Rudy Burckhardt (aka Rudolph Burckhardt)
American, born Switzerland,
Enjoy Red Rock Cola, Alabama
7 in. x 10 5/16 in. (17.78 cm x 26.19 cm)
Medium and Support:
Gelatin silver print on paper
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase
© The Estate of Rudy Burckhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photographer, painter, and filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt produced a number of photographs during a trip to the American South in 1948. Author Phillip Lopate says of these works that they "convey more of the power and grit one associates with his best images."* Burckhardt brought his characteristic cinematic style of capturing moments to record daily Southern life, however, his vantage point is different from many photographers.
In "Enjoy Red Rock Cola, Alabama," 1948 Burckhardt once again combines his favorite subjects: people and architecture. Focusing on a whitewashed building decorated only by two murals advertising sodas, Burckhardt captures a man strolling to an unknown destination. This is a quiet image and the action is subtle. Yet, Burckhardt masterfully composes his shot, framing the image so that the sweeping power lines carry the viewer's eye from the top right to the middle left of the photograph, then the viewer's eye catches the movement of the man walking, drawing attention towards the left edge of the photograph. The image is a like a movie still, freeze framing a moment in a larger story. Where is the man going? Where is he coming from? Answers to these questions are mysterious but what Burckhardt does capture is a visual record of both the time and the place. This image, along with his other travel photographs and street scenes are documents of urban life.
*Philip Lopate, "Rudy Burckhardt," p. 24.