The Spectre of Coca-Cola

1962, printed 1973


Image: 34.29 x 24.76 cm (13 1/2 x 9 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Photograph, gelatin silver print, ferrotyped

Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art, Photography



Clarence John Laughlin’s career, which spanned the 1930s through the 1960s, was inextricably entwined with the South, particularly the city of New Orleans. Laughlin was fascinated by the sometimes disorienting aspects of everyday things, in this case the spectral image encountered in an old Coca-Cola sign. The effect of the raking light falling across flecks of rust on the corroded tin sign conjured up for the photographer a ghostly image of a more benign past. Although Laughlin’s sensibility is modernist, his work is imbued with a characteristically southern penchant for the spiritual and the poetic, the decaying and the surreal, which he shared with writers such as William Faulkner and Carson McCullers.


Below image in black ballpoint L. to R.: title, date, signature verso: photographer's stamp and annotations


Nancy R. Moss, New Orleans, LA; purchased March 1983.

Credit Line

Sophie M. Friedman Fund


The Historic New Orleans Collection, accession no. 1981.247.1.1373.