Francis Joseph Bruguiere Biography

Francis Joseph Bruguiere




Francis Joseph Bruguière was born in San Francisco, California. He was the youngest of four sons born into a wealthy banking family and was privately educated. He was a brother of painter and physician Peder Sather Bruguière (1874-1967) and the grandson of banker Peder Sather.

In 1905, having studied painting in Europe, Bruguière became acquainted with photographer and modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz (who accepted him as a Fellow of the Photo-secession), and set up a studio in San Francisco, recording in a pictorialist style images of the city after the earthquake and fire; some of them were reproduced in a book called San Francisco in 1918. He co-curated the photographic exhibition at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, and nine of his photographs were included in The Evanescent City (1916) by George Sterling.

In 1918, following the decline of the family fortune, he moved to New York City where he made his living by photographing for Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar. Soon he was appointed the official photographer of the New York Theatre Guild. In this role he photographed the British stage actress Rosalinde Fuller, who was debuting in What's in a Name? (1920) – who became his partner for the rest of his life.

Throughout his life, Bruguière experimented with multiple-exposure, solarization (years ahead of Man Ray), original processes, abstracts, photograms, and the response of commercially available film to light of various wavelengths. Until his one-man show at the Art Centre of New York in 1927, he showed this work only to friends. In the mid-1920s, he planned to make a film called The Way, depicting stages in a man's life, to be played by Sebastian Droste with Rosalinde doing all the female parts. To obtain funding, Bruguière took photographs of projected scenes, but Droste died before filming started; so only the still pictures remain.

Bruguière sold his New York studio and moved with Fuller to London in 1928, where he continued his experimental photography, which he exhibited in Berlin in 1928 at the Galerie Der Sturm and in Stuttgart at the 1929 “Film und Foto” show. His 1929 book with Lance Sieveking Beyond This Point, contained two dozen new photographs, which were also shown in an exhibition at London’s Warren Gallery.

Bruguière created two works with the English writer Oswell Blakeston, an abstract film Light Rhythms in 1930 and a book Few Are Chosen: Studies in the Theatrical Lighting of Life’s Theatre in 1931. Bruguière’s photographs of English cathedrals, made with multiple exposures, were shown at the Warren Gallery in 1931. A trip to New York City the next year led to photographs of New York skyscrapers. The art director for the London advertising agency Lund, Humphries, Ltd., E. McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954), commissioned Bruguière to create avant-garde advertising posters and images in 1934. Then in 1937 he was commissioned to design the entrance to the British Pavilion and the Paris Exposition of that year.

Bruguière stopped his photographic work in 1940, retired to Middleton Cheney, an English village north of Oxford, where he pursued painting, the philosophy of Carl Jung (1875-1961) and began writing an autobiography. In ill health, he returned to London and died there in May 8, 1945.