The Art of Artlessness: Motherhood, Warts and All

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2016)

Photographer and feminist Anna Ogier-Bloomer has spent the last few years documenting her life as the mother of a baby (now toddler) girl, Violet. In keeping with Ogier-Bloomer’s philosophy as a documentarian of the mundanities and biological realities of motherhood, the images are not always pretty, but they are genuinely fascinating.

This image, taken the first night home with the new baby, shows Ogier-Bloomer with her still-bloated body after the recent birth. The photographer’s mother lies behind her.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - First night home, 2013

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – First night home, 2013

Anna Ogier- Bloomer - Asleep, week one, 2013

Anna Ogier- Bloomer – Asleep, week one, 2013

Anna Ogier- Bloomer - Grandpa had a cold the first time he met my daughter, Cincinnati, Ohio 2014

Anna Ogier- Bloomer – Grandpa had a cold the first time he met my daughter, Cincinnati, Ohio 2014

Several of the images feature Ogier-Bloomer breastfeeding her daughter. Breastfeeding in public has become a battleground for mothers’ rights in the last few years as more and more mothers are choosing to forsake bottled formula for breast milk owing to its many health benefits for the baby. Breastfeeding also helps the baby to bond with its mother.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Tug, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Tug, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Splayed, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Splayed, 2014

Contrast these images with that of Violet’s father bottle-feeding her, where only his hand is visible. This composition somewhat alienates the father, making him feel more emotionally distant from the baby than the intimate images of mother breastfeeding her.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Evening feeding with Daddy, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Evening feeding with Daddy, 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Nursing and peeing, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Nursing and peeing, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Violet hot, removing her pants, Los Angeles, California 2015

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Violet hot, removing her pants, Los Angeles, California 2015

In addition to Ogier-Bloomer’s photos of her own family (largely documented in the two series Letdown and Family Pictures), she also sometimes captures the children of friends and relatives.

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Backyard pool, Los Angeles

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Backyard pool, Los Angeles

Anna Ogier-Bloomer - Alanni and Mia in rashguards, Los Angeles, California 2014

Anna Ogier-Bloomer – Alanni and Mia in rashguards, Los Angeles, California 2014

 

6 thoughts on “The Art of Artlessness: Motherhood, Warts and All

  1. In my opinion, the “Feeding & Peeing” picture looks untasteful to me- “scatological” is the word.

    Maybe it is just an opinion, but I consider that physiological functions should remain separated from the other ones of a woman. It looks like Ms. Ogier- Bloomer were giving her child what she has left over and not what belongs to the child. I understand that person is a feminist activist but her attitude not only limits the male, but tries to nullify it.

    My two cents.

    • The thing about art is, it doesn’t have to be beautiful. I think the point of these images is to show motherhood as it is rather than the sort of mystical way that artists–males artists in particular–often portray it. She is saying that this perspective is no less legitimate as art than is the typical ‘Madonna’ portrait of motherhood. Obviously I agree or I would not have posted these images. I really don’t get your point about how these images “nullify” males. In what sense?

      • In my own opinion, THAT image was one of the two most beautiful of these images. Every person’s concept of beauty (and of ugliness) is unique to that individual.

        • This is true as well. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a hint of this in the title of this post: The Art of Artlessness. Of course, art need not be beautiful to be art, but generally art has some kind of aesthetic appeal.

  2. In one way her approach reminds me of Sally Mann:
    Abandoning the idea that all pictures have to be beautiful,
    and being realistic instead.
    But one big difference is that she is a lot more “modest” about depicting her child,
    even though the child is a baby.

    • Well, I get the feeling that it’s less about protecting her child’s modesty than it is getting the right moment on film. Was it Henri Cartier-Bresson who talked about capturing the decisive moment? In the image where Violet is removing her shorts, the act itself is probably more interesting than a simple image of her with her clothes off. We’ve all seen undressed toddlers in photography already. But wouldn’t you agree that her facial expression as she’s taking off her clothing is interesting? You can almost see the frustration there of the heat getting to her. Maybe too Ogier-Bloomer was worried about indecency charges being leveled against her, a legitimate fear for photographers of children these days, no?

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