TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  History of photography

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CONTENTS
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History of photography
 
 
     
Abbe James
ABBOTT BERENICE
ADAMS ANSEL
Allen Albert
ARBUS DIANE
ATGET EUGENE
AVEDON RICHARD
Bailey David
BEATO FELICE

Beaton Cecil
BELLOCQ E. J.
BING ILSE  
BLOSSFELDT KARL
BLUMENFELD ERWIN
BOURKE-WHITE
BRADY MATHEW
BRANDT BILL
BRASSAI
BRAVO MANUEL
CALLAHAN HARRY
CAMERON JULIA
CLERGUE LUCIEN
Cunningham Imogen
Carroll Lewis
     
DOISNEAU ROBERT
Drtikol Frantisek
Duhrkoop Rudolf
DUNCAN DOUGLAS
Eisenstaedt Alfred
EVANS WALKER
Feininger  Andreas
FRISSELL TONI
GENTHE ARNOLD
     
Halsman Philippe
HAUSMANN RAOUL
Heartfield John
HINE LEWIS
Horst P. Horst
KARSH YOUSUF
Kasebier Gertrude
KERTESZ ANDRE
Kirkland Douglas
KLEIN WILLIAM
KOUDELKA JOSEF
Lartigue Jacques Henri
Laughlin Clarence John

 

     
Maar Dora
Man Ray
McBEAN ANGUS
MEYER ADOLF

Miller Lee
MODOTTI TINA
MOHOLY-NAGY LAZLO
Munkacsi Martin
MURAY NICKOLAS
MUYBRIDGE EADWEARD
NADAR
NEWMAN ARNOLD

 

Outerbridge Paul
     
PARKS GORDON

 

REJLANDER OSCAR
RIIS JACOB
ROBINSON HENRY
Rodchenko Alexander
SANDER AUGUST
SHERMAN CINDY
Skoglund Sandy
Smith William Eugene
Smith Rodney
STEICHEN EDWARD
STIEGLITZ ALFRED
     
Tabard Maurice
TEIGE KAREL
UELSMANN JERRY VALLOU DE VILLENEUVE JULIEN
     
  Watson Albert
WEEGEE (ARTHUR FELLIG)
WESTON EDWARD
 
     
 
 
Pictorialism
 
 
PICTORIALISM AND THE LINKED RING

The ideas of Newton, Rejlander, Robinson, and Emerson—while seemingly varied—all pursued the same goal: to gain acceptance for photography as a legitimate art form. These efforts to gain acceptance were all encompassed within Pictorialism, a movement that had been afoot for some time and that crystallized in the 1890s and early 1900s, when it was promoted through a series of international exhibiting groups. In 1892 the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring was founded in Britain by Robinson, George Davison, a leader of the Art Nouveau movement, and others dissatisfied with the scientific bias of the London Photographic Society. The group held annual exhibitions, which they called salons. While the members’ work varied from naturalism to staged scenes to manipulated prints, by the turn of the century it was their united belief that “through the Salon the Linked Ring has clearly demonstrated that pictorial photography is able to stand alone and that it has a future entirely apart from that which is purely mechanical.” Similar Pictorialist groups formed in other countries. These included the Photo-Club of Paris, the Trifolium of Austria, and like associations in Germany and Italy. Unity of purpose enabled members to exchange ideas and images with those who had similar outlooks in other countries.

Beaumont Newhall
Helmut Erich Robert Gernsheim
Naomi Rosenblum

 
 
 
Pictorialism
Pictorialism, an approach to photography that emphasizes beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality.

The Pictorialist perspective was born in the late 1860s and held sway through the first decade of the 20th century. It approached the camera as a tool that, like the paintbrush and chisel, could be used to make an artistic statement. Thus photographs could have aesthetic value and be linked to the world of art expression.

The name itself derived from the thought of Henry Peach Robinson, British author of Pictorial Effect in Photography (1869). In his desire to separate photography as art from the scientific ends to which it had been applied, Robinson suggested appropriate subject matter and compositional devices, including the joining together of sections of different photographs to form a “composite” image. In the 1880s the British photographer Peter Henry Emerson also sought ways to promote personal expression in camera images. While critical of composite photographs, Emerson and his followers, looking to models provided by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, the painters of the Barbizon school, and the Impressionist painters, attempted to recreate atmospheric effects in nature through attention to focus and tonality.

