For Sitting, renowned fetish photographer Eric Kroll amassed a large collection of vintage snapshots by the obscure John K., an artist about whom little is known, save for the fact that over the course of an estimated forty years between the 1950s and the 1990s, he created hundreds of images of nude women sitting on various startling objects.
K. spent much of his life working as an amateur photographer in east Hollywood, explains Myles Haselhorst of Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books. After his death, his house was claimed by the city government of Los Angeles, and his photographs, held close to his chest for the duration of his life, were finally exposed to public consumption. Kroll first encountered K.’s work after following an advertisement for “Antique furniture and vintage porn,” and he was struck by the boldness and perversity that welled beneath the surface.
While K. certainly drew and painted off of the photographs, the images also provided him with private sexual material. Haselhorst suggests that the women themselves most likely took on their own roles within the image-making process, becoming both models and occasional collaborators. In addition to professional figure drawing models, strippers and everyday women also sat for the enigmatic John K., with some returning over the course of many years. Sometimes, more than one model shared the same clothing item or sat upon recycled objects.
K.’s anonymous subjects exist at the border of obscenity and elegance, appealing to frolicsome desires while maintaining an air of irreverent dignity. Even as they engage in certain off-color behaviors, they maintain their poise, situated slightly above us so as to convey a note of coquettish authority.
All images © Ampersand Gallery