Two dozen brilliant photographs by the under-appreciated Maurice Tabard fill a room at the Sander Gallery, 2600 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Tabard, born in France in 1897, came to this country in 1918 to paint but gradually turned to photography. Joining the Bachrach Photography staff in 1922, he was for some years the Bachrach representative in Washington before returning to Paris during the great '20s art revolution.
There, he became fast friends with painter George Braque, whose influence can be seen in the guitar photos in the show here, lurking in the shadows of a double exposure, married to a tennis racket in a striking study of curve and rectangle.
After World War II, Tabard returned to this country and worked for Harper's Bazaar and other fashion sources.Like Edward Steichen, whose stunning fashion photography has long outlived the fashions it depicted, Tabard's commercial pictures raised the products to a level their very designers hardly dreamed of. A shiny metal place setting with metal fluted cup becomes a subtle abstraction, dazzling in streaks of white light, the fork's tines so clean and sharp that one feels one has never truly seen a tine before.
Other work in this rare show -- many of Tabard's negatives were lost in the Nazi occupation of Paris -- has the feel of Europe in the '30s: geometric Bauhaus-style studies (a staircase slashed by a ribbon of light from which two eyes stare), photograms that remind one of early Man Ray, solarizations, multiple exposures. Tabard scored a huge success in the seminal 1929 Stuttgart film and photo show dominated by Bauhaus artists, and his work reflects this.
Today, ailing and 84, Tabard lives in France with his family, enjoying the international recognition which is gradually coming to him at last.
The Sander Gallery, reached on the Calvert Street side of the corner, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 6, until Sept. 12.