Emerson’s book Naturalistic Photography (1889) was immensely influential in the last years of the 19th century. American and European photographers who followed its precepts organized associations and mounted exhibitions designed to show that the medium was capable of producing works of great beauty and expressiveness. Before 1900 the Linked Ring in Great Britain, the Photo Club of Paris, the Kleeblatt in Germany and Austria and, after the turn of the century, the Photo-Secession in the United States all promoted photography as fine art. Toward this end, some photographers condoned hand-work on the negative and employed special printing methods, using—among other chemicals—gum bichromate and gum bromoil. In addition to these procedures, which insured that each print was differentiated from others from the same negative, Pictorialist photographers also favoured the inclusion of monograms and the presentation of work in tasteful frames and mats. Frederick H. Evans, Robert Demachy, and Heinrich Kühn were among the notable Europeans who participated in the movement.

Pictorialists in the United States included Alvin Langdon Coburn, F. Holland Day, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, and Clarence H. White. In the late work of Stieglitz, and that of Paul Strand and Edward Weston, American Pictorialism became less involved with atmospheric effects and beautiful subject matter, but for some years after World War I, the older ideals of pictorial beauty were retained by the group called Pictorial Photographers of America. By the late 1920s, as the aesthetics of Modernism took hold, the term Pictorialism came to describe a tired convention.




"The Black Bowl", by George Seeley, circa 1907.
Published in Camera Work, No 20

 
 
 
 
 
Pictorialism


THE PROMOTION OF THE PHOTOGRAPH to the Status of an art object was the goal of a movement known as Pictorialism. Based on the belief that camera images might engage the feelings and senses, and nourished initially by the concept of Naturalism articulated by Peter Henry Emerson, Pictorialism flourished between 1889 and the onset of the first World War as a celebration of the artistic camera image. The aesthetic photographers who were its advocates held that photographs should be concerned with beauty rather than fact. They regarded the optical sharpness and exact replicative aspects of the medium as limitations inhibiting the expression of individuality and therefore accepted manipulation of the photographic print as an emblem of self-expression. Animated by the same concern with taste and feeling as other visual artists, Pictorialists maintained that artistic photographs should be regarded as equivalents of work in other media and treated accordingly by the artistic establishment. Many of the images made under the banner of Pictorialism now seem little more than misdirected imitations of graphic art, as uninspired as the dull documentary images to which they were a reaction, but a number have retained a refreshing vitality. More significantly, the ideas and assumptions that sparked the movement have continued to inspire photographers, even though as style Pictorialism became outmoded around 1912.

Why the growing interest in artistic camera images in the last decade of the 19th century? It followed from the simplification of processes and procedures discussed in Chapter 6, and reflected the divergent uses to which the medium was being put as industrialization and urbanization proceeded. The dramatic expansion in the number of photographers (owing to the introduction of dry film and hand cameras) permitted many individuals to regard the photograph simply as a visual record, but it encouraged others to approach the medium as a pastime with expressive potential. Simultaneous with the publication of photo-graphs of daily events, social conditions, and scientific phenomena in reading matter for the increasingly literate public, the wide dissemination of accurate reproductions of masterworks of visual art—also made possible by photographic and printing technologies—made the public more aware of visual culture in general. Furthermore, the emphasis on craft: and artistry in journals and societies devoted to amateur photography was specifically aimed at fostering an aesthetic attitude toward the medium on the part of photographers.

This multiform expansion in photography took place against a background of stylistic transition in all the arts. As a consequence of greater familiarity with the arts of the world through reproductions, art collections, and increased travel, artists were able to expand their horizons, confront new kinds of subject matter, and embrace new concepts and ideologies. Within the diversity of styles that emerged, an art of nuance, mystery, and evocation, an art "essentially concerned with personal vision" held a special attraction. Realism, the ascendant motif in the visual arts during much of photography's early existence, was challenged by Symbolists and Tonalists who proclaimed new goals for the arts. Less involved with the appearances of actuality, or with the scientific analysis of light that had engaged artists from Courbet to Monet, Symbolists maintained that while science might answer the demand for truthful information, art must respond to the need for entertainment and stimulation of the senses. However, in photography the situation was complicated by the fact that while some aesthetic photographers held truth and beauty to be antithetical aims, others viewed the medium as a means of combining the aims of art and science and imbuing them with personal feeling.

