August Strindberg’s Celestographs “sans appareil ni lentille” (Famous Works Strindberg)


The Swedish author, painter, playwright and photographer, August Strindberg (22 January 1849 – 14 May 1912), created “Celestographs,” by exposing bare, glass, photographic plates to the night sky. His experimental method was “sans appareil ni lentille”(without camera and no lens). He would leave his photo-sensitized plates lying on the ground or already soaking in a developer bath and expose them to the elements during a starry night. Strindberg claimed to be an alchemist and occultist and fervently practiced these arts while in Paris, as described by himself in his autobiographical work “Inferno.” His Celestograph series was made in the winter of 1893 to 1894 in Dornbach, Austria. None of the original plates have survived, but many contact prints are on display at The National Library of Sweden. Additionally, the New Museum (NYC) exhibited his celestographs in After Nature in 2008, and the Tate Modern (London) exhibited August Strindberg: Painter, Photographer, Writer  in 2005.

Title Image: August Strindberg, “Celestograph XIII” (1893-94)