creatively and experimentally with the camera, and alternated between taking snapshots and photographing artfully composed scenes. The collection of Wilson's photographs shows us life in Bergen in the early 1900's, both in the private and the public sphere.