Monday, January 31, 2011

The Photograph as Object.

Portraits - Evening, 1903
Artists must represent their work in books and websites through pictures.  These pictures are just a representation. (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) This is particularly difficult when the work is a photograph to begin with.  The self-portrait, with wife, by Edward Steichen is one of my favorite photographs. It is being featured in the current Met exhibit Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand.  The photographs made by Steichen that are displayed there need to be seen in person.  They suffer greatly as images in catalogs or even expensive coffee table books.  This particular photograph starts as a platinum print, and then has a second emulsion of gum-bichromate placed on top.  Many of his early works were made in this manner.  These are special objects as well as images.  The show is up until April 10th.  If you're in New York, make the effort to see it.  These are the clearest examples of why photographs are more than half-tone images (printed pages).  I also like In Memoriam from 1901. I found it hard to believe how much more there was to the tonality of this print, whose image I had always admired in books.
Decanter is an original photograph on marble.  The emulsion is hand applied in the darkroom.  It suffers in this representation also.  I have reproduced this work as a giclee print, too.  The print is very beautiful, but it is a different work than the 12" square marble.   More people are decorating with, and collecting, photographs.  This exhibition, or any exhibition, where the original works are displayed is worth your time.

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