Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell: "the same pair of eyes, only different spectacles"

Book chapter


Humm, M. 2005. Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell: "the same pair of eyes, only different spectacles". in: Kukil, K (ed.) Woolf in the Real World: Selected Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Virginia Woolf Clemson University Digital Press. pp. 24-30
AuthorsHumm, M.
EditorsKukil, K
Abstract

Writing to Vanessa Bell in 1937, Woolf imagined ‘do you think we have the same pair of eyes, only different spectacles?’
From the age of fifteen, both Woolf and Bell took, developed and mounted photographs in albums throughout their careers. There are over 1,000 photographs in Woolf’s Monk’s House Albums and a similar number in the albums of Vanessa Bell. Both sisters wrote about photography and photography influenced their aesthetics and art. The modernist sisters used photography not simply as a documentary device but as a means of crossing the border between the visual and the unconscious.
The photographs reveal Woolf and Bell’s struggles with the public and the private, with formal aesthetics and everyday moments. The albums offer a crucial insight into those psychic mechanisms structuring Woolf and Bell’s aesthetics. For example Bell’s erotic photographs of her naked children are her ‘unconscious optics’ as well as a record of her world.
The paper shows how album photographs are vivid examples of Woolf and Bell’s ideas about aesthetics, the maternal, the erotic and identity.

KeywordsVirginia Woolf; Vanessa Bell; modernism; aesthetics; Roger Fry; photography album; paintings; maternal; childhood
Book titleWoolf in the Real World: Selected Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Virginia Woolf
Page range24-30
Year2005
PublisherClemson University Digital Press
Publication dates
PrintJun 2005
Publication process dates
Deposited29 Oct 2009
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10552/356
Additional information

Citation:
Humm, M. (2005) 'Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell: "the same pair of eyes, only different spectacles"', Published in Kukil, K (ed.) Woolf in the Real World: Selected Papers from the Thirteenth International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Clemson University Digital Press, 2005 pp 24-30.

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