Pictorialism: Ideas and Practice

During the 1890s, serious amateurs as well as professionals deplored the "fatal facility" that made possible millions upon millions of camera images of little artistic merit. In seeking to distinguish their own work from this mass of utilitarian photographs, Pictorialists articulated a dual role for the medium in which images would provide an unnuanced record on the one hand, and, on the other, provoke thought and feeling. Aesthetic photographers were convinced that in the past "the mechanical nature" of photography had "asserted itself so far beyond the artistic, that the latter might... be described as latent," and they sought to redress this perceived imbalance by selecting subjects traditional to the graphic arts, by emphasizing individualistic treatment and by insisting on the artistic presentation of camera images. Photographs, they held, should be regarded as "pictures" in the same sense as images made entirely by hand; that is, they should be judged for their artistry and ability to evoke feeling rather than for their powers of description. In their insistence that photographs show the capacity to handle "composition, chiaroscuro, truth, harmony, sentiment and suggestion," Pictorialists hoped to countervail the still prevalent attitude among graphic artists and the public in general that the camera could not duplicate "the certain something . . . personal, human, emotional... in work done by the unaided union of brain, hand and eye." They hoped also to appeal to collectors of visual art for whom aesthetic quality and individuality were important considerations. Individuality of style was expressed through the unique print, considered by many at the time to be the hallmark of artistic photography. Using non-silver substances such as bichromated gelatin and carbon—materials originally perfected to assure permanence—photographers found that they were able to control tonalities, introduce highlights, and obscure or remove details that seemed too descriptive. Many of these effects were accomplished by using fingers, stumps, pencils, brushes, and etching tools to alter the forms in the soft gum, oil, and pigment substances before they hardened, or by printing on a variety of art papers, from heavily textured to relatively smooth Japanese tissues. In that no positive print emerged as an exact version of the negative, or an identical duplicate of itself, these manipulations and materials, in addition to serving the expressive needs of the photographer, also satisfied collectors who preferred rare or singular artifacts. Gum printing, which involves a combination of gum arabic, potassium bichromate, and colored pigment, became popular after 1897 when photographers Robert Demachy in France and Alfred Maskell in England together published Photo-Aquatint, or the Gum-Bichromate Process. In 1904 a method of printing in oil pigments evolved, resulting in a greater range of colors available to the photographer. These procedures could be used only if the print were the same size as the negative, but in 1907, the Bromoil process made it possible to work with enlargements as well as contact prints.

These procedures, sometimes called "ennobling processes" because they permitted the exploration of creative ideas by hand manipulation directly on the print, provoked a lively controversy among aesthetic photographers themselves as well as among critics. Excessive handwork produced photographs that at times were indistinguishable from lithographs, etchings, and drawings and led some Pictorialists to deplore the eradication of the unique qualities of the photograph; others cautioned discretion, observing that gum printing "is only safe in exceptionally competent hands," which regrettably were not numerous. During the early 1900s, the viewpoint that initially had held that the artistic quality' of the final work would justify whatever choice of printing materials and techniques had been made gave way, as prestigious figures in artistic photography joined with less sympathetic critics to decry murky, ill-defined photographs as "fuzzygraphics."

Pictorialist advocates of straight printing did not usually intervene directly in the chemical substances of the print, although on occasion they might dodge or hold back portions of the negative. In the main, they followed the course marked out by Emerson, finding in carbon- and platinum-coated paper (Platinotype) the luminous tonalities and long scale of values they believed were unique to the expressive character of the medium. Again like Emerson, many preferred to make multiple images by the hand-gravure process—a method of transferring the photograph to a copper plate that was etched, inked, and printed on fine paper on a flatbed press to produce a limited edition of nearly identical prints.

Pictorialism: Styles and Themes

In looking to painting for inspiration, late-19th-century aesthetic photographers were confronted by a confusing array of outmoded and emerging artistic ideologies and stylistic tendencies, from Barbizon naturalism to Impressionism, Tonalism, and Symbolism. Not surprisingly, many were attracted by motifs that already had been found acceptable by art critics and the public, among which the idealization of peasant life, first explored by Barbizon painters at mid-century, ranked high. This concept in the work of Emerson and Frank Sutcliffe is expressed with down-to-earth robustness, while other aesthetic photographers turned such scenes into embodiments of the picturesque and artful. In one example, Waiting for the Return—a photograph of the wives of fishermen waiting on the beach at Katwyck, Holland, for the boats to come in—Alfred Stieglitz selects a vantage point from which he can create an uncluttered arrangement; he controls the tonalities to suggest an atmospheric haze that softens the forms and at the same time endows the women with larger-than-life stature. The horizontal format, the flat tonalities of the figural groups, and the treatment of recessional space also suggest the influence of Japanese woodblock prints.

