History of photography

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History of photography
Abbe James
Allen Albert
Bailey David

Beaton Cecil
Cunningham Imogen
Carroll Lewis
Drtikol Frantisek
Duhrkoop Rudolf
Eisenstaedt Alfred
Feininger  Andreas
Halsman Philippe
Heartfield John
Horst P. Horst
Kasebier Gertrude
Kirkland Douglas
Lartigue Jacques Henri
Laughlin Clarence John


Maar Dora
Man Ray

Miller Lee
Munkacsi Martin


Outerbridge Paul


Rodchenko Alexander
Skoglund Sandy
Smith William Eugene
Smith Rodney
Tabard Maurice
  Watson Albert
The New Era of Color Photography

Another significant transformation of camera imagery since the 1960s has been the increase in the number of creative photographers working with dye-color materials. Over the past several decades, improvements in color film and processing have resulted in widespread use of color, first for advertising and publicity photographs, and then for personal expression. The absence of color in photography had been regretted from the beginning; hand-coloring was considered not just acceptable but essential to enliven the pallid tones of daguerreotype and paper portraits, as well as some scenic views. Because both photographers and the public believed that images in color were more artistic and more natural, efforts to find workable color processes occupied individuals throughout the latter part of the 19th century. When the Lumicres began to market Autochrome in 1907, it was immediately successful.

The chromatic effects achieved on Autochrome plates were the result of adding starch granules stained with dyes to silver emulsion on glass. Later experiments to improve and simplify color photography were based on a different
theory , but they, too. involved the incorporation of dyes with silver. However, by the time a practicable dye-color film appeared on the market (three-color Kodachrome in 1935, Agfacolor Neu in 1936, followed by Ektachrome in 1946), the aesthetic of photography had changed. Most creative photographers of the time favored straight images of reality and found the opulent colors of the dyes used in film unsuitable for the depiction of the landscape, the documentation of social conditions, or even the conjuring up of subjective feelings. As a result, early color film was used mostly by amateurs and advertising photographers.

While most documentarians and aesthetic photographers ignored color photography, and snapshot amateurs seemed content with its cheery colors during the 1940s and '50s, the advertising community was determined to explore the potential of color for "making the implausible plausible." Arriving on the scene during the severe economic depression of the 1930s, color film was regarded as a way to glamorize images of hard-to-sell products. By coupling real and unreal, by creating abstractions and surreal statements, by giving consumer goods an attractive gloss, these early enthusiasts of commercial color helped establish a direction for work in color, Within the past 30 or so years, large numbers of photographers primarily concerned with self-expression have further expanded the boundaries of color photography.

Given the emphasis on abstraction in American visual art of the immediate postwar period, it is not surprising that of the few noncommercial photographers who did experiment with color film in the early years, several were most intrigued by its formal possibilities rather than its descriptive ability. In a 1946 abstraction based on window signs, Arthur Siegel treated the red neon tubing as an element in an allover linear pattern—a visual metaphor of nervous energy that not only evokes the tensions of modern urban life but also suggests the calligraphic style of several of the Abstract Expressionist painters. Seemingly more illusionistic in terms of its depiction of space is Harry Callahan's color image that plays off blocks of intense blue-green, black, and reds in a mundane street still life, giving pleasure with its geometric simplicity and its color contrasts.

ARTHUR SIEGEL. Untitled (Drycleaners), 1946.
Color (chromogenic development; transparency. Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago.

HARRY CALLAHAN. Chicago, 1951.
Dye-transfer (dye-imbibition) print. Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.

The natural landscape rather than the built environmerit engaged the interest of early noncommercial color photographers. Color film enabled Eliot Porter and Charles Pratt, for example, to create formally satisfying images and at the same time capture the array of colors found in rocks and foliage under varying conditions of light. Porter, who began his career as a naturalist photographer of bird life, often emphasized the delicate tracery of patterns and colors in foliage and grasses. In a view of Maine rocks, Pratt achieved an engaging balance between actuality—the weightiness and texture of the stones—and formal resolution: the abstract design and subtle modulation of color.

During the 1970s, the strong interest in abstraction among European and Far Eastern photographers was moderated by an attachment to the real world and a desire to celebrate its wonders in a fresh way. Landscapes by the Italian photographer Franco Fontana that on first glance appear to be geometric abstractions reveal themselves, on closer inspection, to be fields of wheat, flowers, or upturned soil. On the other side of the world, Hiroshi Hamaya of Japan and Grant Mudford of Australia exemplify photographers who handle color as an element both of nature and of art, seeking moments when light creates extraordinary chromatic happenings.

Within the last several decades, the preoccupation with the aesthetic potential of color photography has continued. The color in Ruth Orkin's many views from the window of her New York apartment is meant to reveal the beauty of atmospheric and seasonal changes. Jan Groover's finely tuned color sense and tasteful handling of form arc apparent in her polished tabletop still lifes. The lively color contrasts and geometrical arrangements of printed papers and reproductions of art composed and photographed by Victor Schrager are also unabashedly aesthetic.

Influenced by the pervasive interest in popular culture during the 1970s, many photographers turned to color for expressing their reactions to the consumerist emblems of American middle-class life—automobiles, eating places, swimming pools, advertising, and street signage. Among them, William Eggleston, who was singled out by John Szarkowski as die individual responsible for "inventing color photography," used color film to scrutinize the deserted streets, waste products, and abandoned cars in his home environment in the South. These works have been seen both as vivid evocations of the banality and uneasiness of small-town life and as aesthetically contrived chromatic exercises. Other Americans who, like Eggleston, produce what may seem at first glance to be a color catalog of visual facts of the American scene include William Christenberry, Joel Meyerowitz, and Stephen Shore. In switching from spontaneous views of street life to considered compositions of the built and the natural environments, Meyerowitz also transformed his handling of color, renouncing the jazzy dissonance of his earlier works for the mellow harmonies evident in his Cape Cod series. The cool and crystalline colors in Shore's images, along with their rigorous sense of architectonic structure, have the effect of laundering banal vistas; a street view made in Los Angeles transforms a chaotic jumble of gas stations and signage into an aesthetically satisfying object.

