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Teske, Edmund (1911-1996)    
 
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In early 1943, Teske was able to leave his position at the Rock Island Arsenal, and "terribly undone by the Chicago winters," he decided to move to Los Angeles. On his drive out to the West Coast, he visited and photographed the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Fellowship in Scottsdale, Arizona.

He was initially drawn to the romantic allure of Hollywood, and even toyed with the idea of becoming an actor. He found employment at Paramount Studios in the still department, but stayed "just long enough to know that wasn't what to do."

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The wealthy oil heiress Aline Barnsdall invited Teske to visit Olive Hill, her 36-acre site in Hollywood that she had intended to establish as an arts and theater complex.

Unfortunately, the project was never completed, but Teske eventually took up residence in a separate studio space on the site, adjacent to the landmark Hollyhock House, which Frank Lloyd Wright had designed for Barnsdall.

Teske was quickly embraced by the artistic and bohemian communities in the city, and began hosting informal gatherings on the sprawling grounds of Barnsdall's estate. His guests often included such artists as the photographer Man Ray, bisexual writer Anaïs Nin, gay film director George Cukor, the actor Joel McCrea and his wife, the actress Frances Dee, and the architect John Lautner, who had also been a member of Wright's Taliesin Fellowship in Wisconsin during the 1930s.

In 1945, Teske met writer Christopher Isherwood, who introduced him to the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta, which emphasizes the unity and connectedness of all things in the universe.

Subsequently, Vedantic thought, as well as Hindu mythology and symbolism, became a profound influence on Teske, leading him to explore the possibilities of merging multiple images in a single photograph and introducing symbolism into his work.

For example, he printed the same image of a naked male lying on his back with his genitals exposed and overlaid this image with a series of other images that included human faces, landscapes, interiors, or completely abstract subjects.

He also began experimenting with other darkroom techniques, such as solarization, the process by which some of the tones in a photograph are reversed by overexposure to light. He created a new process that was later known as duotone solarization, which Julian Cox has defined as a technique that "yields unique prints with reversed light and dark tones and unusual color effects in shades of mostly red or brown."

In 1950, with his Olive Hill studio scheduled for demolition, Teske rented a house in Topanga Canyon, in the Los Angeles area. He became friends with the blacklisted bisexual actor Will Geer (who would later play the beloved grandfather on the 1970s television series The Waltons). Teske joined Geer's theatrical group, Theatricum Botanicum, and used Geer as a subject for numerous photographic portraits until the actor's death in 1978.

Teske also became friends with the openly gay experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger. In 1954, Teske photographed Anger on a bluff in Topanga Canyon and overlaid the image with an engraving by Gustave Doré illustrating John Milton's Paradise Lost. Teske then created solarized and negative print variations, further abstracting the photograph and suggesting a mystical or spiritual otherworldliness.

Teske also collaborated, uncredited, with Anger on his short film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954).

In 1956, Teske had a small role as a painter in the biographical film Lust for Life, about the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh (played by Kirk Douglas), directed by Vincente Minnelli.

Teske's influence on other photographers grew in the 1960s when Robert Heinecken, the American photographer and conceptual artist, who taught at the UCLA Art Department and founded the department's photography program, invited him the join the UCLA faculty.

"He stood out in my mind," Heinecken later explained, "as an individual who had very valuable things to talk to young people about in terms of life experience as well as photography. He is completely unique, which is why I thought he would be effective. And he was."

Teske met Jim Morrison, lead singer for the rock band The Doors, in early 1970. Teske instantly became entranced by the singer's masculine beauty and the "poetic spirit of his nature." He embarked on a series of informal portraits of Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson. Teske's photographs later appeared on The Doors' 1970 compilation album 13 and the group's final studio album An American Prayer (1978), as well as in a book of Morrison's poetry, The Lords and the New Creatures (1970).

In 1990, Teske was shot at, and nearly killed, by an unknown assailant as he stood in the doorway of his studio, where he had lived for more than thirty years. He survived the attack, but the left side of his face was permanently disfigured.

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