Almost as carefree is the late American photographer Saul Leiter’s Blue Dress (1950s). Too high spirited to be a typical Leiter, it is nonetheless filled with his idiosyncrasies, peeking as it does through obstacles to catch a glimpse of a sharp punctum of colour. But the most joyous photograph in Somerset House was Guitty in Biarritz 1905 by the always-exuberant Jacques Henri Lartigue. Guitty is all running, twisting dynamism at the sea shore as the water laps at her feet. Even though she is turned away from us, and is so heavily clothed we don’t really see her at all, a vivacious joie de vivre shines through.
These were the women. But what of the quiet landscapes?
The opposite of Guitty in its silent stillness, the water’s edge is also the subject of Jungjin Lee’s desolate Wind 07-80 (2007), one of her typically lyrical landscape prints where the feel seems more important than the subject. Water also pervades Nadav Kander’s painterly Untitled IV(2016), a great vertical calm of dark green sea and light green sky pricked by a horizontal sliver of coast. It looks as much like a painting by Whistler as it does a contemporary photograph. By contrast, water only punctures the tranquility of Japanese photographer Takeshi Shikama’s vast Galician treescape, with its inaudible waterfall a tiny but vital detail in an overwhelming forest.