That dye-color materials tend to cast a rosy tint over landscape and urban scenes is evident in works by Mitch Epstein, David Hanson, Len Jenshel, and Joel Sternfeld, among others. Contrasting the muted grays and browns of die terrain and buildings with the ethereal glow of the set-ting sun, Epstein views the landscape of India as a stage setting for exotic effects, thus continuing in color a tradition established during the 1850s in black and white photographs of the Near East and the Orient. In the same sense, the tasteful colorations of the interiors by Kishin Shinoyama, Japan's renowned color photographer, seem to exude a romantic aura. These colorful works, along with such images as Meyerowitz's Cape Cod and St. Louis Arch series, often invite comparison with the glossy ads and color pages in travel magazines.

A somewhat different approach to color can be seen in the work of photographers who play up strident effects and unpleasing contrasts. Mark Cohen, for example, pushed saturated reds, blues, and yellows in order to emphasize the raucous energy he perceived in urban street life. Domestic interiors with humdrum objects and plants by Roger Mertin indicate that he adjusted exposure, processing methods, and lighting in order to drain the color of its lushness. The tedium of institutional life is emphasized by the uniformly somber tones of the lecture halls, libraries, and lobbies depicted by the German photographer Candida Hofer. Unreal coloration combined with blurred focus gives banal street scenes and interiors by the French photographer Dolores Marat a mysterious and painterly appearance. Photographers concerned with the deterioration of the landscape, including Richard Misrach and Barbara Norfleet, have found that color film makes the contrasts between unravaged nature and garish industrial waste all the more visible and poignant.

 ELIOT PORTER. Red Bud Trees in Bottomland near Red River Gorge, Kentucky, 1968.
Dye-transfer (dye-imbibition) print. Daniel Wolf, Inc., New York.

CHARLES PRATT. Maine, 1968.
Dye-transfer (dye-imbibition) print. Sander Gallery, New York.

GRANT MUDFORD. Ayers Rock, 1973.
Color (chromogenic development) transparency.

RUTH ORKIN. Balloon, 1977.
Gelatin silver print.

FRANCO FONTANA. Landscape, 1975.
Color (chromogenic development) transparency.


Franco Fontana is an Italian photographer born in Modena, Italy in 1933, best known for his abstract colour landscapes. Fontana's photos have been used as album cover art for records produced by the ECM jazz label.

He is known as the inventor of the photographic line referred to as concept of line He began working as an amateur photographer in 1961. His first personal exposition was in 1968 in Modena. Since then he has participated in more than 400 expositions - collective and personal - and his work is bought in approximately 60 museum collections all over the world. He has been signed for numerous publicity campaigns, as FIAT, VOLKSWAGEN, National Railways, VOLVO, VERSACE, CANON, KODAK, SNAM, STET, MONDRIAN, J.WALKER, ALITALIA, SWISSAIR, LA RINASCENTE. He works with TIME-LIFE, VOGUE USA, VOGUE FRANCE, VENDERDI DI REPUBBLICA, PANORAMA, FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE, EPOCA and many more distinguished publications. His work has been published in more than 40 books in various editions in Italian, Japanese, French, German, Swiss, English and Spanish. His numerous awards include the 1989 Tokyo Photographer Society of Japan - The 150 Years of Photography - Photographer Award.

JAN GROOVER. Untitled, 1979.
Type-C (chromogenic development) print. Blum Helrnan Gallery, New York.

WILLIAM EGGLESTON. Memphis, Tennessee, 1971.
Dye-transfer (dye-imbibition) print. Middendorf Gallery, Washington, D.C.

JOEL MEYEROWITZ. Porch, Prorincctown, 1977.
Ektacolor (chromogenic development) print.

MITCH EPSTEIN. Pushkar Camel Fair, Rajasthan, India, 1978.
Ektacolor (chromogenic development) print.

Color (chromogenic development) transparency.


Kishin Shinoyama Shinoyama Kishin?, b. Shinjuku, Tokyo, 3 December 1940) is a Japanese photographer.

Shinoyama graduated from Nihon University. He worked with the Light Publicity agency while still a student, and freelanced after graduation.
Shinoyama has put out a large number of books of photographs of girls, dressed, mostly undressed, and nude.
He is married to Saori Minami and their son is actor Akinobu Shinoyama.

RICHARD MISRACH. Flood, Snltou Sea, 1983.
Chromogenic dye-coupler print. Robert Mann Gallery, New York.

BARBARA NORFLEET. Catbird and Bedspring Debris, 1984.
Cibachrome print.


Controlling the color gives the photographer one more expressive tool in handling portraiture and still life. The illustrative settings and highly saturated hues that characterize Neal Slavin's group portraits of from two to two thousand figures lend a sprightly note to works that parody both commercial portraiture of the past and the fabrications of television ads. In still lires by Marie Cosindas, the muted yet harmonious colors are designed to enhance the unabashed romanticism projected by the objects themselves—old lace, brocades, dolls, flowers. Color and photographic manipulations work well together. Indeed, whether color is achieved by using dye-color films and prints; by employing such processes as Fresson (a complicated gum process), gum bichromate, and cyanotype; by hand-tinting images; or by selecting hues from among the millions available in computer pro-grams, it usually heightens the aesthetic and affective impact of these creations, as can be seen in a wide range of contemporary examples. To cite only a few: Rosamond W. Purcell is among those who combine color with montage to invent a personal iconography. The sense of uneasiness evoked by her metamorphoses of animal and human forms owes as much to the eerie colors as to the strange blending of shapes. In Olivia Parker's still life, the addition of bright red cords to the dull tones of the decaying pears affords an unsettling contrast. By massaging the wet emulsion of Polaroid film, Lucas Samaras creates lurid, dripping colors to accentuate his erotic fantasies. The vibrant colors in Barbara Kasten's architectural and nature scenes result from her adept use of tinted filters and gels and manipulative processing techniques to transform mundane structures into chromatic extravaganzas.