A theme that attracted both aesthetic photographers and painters was the pure natural landscape. In common with the Symbolist and Tonalist painters who viewed nature as the only force "undisturbed by the vicissitudes of man," aesthetic photographers in Europe and America regarded landscape with a sense of elegiac melancholy. Taking their cues from the Nocturnes of Whistler, the mystic reveries of the Swiss painter Arnold Boecklin, or the poetic impressions of the Americans George Inness and Henry Ward Ranger, they regarded suggestiveness as more evocative than fact, and preferred the crepuscular moment to sun-drenched daylight, the quiet, intimate pond to dramatic mountain wilderness. Instead of the crisply defined forms and strong contrasts of earlier topographical imagery, they offered the vague shapes and subdued tonalities visible in Woods Interior by Edward Steichen, a work obviously related in its organization, treatment, and mood to Ranger's scene, Bradbury's Mill Pond, No. 2.
 


ALFRED STIEGLITZ. Icy Night, 1893


EDWARD STEICHEN. Woods Interior, 1898.
Platinum print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933.

The female figure, both as a study in beauty and a symbol of motherhood was another subject of common interest to painters and aesthetic photographers. Softly focused portraits of elegantly attired enigmatic women— favored by Pictorialists everywhere—stressed stylishness and charm rather than individual strength of character. A related theme, women and children engaged in leisurely domestic activity or at play in home and garden, appealed to both men and women photographers, who produced idealized visions of intimate family life, transforming what formerly had been a prosaic genre subject into a comforting visual idyll of middle-class gentility. With its seemingly random arrangement, curvilinear forms, and delicate tonalities, The Picture Book by the renowned American portraitist Gertrude Kasebier isolates its two intertwined figures in a peaceable terrain untroubled by domestic or social friction.

Few motifs better illustrate the gulf that developed between aesthetic camera "pictures" and straight camera documents than the nude figure. Around the turn of the century, Pictorialists on both sides of the Atlantic approached the unclothed body with great diffidence, picking their way timidly through the "canons of good taste." Camera studies of the nude by artists, among them those made by Czechoslovak painter Alphonse Marie Mucha for various decorative commissions in his native land, France, and the United States, or the numerous studies of the undraped figure taken by Thomas Eakins (or his students) as study materials for paintings, or for anatomy classes as celebrations of the human form were not intended for exhibition or public delectation. Convinced that "ART alone"12 might sanction this troublesome yet attractive subject, photographers avoided ordinary or coarse-looking models and selected ideally proportioned females whose bodies, it was believed, would suggest beauty rather than sensuality. Combining classical poses in landscape settings, to which props suggestive of the "Antique" were sometimes added, with artistic lighting and handwork (at times, extensive) to obliterate telling details, aesthetic photographers hoped to prove that in photography "nude and lewd" need not necessarily be "synonymous terms."


GERTRUDE KASEBIER. The Picture Book, 1903.
Gravure print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

GERTRUDE KASEBIER

American portrait photographer Gertrude Käsebier (née Stanton) (1852 - 1934) was a part of the PhotoSecession movement along with Edward Steichen, Alvin Langdon Coburn and Clarence Hudson White and a founder of the Pictorial Photographers of America.
While studying painting in her late thirties, she shifted her interests to photography. With minimum professional training, she opened a studio in 1897, and used the proceeds to support her ill husband. She was a founding member of the Photo-Secession group along with Alfred Stieglitz, who printed several of her photographs in the first issue of his magazine Camera Work.
Using relaxed poses in natural light, emphasizing the play of light and dark, Kasebier let her subjects fill most of the frame. She was also noted for her printing process and ability to produce images with a painterly quality. She was the first woman to be in the Linked Ring and the founding member of the Pictorial Photographers of America. Motherhood is a central theme for her work.


CLARENCE WHITE. Nude, c. 1909.
Platinum print. Private collection.


