The Unexpected Art of Posing in Trees

Pin It
Frau Auf Baum, Kaktus 1953
Women in Trees, Courtesy of Jochen Raiß and Hatje Cantz

A new book looks at how one artist's flea market trawling unearthed a brilliant 1920s phenomenon – that of young women jauntily posing in trees

Next time you decide to treat yourself to a pleasurable Sunday morning scour of your local flea market or bric-a-brac store, keep an eye on found photography, and see if you can spot any vintage shots of well-preened women athletically clambering up trees. German artist Jochen Raiß spent 20 years rummaging through antique stalls in search of lost gems, and found that of women in trees to be a curiously frequent motif in amateur photography from the 1920s to the 1950s. Struck by the singularity of the theme, he quickly became an avid collector of these brilliantly peculiar pictures, and has now assembled his precious archive of over 1500 images into a book curated by Berlin-based publisher Hatje Cantz, titled Women in Trees.

These discarded snapshots offer an unusual through-the-keyhole glimpse at the bygone styles of the decades they span. Their protagonists provide perfect summer-dressing inspiration, decked as they are in crisp white cotton, draped blouses matched with pleated skirts and summery gingham dresses, topped by charming rolled-up hairdos. Whether they were sweetly modelling for their lovers or just tasting a bit of adventure is still a mystery, although Raiß has his own romantically infused theory about their intentions: “They’re well-dressed, look happy, and some of them seem to be really in love. They’re young people who went out with a camera, got up to some shenanigans, and captured their happiness in a snapshot.”

And indeed, imbued with a refreshing embrace of the outdoors, a compelling dose of good humour and an utterly captivating nostalgic air, this array of gray-scale pictures is guaranteed to chase your office-induced claustrophobia away.

Happy Monday! #AnOtherHappyMonday

Women in Trees by Jochen Raiß is out now, published by Hatje Cantz.