The revival of historical processes has enabled some contemporary photographers to use color while bypassing problems associated with dye-color materials. Hand-tinting—whether subtle, as in the work of Christopher James, who is restrained in his use of paint and toners applied to silver prints, or strongly chromatic, as in images by Janice Mehlman that maintain a tenuous balance between painting and photography—is one method of transforming the mechanically produced photograph into a unique object, of moving it from realism to art. Instead of using photographic emulsions as a base, images can be projected onto canvas, and bleaching agents, pastels, or tinting colors can be used. Turn-of-the-century processes that provided the Pictorialists of that time with a way to avoid "mechanicalization" have also been revived. Fresson printing is preferred by the French photographer Bernard Plossu and the American Sheila Metzner, while Betty Hahn and Bea Nettles favor gum bichromate in combination with other manipulations. In noting that "art is an attitude that produces an object by using media," Joyce Neimanas asserts the right recognized by all of these photographers to employ whatever means are available, including color, to create imaginative works.

In the hands of creative photographers, color can be romantically nuanced, bellicose, eerie, chic, or sensuous, but rarely is it real looking. In fact, in the past, photographs in color of real situations have added an aura of ambiguity, triggering an element of distrust on the part of viewers, perhaps because the saturated dyes of color film seem to have an equivocal relationship to the harsher realities of social conditions. Recent changes in taste, however, have made socially oriented documentation and photojournalistic images in color more acceptable.

Among the street photographers who have used color film to encapsulate their perceptions of urban social conditions are Bruce Davidson, Helen Levitt, Jerome Liebling, and Danny Lyon. Levitt, one of the first to find color film sympathetic to such endeavors, captured dissonances and harmonies, contrasting the drabness of tenement backgrounds with the lively colors of the clothing worn by her subjects. The hues in Davidson's large-format subway pictures are sometimes lurid and sometimes pretty, giving an edginess to the gestures and expressions of these bored and discontented riders of New York's underground. (In his later work in Central Park, Davidson returned to black and white, preferring panoramic format, optic distortions, and blurry focus to strident color as a way to suggest the meaning of the park for its users.)

That color has become acceptable to photographers who document social realities is in part due to the greatly increased use of color images in picture journals. During the 1950s, the dye-color films that had been perfected just before the second World War made it possible for photojournalists to work in color, while improved printing methods enabled the journals to print their stories. This is not to suggest that magazines had not printed photographs in color before this time. In fact, in the 1910s, some magazines, notably National Geographic, had regularly featured color reproductions from Autochrome plates. In general, though, color processes and the methods of making engraved or lithographic color plates for periodicals were too time consuming and expensive for popular journals. The color images taken by several of the Farm Security Administration photographers, for example, were not felt to be evocative enough, in contrast to their work in black and white, to warrant the expense of reproducing them in print media. In 1952, Life reproduced its first picture story in color—a series of views of New York by Ernst Haas. A former painter, Haas found color film to be an inspiring tool for "transforming an object from what it is to what you want it to be."

During the 1970s and '80s, color film improved, and magazines were even more willing to print in color, prompting greater numbers of photo journalists to use this material to express a wide range of perceptions about the actualities framed by their viewfinders. For instance, color adds a realistic dimension to Larry Burrows's images of Vietnam and augments the poignancy of Susan Meiselas's photographs of the Sandinista uprising in Nicaragua. Maggie Steber and Alex Webb are other photojournalists who have transformed war report-age by using color. Color enhances the dissolute sensuality of Miguel Rio Branco's story of the Maciel district in the Brazilian city of Salvador. With the increased use of digital cameras for recording events in the field, news documentation in color will undoubtedly become even more common.

NEAL SLAVIN. National Cheerleaders Association, 1974.
Ektacolor (chromogenic development) print.

MARIE COSINDAS. Conger Metcalf Still Life, 1976.
Polaroid (internal dye-diffusion transfer) print. Courtesy the artist.

ROSAMOND W. PURCELL. Untitled, c. 1978.
Polaroid (internal dye-diffusion transfer) print. Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery, New York.

OLIVIA PARKER. Four Pears, 1979.
Polacolor (internal dye-diffusion transfer) print. Marcuse Pfcifcr Gallery, New York.

LUCAS SAMARAS. March 19,1983, 1983.
Polaroid (internal dye-diffusion transfer) prints. PaceWildenstein Gallery, New York.

BARBARA KASTEN. El Medol, Roman Quarry, Tarragona, Spain, 1992.
Digital photo painting on vinyl acrylic, back-lit.

JANICE MEHLMAN. Midnight Passage, 1993.
Hand-painted silver print. Private collection.

SUSAN MEISELAS. Nicaragua, 1978.
Color (chromogenic development) transparency.

MIGUEL RIO BRANCO. Prostitutes of Model, Salvador, Brazil, 1976.
Color (chromogenic development) transparency.


Photography and the New Printing Technologies

The conjoining of the photographic image and mechanical printing processes was contemplated from the medium's inception; with the development of photo-gravure, Woodburytype, heliotype, and the process halftone plate, it became an accomplished ract. The later addition of silkscreen and, more recently, electronic reproduction methods, and the involvement since the 1920s of photographers in advertising and journalism, have made the reproduced photograph part of a vast network of utilitarian images taken for granted in urban industrial societies. It also should be recalled tliat printing photographs on materials other than sensitized paper was a common practice during the latter part of the 19th century, when camera images appeared on glass, porcelain, tile, leather, and fabric.

Since the 1960s, attitudes about printing have changed as photographers themselves have become involved in actually using mechanical and electronic processes rather than just allowing printing firms to effect such transformations. The interest in "process as medium," has led to images being printed on various unlikely materials and to procedures that are not intrinsic to photography. Today, print media are valued by creative photographers less as techniques to reproduce images than as means to produce unique objects that depend for their aesthetic interest primarily on the processes used. The new attitudes toward mechanical and electronic printing can also be viewed as an aspect of a new Pictorialism, in that the images are meant neither as utilitarian objects—that is, advertising or political posters—nor as windows into exterior or private realities, but primarily as unique aesthetic artifacts.