CLARENCE WHITE

Clarence Hudson White (April 8, 1871 – July 7, 1925) was an American photographer and a founding member of the Photo-Secession movement. During his lifetime he was widely recognized as a master of the art form for his consummate sentimental, pictorial portraits and for his excellence as a teacher of photography. Toward the end of his career he founded the Clarence H. White School of Photography, which produced many of the best-known photographers of the Twentieth Century including Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, and Paul Outerbridge.

Other than those engaged in a commerce in erotic images, early photographers of the nude had been constrained by the realistic nature of the medium and by Victorian attitudes toward the unclothed human bodv to endow their images with allegorical dimension (when they did not direct them to the needs of graphic artists). Attitudes began to change shortly before the turn of the century, and as the nude in painting and graphic art emerged from a long history of masquerading as goddess or captive slave (or as in Edouard Manet's Olympia as prostitute), the female nude figure became a motif in and for itself in both painting and aesthetic photography. Some photographers still cast their nude figures as sprites and nymphs, but others no longer felt the need to obscure their attraction to the intrinsically graceful and sensuous forms of the unclothed female. Indeed, the very absence of allegory or narrative in this treatment served to emphasize the new role of the photograph as a strictly aesthetic artifact.

While Pictorialists everywhere photographed the nude, aesthetic photographers working in France and the United States most enthusiastically explored the expressive possibilities of this motif. Conventional academic poses and extensive manipulation of the print, typified by the works of French photographers Demachy and Rene LeBegue and the American Frank Eugene, rendered some photographs of the nude almost indistinguishable from etchings and lithographs, while a group portrait of nude youngsters by American Pictorialist Alice Boughton  exemplifies the less derivative arrangement and more direct treatment of light and form that also was possible.



ALICE BOUGHTON. Sand and Wild Roses, 1906.

FRANK EUGENE

(1865-1936) was born in New York but moved to Munich in his 20s where he studied art and soon became well-established as a portrait painter before he took up photography about 1885. He was elected to the Linked Ring in 1900 and was a founder of the Photo-Secession movement, undoubtedly because of his close personal and professional relationship to Alfred Steiglitz. A biography, The Dream of Beauty, was published in 1955. Eugene was known for his substantial manipulation of his negatives—so much so that the output was often a cross between a graphic work and a photographic print. In that he anticipated a number of contemporary artists and printmakers.



FRANK EUGENE. Male Nude (1897)

The great majority of aesthetic images of the nude were of adult females, the undraped male body being considered by nearly everyone as too flagrantly sexual for depiction in any visual art intended for viewers of mixed sexes. However, articles on nudity in photography (written largely by men), which had begun to appear in camera journals after 1890, suggested that young boys would make especially appropriate models because their bodies were less sensually provocative than those of women. Wilhelm von Gloeden and F. Holland Day were two significant figures of the period who chose to photograph not only adolescent boys but older males, too. Von Gloeden, a trained painter who preferred the mellow culture of the Mediterranean to that of his native Germany, worked in Taormina, Sicily, between 1898 and 1913, while Day, an early admirer of Svmbolist art and literature, was an "improper" Bostonian of means working in Massachusetts and Maine during the same period. Their images display a partiality to the trappings of classical antiquity, perhaps because they realized that to be artistically palatable the male nude—youthful or otherwise—needed a quasi-allegorical guise. However, although the head wreaths, draperies, and pottery that abound in Von Gloeden's works may have suggested elevated aesthetic aims, and the images were in fact proposed as "valuable for designers and others," his young Sicilians often seem unabashedly athletic and sexual to modern eyes. On the other hand, Day handled the poses and lighting of the nude male presented in the guise of pastoral figures with such discretion that a contemporary critic observed that "his nude studies are free of the look that makes most photographs of this sort merely indecent."

Some Pictorialist photographers embraced allegorical or literary themes, posing costumed figures amid props in the manner of the Pre-Raphaelites and Julia Margaret Cameron, with results that ranged from merely unsuccessful to what some consider ridiculous. Among the more controversial examples of this penchant for historical legend were reconstituted "sacred" images by Day, by the French Pictorialist Pierre Dubreuil, by Lejaren a Hiller (an American photographer who eventually turned this interest into a success in commercial advertising), and by Federico Maria Poppi, an Italian Pictorialist. The fact that Day's series of religious images were obviously staged, with die photographer himself posing for the Christ figure, prompted the critic Charles H. Caffin to call "such a divagation from good taste intolerably silly."