In some cases, the authors of these works also are making the point that valid camera expression need not be limited to the modernist canon of straight silver images. One example of this concept is Betty Hahn's work. This photographer translates a camera negative into a gumbichromate positive on muslin with embroidery added or uses cyanotype in conjunction with handwork to suggest that mechanically produced images can be aesthetically linked with age-old handcraft and, further, that photographers might look to the history of their own medium for viable artistic techniques beyond just silver printing.

The case with which established mechanical printing processes can be manipulated is seen in work by the many photographers who have explored etching, engraving, lithography, and silkscreen. The capacity of photoetelling to retain an aura of reality while avoiding verisimilitude has long been recognized by both photographers and graphic artists. Naomi Savage, who works with this technique, is interested in the changes in coloration obtainable from printing intaglio plates in ink; she also considers the metal plate on which the photograph has been etched to be a relief image with an aesthetic character of its own. Starting in the 1960s, Thomas Barrow, Scott Hyde, William Larsen, Joan Lyons, Bea Nettles, Robert Rausch-enberg, Todd Walker, and Andy Warhol, among numbers of other Americans, were involved with photolithography and silkscreen—processes well suited to reproducing straight photographs, collages, and montages on a variety of materials. The resulting image can be additionally manipulated to achieve unusual effects by folding, stitching, quilting, or shaping it into irregular three-dimensional forms.

Barrow and Nettles employ fairly direct methods of offset lithography and dichromate printing. Rauschenberg at times combines this process with photosilkscreen, adds pencil and brush marks, and laminates the results to handmade papers-—in effect, merging procedures traditionally associated with the fine and the mechanical arts. Using another approach, Benno Friedman and Scott Hyde have transformed their photographs through the application of mechanical printing techniques, which paradoxically result in one-of-a-kind images. By using lithographic processes and silkscreen, photographers also avoid the problems of instability that have bedeviled dye-color films and prints.

Images produced with electronic techniques—xerography, Kwikprinting, Verifaxing, and, eventually, computer-generated laser printing—have become possible with more modern replicative technologies. While the personal computer is the most easily used, all of these methods have been more available to photographers than offset lithography, in that they do not require access to printing plants or to the etching and lithography presses in artists' studios. Though no paint or ink obtruded on the surface, the dot pattern of the older electronic copy prints, whether in black and white or color, acted like the facture in painting, introducing an element that proclaimed the distance between reality and the image. More advanced electronic copying technology has eradicated this characteristic so that laser-duplicated prints can be indistinguishable from photographic silver prints.

BETTY HAHN. Road and Rainbow, 1971.
Gum bichromate on cotton with stitching.

NAOMI SAVAGE. Pressed Flower, 1969-80.
Photo/intaglio with pastel

THOMAS BARROW. Films, 1978.
Photolithographic print. Art Museum, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

BEA NETTLES. Tomato Fantasy,1976.
Kwikprint. Internarnational Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, X.Y.

Digital Imaging

Photography's ability to document events and to pro-mote the material goods of the industrial era has been expedited by the perfection of special electronic cameras, computers, scanners, and laser printers. By the end of the 1980s, digital imaging had emerged as a transformative technology, welcomed in the fields of product advertising, cinema, journalism, and the medical and physical sciences. Moreover, the computer has attracted artists who have recognized its worth as a storehouse of images; almost any image, whether photographic or hand-drawn, in black and white or in color, from virtually any public source, can be scanned, digitally combined and recombined with itself and others, and printed on papers or fabrics of various textures.

In advertising and filmmaking, digital techniques have meant that elements from different times and places can be put together and multiplied within a picture, that irrelevant parts can be removed, that almost infinite numbers of colors and shapes arc available and can be ordered and reordered. This restructuring of reality takes place with greater speed than the older methods of photographic special effects could ever make possible. Feeding the public's constant hunger for novelty, both advertising and cinema have promoted this improved method of achieving special effects and have encountered little negative reaction to it. The use of digital imagery in journalism, however, has been more problematic because viewers expect news images to be factual and unmanipulated. Of course, the idea that photographs of newsworthy events have ever been purely objective has been discredited by contemporary commentators, who have pointed out that since the camera image translates a three-dimensional real world into a two-dimensional arrangement of tonalities, its relationship to reality is inevitably subject to interpretation and distortion. Objectivity is undercut even more because photojournalists and editors have particular points of view that govern their production and use of camera images.

Digitizing is certainly not the first technique used to falsity- news photographs. Back in 1871, for example, a photograph purporting to show Communards killing Dominican priests was later found to have been faked. However, in the past, montaging and retouching were slow and expensive skills, whereas the current ways of confounding truth by digital manipulation are immeasurably more efficient and hence more tempting. Immediately after digital imaging became possible, reputable journals such as National Geographic discovered the ease of being able to reposition elements within a photograph; in a 1982 cover picture of the pyramids of Giza, one was moved closer to another simply to lit a vertical rather than a horizontal format. Fiddling with images can have more serious consequences, as attested by the outcry that greeted the digital darkening of black football celebrity and murder suspect O. J. Simpson on a 1994 Time magazine cover. Tabloid magazines routinely append heads to bodies not their own or add figures and objects to make their pictures more enticing. For those critics who believe that journalism is rarely truthful anyway, the digital altering of news images poses little increased threat, but others recognize that the fictions made possible through this technology will require ever more sophisticated scrutiny by viewers determined to distinguish falsehood from truth in the news.

Artist-photographers have found the expressive possibilities (as opposed to its commercial applications) of digital imaging appealing because it facilitates an array of manipulations. Montage, which has long been favored by camera artists, is accomplished more easily with a computer, which may have in its memory many choices of imagery and which affords great flexibility in dealing with tonality, color, and sharpness. In A Thousand Centuries, Esther Parada created a montage to present an alternative view of American history, using scanned and digitally produced images and inkjet printing. Consisting of large panels and site-specific installations, this and similar works by Parada combine portraits with other visual and written documents to challenge commonly held perceptions about historical events in the United States and abroad. Others who use computerized montage to comment on political and cultural matters include the British photographer Roshini Kcmpadoo and the Japanese-American photographer Osamu James Nakagawa. Kempadoo combines representations of foreign currency and everyday social life to deplore the role of foreign investors in underdeveloped regions. Nakagawa subverts one's view of ordinary rural or urban scenes by inserting into them temporally unrelated images of events or objects—a Ku Klux Klan meeting or the McDonald's logo, for example.

The synthetic reality created by special software pro-grams enables Suzanne Bloom and Ed Hill (collaborators who call themselves Manual) to address ecological issues. Their three-dimensional installations of large-scale, digitally produced works combine photographic images of nature with geometric forms suggestive of technology's intrusion into Eden. Others use the new techniques to make visible less-political agendas. The gestures and expressions of family members, as caught in old snapshots, are reassembled and placed in fabricated landscapes by Martina Lopez to create a dreamlike personal history. Nancy Burson (working at times with David Kramlieh) generates facial images of nonexistent individuals by scan-ning several photographic portraits and combining their individual features into one face. For some of her images she has merged portraits of children with craniofacial problems; in another, she combined a human face with the eyes of a doll in order to demonstrate that the unexpected connection of real and unreal can be whimsical in effect.

Whether pictures that are digitally produced by scanning camera images into a computer should actually be called photographs remains an open question. Digital methods arc conceptually closer to creating a painting or a work of graphic art than to the conventional idea of taking a photograph. In dealing with representations of visible reality, painters have traditionally reorganized the scene and restructured elements of color and design to accord with their individual sensibilities and tastes. They are free to transform the image as they work to resolve coloristic, expressive, and spatial problems. The photo-graph is a frozen entity once it has been captured on film; to change the image substantially requires the same kind of manipulations associated with the graphic arts. Even handmade collages and darkroom montages ultimately become fixed entities, whereas digitally generated imagery is constantly mutable. Digital colors and forms can be shifted without limit to form new configurations; even after being printed they still exist in the computer as manipulable electronic impulses rather than as a fixed image.

Because anything that is scannable can be used to produce digital images, because potential material can be found almost anywhere, because that material can consist of original or reproduced photographs or works of graphic art obtained (and potentially reused without permission) from image banks through on-line services, digital imaging prompts concern about plagiarism and copyright protection. These issues, as well as the unreliable truthful-ness of seemingly authentic photographic representations, remain to be resolved. Whether digital images printed by laser beam will prove to be permanent or in need of special conservation methods is another issue requiring investigation.

Only the passage of time will reveal which digital productions are of lasting value and which are ephemeral. Over the past one hundred or so years the camera-generated image has assumed unparalleled importance—showing us, for example, both the grandeur and degradation of our land and the demeanor of our elected representatives. Photographs have influenced our tastes in food, clothing, decor, and celebrities. Digital technology seems unlikely to entirely replace traditional photography in the immediate future, although it will take over many of its tasks as filmless cameras and computer technologies become less expensive. Individual artists may still be engaged by the particularity of camera vision and by the silver- or platinum-based end product (even though thie materials needed for these already have become more difficult to find). Despite dire prophesies, painting did not "die" when many of its functions were taken over by the camera after 1839. It did, however, change forms and shed some functions, and photography may now go through a similar transformation. Indeed, relieving the medium of its commercial and decorative applications may eventually prove to be a boon rather than a misfortune.

ESTHER PARADA. A Thousand Centuries, 1992.
Inkjet print from digital image generated on a Macintosh computer, panel three of a three-panel installation.

MARTINA LOPEZ. Revolutions in Time, I, 1994.
Cibachrome print. Schneider Gallery, Chicago.

NANCY BURSON. Untitled, 1988.
Digitally produced from a gelatin silver negative shot from the computer screen.

Painting and Photography

Soon after it was invented, photography helped artists by making factual information available; before long, it was transforming the way artists treated the organization of form and space. In the 19th century, photographs made in the street with short-focal-length lenses revealed real life to be casually cluttered rather than hieratically composed of discrete elements. When the rectangular frame of the photographic plate sliced through figures, structures, and events, with little respect for the tidiness of classical composition, artists became aware of new ways to depict the life around them. Employing strategies that gave their work a naturalistic vivacity, they represented scenes from unusual angles, included portions of figures cut off by the edge of the canvas or paper, or reproduced events as though the participants had been surprised in the midst of activity. They also depicted objects and figures with less attention to their three-dimensionality, at times flattening and compressing them into shallow pictorial space. Like the Japanese woodblock prints that arrived in Europe starting in the 1860s, photographs exerted a telling influence on Realist and Impressionist painters.

During the early part of the 20th century, this cordial if not readily acknowledged relationship between photography and painting continued and actually became more intimate in some respects. Although some artists still adamantly denied the aesthetic potential of photography, American painters as precise in style as Charles Sheeler and as tonalistically oriented as Edward Steichcn worked in both media with equal sensitivity; ironically, the former eventually elevated painting, and the latter, photography, to a favored position. In Europe during the 1910s and '20s, Dadaists, Futurists, and Constructivists went even further, transforming scientific photographs such as the stop-motion studies by Etienne Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge into images expressive of the tempo and energy of modern life. Some artists combined graphic and photographic material in the same works and called for an end to art terminology and concepts based on traditional divisions among media.

Photography and painting assumed more distinctive identities during the mid-century flowering of Regionalism, Social Realism, and, later, Abstract Expressionism, but in the 1960s, the cross-fertilization resumed. As the most ubiquitous emblem of mass culture, photographs were embraced by those intent on repudiating the elite character of Abstract Expressionism, and so they found an obvious place in Pop art. To cite only a few examples, Larry Rivers and Robert Rauschenberg—the latter a photographer of sensitivity as well as a painter—employed silkscreen techniques and incorporated snapshots and news photos along with an array of junk materials to suggest the gritty texture of contemporary urban life. James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol in the United States and Richard Hamilton in England were among those who mined (and mimed) billboard and other photographic advertising imagery—in particular, publicity posters for mass-entertainment celebrities. The mixing of media has been exemplified more recently by Doug and Mike Starn's assemblages, which encompass camera images, reproductions of art, musical scores, and written texts embedded in blocks or sheets of acrylic. Usually of considerable size, many of these works deal with mass-produced goods—wearable, edible, and cultural—which not only exist in great quantities but have had their images widely replicated in the popular media.