Possibly even more misguided because they lacked any originality, subtlety, or psychological nuance were camera images that aimed to emulate high art by appropriating actual compositions painted by Renaissance masters or Dutch genre painters. Guido Rey and Richard Polack, from Italy and the Netherlands respectively, pho-tographed costumed models arranged in settings in which props, decor, and lighting mimicked well-known paintings. In view of the absence of conviction or genuine emotion in all of these works, one could conclude that the orchestration necessary to re-create religious or historical events or painted scenes conflicts with the nature of pure photography. As one critic noted about Day's tableaux, "In looking at a photograph, you cannot forget that it is a representation of something that existed when it was taken."

A strong interest in light and color, which for some Pictorialists had found an outlet in pigment printing processes, prompted others to experiment with Lumiere Autochrome plates when this color material reached the market in 1907. In general, European Pictorialists who favored gum and oil pigment processes for working in color regarded Autochrome as too precise for artistic effects. An exception was the Austrian Heinrich Kuehn, who joined with the Americans Alvin Langdon Coburn, Frank Eugene, Steichen, and Stieglitz to investigate the range and possibilities of the material. Kuehn was highly successful in harmonizing the dyes—cool, airy blues and greens—to achieve a sense of spontaneous intimacy in views of family life , despite the long exposures required. Works in Autochrome by members of the American Photo-Secession (see below), several of which also pictured family members and their activities, are somewhat more static in organization and more mellow in color, reflecting the somber harmonies of some fin-de-siecle painting in Europe and the United States. The fact that Autochrome transparencies were difficult to exhibit and to reproduce may account for their relatively brief popularity among the leading Photo-Secessionists, but other (later) American Pictorialists, including Arnold Genthe and Laura Gilpin, continued to use the material into the 1920s.

 

Pictorialist Societies: Goals and Achievements

By the early 1890s, established photographic societies, set up in an era when objectives in photography were largely undifferentiated, no longer served the needs of all photographers. Unconcerned with, and indeed often contemptuous of, the commercial and scientific aspects of photography that the older societies accommodated, partisans of aesthetic photographs began to form groups whose sole aim was to promote camera art. The Secession movement led to the formation of the Wiener Kamera Klub in 1891, The Linked Ring in 1892, the Photo-Club de Paris in 1894, and the Photo-Secession in New York in 1902. In the same years, amateur photographic societies in Germany, Italy, the Hapsburg domains, Russia, and the smaller cities of the United States made available forums for the exchange of information about aesthetic concepts and processes, and provided exhibition space for the work of local Pictorialists and that of the better-known figures of the Secession movement.

Exhibiting aesthetic photographs in an appropriate context was a paramount goal of the movement. Besides sponsoring their own gallery spaces, the most famous of which was the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession in New York (known as "291"), photographers attempted to interest galleries, museums, and fine arts academies in displaying camera images either alone or in conjunction with examples of graphic art. They urged also that photographers be represented on the juries of selection for photo-graphic shows, since they alone would have the experience to separate imaginative and tasteful from uninspired works. Starting in 1893, and continuing into the 20th century, a number of prestigious institutions in Germany and the United States began to exhibit camera images, among them the Royal Academy in Berlin, the Hamburg Kunsthalle, and the Albright, Carnegie, and Corcoran galleries in the United States. Artistic photographs were exhibited at several of the large fine and decorative art exhibitions, including one sponsored by the Munich Secession in 1898. and the international shows at Glasgow in 1901 and in Turin in 1904. An exhibition devoted entirely to artistic photography held in 1891 under the auspices of the Club der Amateur-Photogmphien of Vienna became a model for annual exhibitions or Salons that were started in London and Hamburg in 1893, in Paris in 1894, and in Brussels. Vienna, and The Hague in the following years.