Camera images have also been regarded by painters as found objects, to be assembled as testaments to individual taste or to a sense of irony—contemporary analogs of Marcel Duchamp's "Readymades." Photographs have sup-plied John Baldessari (pi. no. 804) in the United States and Joseph Beuys in Germany with the means to investigate the meaning of art itself. The sometimes banal, sometimes bizarre conjunctions of objects and events in Baldessari's work attest to his interest in the photograph not as an aesthetic or descriptive object but as a means of exploring art as "the product of a process of selection."

Artists wishing to avoid the convention of representing a single point of view and a single moment in time also have turned to photography. David Hockney makes use of an array of small rectangular color prints, taken over a period of time and from different vantage points, to create a large work that repudiates the frozen moment characteristic of conventional paintings (and photographs). In Self-Portrait/Composite, Nine Parts, the disruptive joins of the color prints allow Chuck Close to avoid the illusionism characteristic of the photograph while still exploiting its ability to capture detailed facial expression. Rather than just using photographs to represent reality, these artists have employed them to transform their work into statements about the making of art.

Almost in tandem with Pop art, sharp-focus realism— sometimes called Photorealism—emerged as a distinctive style in American painting in the late 1960s. A sort of Precisionism revisited, it too derived its energizing ideas from the consumer goods and built environments so prominently featured in advertising. Photorealist painters, like their Precisionist forerunners in the 1920s (and in common with many photographers), usually are more interested in the abstract appearance of reality than in "realism" itself, finding the formal configurations of actuality "far more exciting than most abstract painting." The quest for the meticulous representation of the real world—in particular, the machine-made portion of reality—prompted this generation of painters to look to the camera for aid in translating three-dimensional space onto a flat surface. Indeed, many painters employed projection techniques that had been perfected earlier as methods for advertising illustration.

In Photorealist painting, the photograph is more than just a preparatory device or an aid to verisimilitude. Photographs help the painter objectify the subject, theoretically bypassing choice and subjective feelings and substituting a neutral facture for the artist's hand. These paintings mimic the visual appearance of photographs, portraying space in the specific manner of certain lens capabilities or from a vantage point peculiar to camera images. Synthesized at times from a number of camera images, as in the work of Richard Estes, such paintings paraphrase the high-gloss surface emulsions and dye-color properties of color photographs.

At the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, photographs also played a role in Conceptual art, which rose to prominence in the late 1960s, even though a connection between these least and most abstract visual forms seems curious. But, as Sol LeWitt noted, "Ideas [in art] ... are the chain in the development that may eventually find some form," and the photograph has become one of these forms. LeWitt's series of photographs of metal manhole covers and ventilator grids are emblems of the artist's desire to reveal underlying structures and systems rather than to create works with aesthetic, personal, or social con-tent. Photographs also play a role in productions that were meant to be created and then destroyed—Yves Klein's body art, Robert Smithson's earthworks, Christo's wrappings. Widiout the photographic records, these efforts would have no permanent form; indeed, one doubts that they would ever have been conceived if they could not have been photographed.

In sum, as difficult as it would be to imagine contemporary photography without taking into account developments in the graphic arts, it is even less possible to visualize contemporary art without its alter ego, the photograph. This affiliation is recognized in the marketplace by galleries that now handle photography, painting, and mixed-media creations as equals.

As the foregoing discussion has indicated, photography's potential has expanded radically in the past several decades. Besides the traditional two-dimensional, modest-sized photograph in shades of black and white—more often than not dealing with some facet of reality—the medium now embraces images in a variety of shapes, colors, and formats, variously intended to provide information, sell ideas or products, move people emotionally, make formal statements, and analyze political and cultural events. New technologies, new aesthetic theories, in concert with the enhanced role of the photograph as a marketable commodity, have influenced the way the medium is now being used and perceived. To show that the current expanded state of the medium is the result of a rich history in which photography flourished all the more for being so closely related to developments in technology, in the arts, and in the social sphere has been the purpose of this volume.


Offset lithograph. Museum of Modern Art, New York; John B. Turner Fund.

ANDY WARHOL. Red Elvis, 1962.
Acrylic and silkscreen on linen. Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich.

JOHN BALDESSARI. Chimpanzees and Man with Arms in Arc, 1984.
Two gelatin silver prints. Courtesy Sonnabend Gallery, New York.

DAVID HOCKNEY. Christopher Isherwood Talking to Bob Holman, Santa Monica, March 14,1983, 1983.
Collage of 98 Ektachrome prints. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Fla.

CHUCK CLOSE. Self-Poitrait/Composite, Nine Parts, 1979.
Polaroid photographs. Courtesy PaceWildenstein Gallery, New York.

RICHARD ESTES. Central Savings, 1975.
Oil on canvas. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. Courtesy Allan Stone Gallery, New York.


Into the 21st century: the digital age

The transformation of photography from an analog medium relying on chemically developed light-sensitive emulsions to one using digital technologies for image capture and storage began in the late 1980s with the introduction of the first consumer digital cameras and in 1990 the first version of Adobe Photoshop, a program for adjusting and manipulating digital image files. Conceived as an extension of the conventional darkroom, the program adopted many of the traditional tools of black-and-white film photography but let photographers go even further. By giving photographers the ability to easily change the structure of an image, and even its contents, it called into question long-held assumptions about photographic veracity or documentary “truth value.” To some minds, it changed the very nature of the medium.

Digital photography’s full impact was not felt until the first decade of the new century. Even as late as 2001, news events—most significantly, the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.—were photographed primarily with film cameras. But because digital images could be transmitted and edited much more quickly, by decade’s end nearly all newspapers and magazines had transitioned to a digital workflow process, and their photographers were using digital cameras designed for professionals.

The transgressive aspect of digital photography was apparent even before its widespread adoption, as in 1982 when the august National Geographic magazine published an altered image of the Egyptian pyramids. Because the magazine’s cover required a vertical image, editors used early computer software to push the pyramids closer together than they appeared in the original film photograph. The manipulation of visual fact for increased visual impact extends back before computers into the 19th century, notably during the Crimean War and American Civil War, but a spate of incidents of digital alteration of news photographs in the first decade of the 21st century created an uproar and led to the establishment of journalistic codes of ethics intended to regulate the alteration of digital images. Several photojournalists lost their jobs after their published pictures were found to have been digitally doctored.

Whereas photojournalists and documentarians reacted with caution to what came to be called digital imaging, other types of photographers were generally enthusiastic about its possibilities. Many artists using photography as their medium developed creative approaches that took advantage of the seamless mutability of digitally altered images, extending a long history of photographic collage, double printing, and other pre-digital forms of manipulation. Among the early adopters were Aziz + Cucher (Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher), Andreas Gursky, and Loretta Lux, all of whom stretched the limits of what is believable about a photographic image. Digital alteration also influenced the spheres of fashion and celebrity, as photographers such as Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (working together as Inez & Vinoodh) remade the looks of models and movie stars. Magazines began to regularly send their cover photographs to digital retouchers to eliminate blemishes and minimize their models’ waistlines.

Arguably the most-profound impact of digital photography has been the proliferation of picture taking and picture sharing. Since 2007, the year Apple introduced its first iPhone, so-called smartphones have become ubiquitous, as have picture-sharing applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that enable users to upload pictures from phone to Internet in a matter of seconds. One result has been an almost unfathomable archive of images of mundane events and everyday places, a virtual map of the world that finds its commercial equivalent in Google Earth, which incorporates both satellite views and Google Street View, an assemblage of ground-level pictures of human habitation.

At the same time, commercial, governmental, and military uses of photography have expanded to include 24-hour surveillance of public sites and businesses, the remote targeting of drone missile strikes, databases of digital fingerprints, portraits on identification cards, and the development of face-recognition software to aid in the identification of criminals and terrorists. Debates about the impact of the camera on civil liberties have intensified as a result.

Photographers have reacted to digital photography’s omnipresence in a variety of ways. Some—such as Chuck Close, Sally Mann, Deborah Luster, and Jerry Spagnoli—have journeyed back to photographic processes of the 19th century, making daguerreotypes or working with wet-collodion plates, or—like Chris McCaw and Alison Rossiter—have taken to printing on outdated enlarging paper from the mid-20th century. Photographic books, predicted to be made obsolete by readily viewable online images, have experienced a resurgent popularity, not only because digital printing has reduced the cost of publication but also because books allow photographers to control the narrative sequence and context in which their images are seen.

Others have seized an opportunity to critically reflect on the new image environment in which they live. Trevor Paglen, for example, has photographed the light trails of spy satellites as they cross the night sky. In addition, the convergence of still digital photographs and moving video images and the popularity of Web design tools that allow for animation, motion control, and audio editing have produced a creative arena in which photography is but one tool in the production of multimedia experiences. In the 21st century, photography has been absorbed into both the contemporary art world and that of online digital communication, blurring its formerly distinct identity but vastly enhancing its importance as a visual medium.

Andy Grundberg

Andreas Gursky
Andreas Gursky, (born January 15, 1955, Leipzig, East Germany), German photographer known for his monumental digitally manipulated photographs that examine consumer culture and the busyness of contemporary life. His unique compositional strategies result in dramatic images that walk the line between representation and abstraction.

Gursky, the son and grandson of commercial photographers, grew up in Düsseldorf, West Germany. During the late 1970s he studied photography in Essen at the Folkwang Academy (now part of the multicampus Folkwang University of the Arts). He then became a student of Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf (1981–87). There he started, like the majority of his peers, photographing in black and white with a handheld Leica camera, but he quickly went against trend and began working in colour with a larger 4 × 5-inch (10.2 × 12.7-cm) camera on a tripod. Despite his preference for working in colour, Gursky’s flat, dispassionate documentary style placed him squarely within the Düsseldorf school of photography, alongside Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer, and Thomas Struth, all of whom studied under the Bechers. Gursky’s subject matter during the 1980s ranged from office-building security guards behind their desks to vast panoramas in which small figures engage in leisure activities to landscapes of the Ruhr River valley. Ratingen Swimming Pool (1987) shows a lush green landscape dotted with tiny figures swimming and relaxing by the pool. The scene was photographed from a considerable distance at a slightly elevated perspective. Though shot far from the pool, the image captures every element of the scene with extreme clarity and focus. Gursky’s thoroughgoing attention to detail in every part of the composition is a style for which he became known and celebrated.

By the late 1980s Gursky was producing photographs so large that they could be printed only in a commercial lab; within a few years he was printing on the largest photo paper available, and still later he was combining the largest single sheets to make his images even larger. Gursky was the first to produce prints that measured as large as 6 × 8 feet (1.8 × 2.4 metres) or larger. An example of that scale is his Paris, Montparnasse (1993)—a panoramic image of a large high-density apartment building that stands 7 feet high × 13 feet wide (about 2.1 × 4 metres). The head-on, slightly elevated perspective captures the building, some sky, and some ground, offering the viewer an entry point into the scene. However, by not including the side edges of the building within the frame of the photograph, Gursky made the structure look infinitely wide, with thousands of inhabitants living in close quarters but—with no visible interaction and the endless repetition of walls between apartments—seemingly isolated and alienated from one another. Paris, Montparnasse is an example of Gursky’s use of formal compositional strategies to comment on and construct narratives related to the realities of contemporary urban life.