Art photography attracted articulate support in periodicals and books. Before 1890, photographic, literary, and general interest journals in Europe and the United States had devoted space to a discussion of the artistic merits of the medium, and while they continued to do so, after 1890 a literature whose sole purpose was to promote the movement flowered not only in the cosmopolitan centers of the west but in Russia, Italy, and Eastern Europe. Camera Work, launched in New York in 1905 by members of the Photo-Secession, and praised for the exceptional level of design and gravure reproduction it maintained throughout its 14 years of existence, was one of a number of periodicals that included Photogram, La Revue Photographique and Photographische Kunst in which similar aesthetic positions were as lucidly (if not as tastefully) embraced. Magazines with a popular readership also included articles on artistic photography. Between 1898 and 1918, for example, American art critic Sadakichi Hartmann, who was eulogized "as the first art critic who realized the possibility of photography being developed into a fine art," placed some 500 articles on artistic photography in a variety of American and European journals. Around 1900, Mill-length works conceived in the tradition of earlier tracts on photographic art by Emerson or Henry Peach Robinson formulated the theoretical arguments for aesthetic photography'. To cite but two, La Photographic estelle une art? by French critic Robert de la Sizeranne—a work exceptionally influential in Eastern Europe as well as in France—and Photography as a Fine Art, by the American critic Charles Caffin, attempted to convince the cultivated viewer that since the same expressive concerns animated all artists no matter what medium they used, the same criteria should be applied to images made by camera and by hand.

The Linked Ring—the first major organization to institutionalize the new aesthetic attitudes—was formed by a number of English amateurs whose disenchantment with The Photographic Society of London (renamed the Royal Photographic Society in 1894) prompted them to secede from that body in 1891 and 1892. This group, which included George Davison, Alfred Horsley Hinton (editor after 1893 of Amateur Photography), Maskell, Lydell Sawyer, and Henry Peach Robinson, modeled their organization on a contemporary art group—the New English Art Club—and encouraged members, accepted by invitation only, to pursue "the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable." Though Emerson himself was not a member, the Ring followed his precept that "a work of art ends with itself; there should be no ulterior motive beyond the giving of aesthetic pleasure. . . ." They established relationships with Pictorialist photographers in other countries, some of whom were honored with invitations to become "Links" and to submit work to the yearly exhibitions at the annual Salon of Pictorial Photography, known as the London Salon. British members seem to have been inspired primarily by landscape; their work is marked by the unusually somber moods visible in gum prints by Hinton or in Davison's The Onion Field (also called An Old Farmstead, pi. no. 366), made using a camera with a pinhole instead of a lens. Combining the rural subject matter of Naturalistic photography with an impressionistic treatment that makes all substances—fields, buildings, sky, and clouds—appear to be made of the same stuff, this work was exceptionally influential among photographers of the time. For example, it prompted Alexander Keighlcy, a photographer of somewhat derivative genre scenes, to turn to romantic soft-focus treatments of landscape. A similar use of atmospheric haze and broad shapes and tonalities in dealing with city themes can be seen in John Dudley Johnston's Liverpool—An Impression, a pensive view with subtle Whistler-like nuances achieved by consummate handling of the gum process.


ALFRED HORSLEY HINTON. Recessional, c. 1895.
Gravure print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath. England.



GEORGE DAVISON. The Onion Field, 1890.
Gravure print. Kodak Museum, Harrow, England.



ALEXANDER KEIGHLEY. Fantasy, 1913.
Carbon print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.



JOHN DUDLEY JOHNSTON. Liverpool—An Impression, 1906.
Gum bichromate print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath. England.

James Craig Annan, Frederick H. Evans, and Frank M. Sutcliffe represent members of the Ring who favored straight printing and chose to evoke poetic feelings through means other than the manipulation of printing materials. Annan, an accomplished gravure printer,' produced artistic effects by the subtle handling of light and shadow seen in the linear patterns in the water in Black Canal. Sutcliffe suggests the ethereal quality of fog-enshrouded places in View of the Harbor by his control of the relationship of foreground to background tonalities. In Kelmscott Manor: In the Attics, Evans, the Ring's most esteemed architectural photographer, summons up a serene sense of peacefulness and of humane order in the arrangement of architectonic elements and delicate tonalities.

The Photo-Club de Paris was organized in 1894 by Maurice Bucquct to provide an alternative to the professionally oriented Soriete Frangaise de Photographies in the same year it inaugurated an annual Salon. Members included Demachy, LeBegue, and E. J. Constant Puyo, all ardent enthusiasts of handwork. Up until 1914, when he gave up the medium, Demachy used his considerable means and leisure to promote artistic photography and its processes, collaborating, as has been noted, with Maskell in 1897 and with Puyo in 1906 on a manual of artistic processes in photography. In his own work, he favored nudes, bucolic landscapes, and dancers, and frequently printed in red, brown, and gray pigments using the gum process. The images of ballet dancers were considered "delightful" by his contemporaries, but when compared with paintings and drawings on this theme by Edgar Degas, they seem derivative and lacking in vitality, Puyo, a former commandant in the French army, at times favored impressionistic effects in landscape and genre scenes and at other times sharply defined Art Nouveau decorative patterns, especially in portraits of fashionable women. He designed and used special lenses to create these effects but also condoned extensive manipulation as a way of vanquishing what he called "automatism"—that is, the sense that the image was produced by a machine-without feeling. Other members included Leonard Misonne, a Belgian photographer of city and rural scenes, and Dubreuil, who portrayed pastoral landscapes around Lille in the manner of the French painter Constant Troyon, but later adopted modernist ideas.