Paris, Montparnasse also exemplifies Gursky’s early attempts at digital manipulation, with which he began to experiment in 1992. His process involved shooting chromogenic prints (or “c-prints”) with film, using a large-format 5 × 7-inch (12.7 × 17.8-cm) camera; he scanned the images and digitally retouched and manipulated them on a computer. In Rhein II (1999)—which is 5 × 10 feet (about 1.5 × 3 metres)—Gursky created a nonexistent section of the Rhine River. By joining photographs of different segments of the river, Gursky invented an entirely new landscape, free of industry and human presence. Like a colour-field painting, the photograph is a composition of stunning colour and precise geometry. In 2011 Rhein II became the most expensive photograph sold at auction, going for more than $4.3 million. Perhaps his most-recognizable images are a group of aerial shots of whirling activity on the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade (1999). Those images burst with colour, movement, and a striking amount of detail that covers every inch of the massive photograph. With its repetition of gestures and spots of intense colour, the lack of a distinct focal point, and the implication of the scene going on infinitely outside the frame of the photograph, Gursky achieved the effect of an all-over painting—a composition with no single focal point and in which paint reaches to all edges of the canvas—as in works from the late 1940s and early 1950s by Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock. Gursky’s images of big concerts, such as Madonna I (2001) and Cocoon II (2008) are other examples of that effect. In order to achieve flatness and a compressed depth of field, Gursky sometimes employed helicopters or cranes that allowed him to shoot from above and thus to avoid a traditional one-point perspective.

Gursky also often manipulated colour in order to achieve a more organized or homogenous palette, such as in 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001), a dizzying diptych shot in a 99 Cents Only store. He manipulated the colour to create an explosion of repeating reds, yellows, and oranges dotted with blue, pink, white, and black. He also digitally inserted a reflection of the merchandise onto the ceiling, adding to the overwhelming visual effect and to the sensation of being surrounded by consumer culture gone mad.

In the mid-2000s Gursky often worked in Asia—chiefly in Japan, Thailand, North Korea, and China. His series Pyongyang, shot in 2007 in North Korea, documented the Arirang Festival—a sporadically held weeks-long annual event, named for a Korean folk song, that in 2007 involved 80,000 participants in highly choreographed gymnastic performances honouring the late founder of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung. Gursky photographed the festivities from an enormous distance, rendering the spectacle of tens of thousands of acrobats and performers a flat carpet of colour and frozen gestures.

In 2011 in Bangkok he created a series that captured the Chao Phraya River from above. His focus on reflection, currents, and the play of light and shadow on the flowing river resulted in images that look alternately like abstract paintings and satellite photographs. Gursky also returned to printing and exhibiting much smaller photographs as a way to experiment with perception and reception, as in the exhibition “Werke/Works 80–08” at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2009). Aside from wanting to be able to exhibit more works in less room, he had been exhibiting works on a monumental scale for nearly two decades and chose to introduce small prints again in order to understand the impact of scale on the viewer’s visual experience.

Gursky fundamentally redefined photography for a new generation of artists. His unabashed use of digital manipulation forced into debate a new version of the age-old question of truth in photography, a discussion that began as early as the 1860s when it became apparent that the truth-recording capabilities of the camera could be manipulated, thereby distorting reality and eroding the viewer’s trust. Gursky’s approach pushed critics and artists to consider whether the question of truth, with the prevalence of digital photography and digital processing, was even relevant to the discussion anymore.

Naomi Blumberg

Andreas Gursky. Chicago Board of Trade II, 1999, C-print mounted to plexiglass in artist's frame 73 x 95 inches.

Sally Mann
Sally Mann, neé Sally Munger (born May 1, 1951, Lexington, Virginia, U.S.), American photographer whose powerful images of childhood, sexuality, and death were often deemed controversial.

Mann was introduced to photography by her father, Robert Munger, a physician who photographed her nude as a girl. In 1969, as a teenager, she took up photography in Vermont at the Putney School and then spent two years at Bennington College, where she studied with photographer Norman Sieff and met and proposed to the man who became her husband, Larry Mann. After spending a year in Europe, she graduated (1974) summa cum laude from Hollins College (now Hollins University) in Roanoke, Virginia, and a year later she earned a master’s degree in writing.

In 1983, using her century-old 8 × 10-inch view camera, Mann started photographing 12-year-old girls. That series was showcased in her 1988 book, At Twelve. Another series, “Dream Sequence,” explored the psychology of relationships.

Mann first found herself mired in controversy after her series of black-and-white portraits, entitled “Immediate Family,” was unveiled in the spring of 1992 at Houk Friedman, a gallery in New York City. Those photographs created a stir because they focused on her three children, who often appeared nude and in postures, situations, and settings that some viewers found disturbing. Some questioned whether Mann had exploited her children, while others debated whether the images constituted a variety of child pornography. Still others lavishly praised the collection as an honest exploration of the complexities of childhood. In Damaged Child, one of Mann’s earliest portraits in the series (begun in 1984), her eldest daughter, Jessie, appears with a swollen eye and an expression seething with recrimination, a look some interpreted as belonging to a victim of child abuse. In truth, Jessie had been bitten by a gnat. Another Mann portrait shows her oldest child, Emmett, with melted Popsicle smearing his genitals. Yet another shot depicts her youngest daughter, Virginia, sleeping nude on a urine-stained mattress with her legs flung apart.

In the introduction to her book Immediate Family (1992), Mann wrote that “many of these pictures are intimate…but most are of ordinary things every mother has seen. I take pictures when they are bloodied or sick or naked or angry.” With these staged visual explorations, Mann captured some of the darker images of childhood and raised some thought-provoking issues. She was hailed for her painstaking technique, which involved mentally sketching each photograph and discarding dozens of shots before extensively labouring in the darkroom to achieve the desired effect. In the fall of 1993, “Sally Mann: Still Time,” a 60-print photographic retrospective covering 20 years of Mann’s work, opened at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

In the late 1990s, Mann turned her attention to landscape photography, and her work featured photographs from Georgia and Virginia. She also began photographing the progression of her husband’s muscular dystrophy, with which he was diagnosed in 1997. At the Houk Gallery in 2003 she exhibited “Last Measure,” a series of photographs of American Civil War battlefields. Four years later her “What Remains,” exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., focused on death and the decomposition of the human body. In 2015 Mann published Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs.

Filmmaker Steven Cantor directed two films about Mann’s life: Blood Ties: The Life and Work of Sally Mann (1994) was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary short, and What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann premiered on television in 2007.

Sally Mann. Untitled