The earliest international exhibition of Pictorialist works in German-speaking countries took place in Vienna in 1891 under the auspices of the Wiener Kamera Klub. It was seen by the Austrian Kuehn and the Germans Hugo Henneberg  and Hans Watzek; three years later these three emerged as the most prominent art photographers in eentral Europe, exhibiting together as the Trifolium or Kleeblatt. In Germany, the exhibitions held at Berlin, Hamburg, and especially Munich toward the end of the 19th century had made it clear that the camera was more than a practical tool and that the photograph might be a source of aesthetic pleasure as well as information.

Portraiture was one of the first motifs to be affected by the new sensibility, with inspiration coming from an exhibition of portraits by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson included in the Hamburg International Exhibition in 1899 and in an exhibition in Dresden in 1904. Portrait photographers began to realize that artistic discrimination in lighting, combined with attention to expressive contour, might create more evocative works than was possible with the unmodulated studio illumination that played evenly over conventionally posed sitters. This awareness prompted a new approach by the well-known portrait team of Rudolf Duhrkoop and his daughter Minya Diez-Duhrkoop in Hamburg and by Hugo Erfurth in Dresden. The strong tonal contrast and attention to contour in Erfurth's portrait of Professor Dorsch  continued to mark the persuasive portraits made by this photographer into the 1920s. Other portraitists of the time whose work reflected an interest in artistic lighting and treatment were Nicola Perscheid, working in Berlin and Leipzig, and the partners Arthur Benda and Dora Kallmus—better known as Madame D'Ora—who maintained a studio in Vienna from 1907 through 1925. Besides printing in silver and gum, all three were interested in a straight color printing process known as Pinatype, a forerunner of dye-transfer printing invented in France in 1903.


JAMES CRAIG ANNAN. A Black Canal (Probably Venice), 1894.
Gravure print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Sticglitz Collection.



FRANK MEADOW SUTCLIFFE. View of the Harbor, 1880s.
Carbon print. Photography Collection, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.



ROBERT DEMACHY. A Ballerina, 1900.
Gum bichromate print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection.


Robert Demachy

(1859-1937)

Demachy, a Frenchman, was a banker by profession, and an amateur artist, becoming a leading photographer in the 1890s. He was the founder of the Photo Club of Paris, a member of London's Linked Ring, and of the Photo-Secession.
An influential photographer of the time was Dr. P. Emerson, who fostered a more subjective approach to photography than hitherto. As a result, there was an emphasis on minimum detail and soft focus.
However, for some photographers this was as far as one should go; it was perfectly admissible to control one's photography at the camera stage, but one should not tamper with the photograph at the printing stage beyond employing very modest negative re-touching techniques.
his was not sufficient for other photographers, and Robert Demachy, together with other photographers such as George Davidson and Alfred Maskell began to experiment at the printing stage as well. A familiar phrase attributed to Demachy is "The end justifies the means", which sums up his approach to picture making.
His photographic work was quite diverse; he exhibited portraits, street scenes and figure studies, and wrote a a number of books and about a thousand articles on photography.

He is an interesting photographer to study because his work epitomises the controversy which existed in the world of photography at the turn of the century. Demachy had little time for the "straight print" photographers, especially if they presumed to call themselves artists. No straight print, he declared, with "its false values, its lack of accents, its equal delineation of things important and useless" could really be called art. "A straight print may be beautiful, and it may prove.. that its author is an artist; but it cannot be a work of art... A work of art must be a transcription, not a copy, of nature...This special quality.." (which makes it a work of art) "is given in the artist's way of expressing himself... If a man slavishly copies nature, no matter if it is with hand and pencil or through a photographic lens, he may be a supreme artist all the while, but that particular work of his cannot be called a work of art..."
However, perhaps to counter argument, he also made the observation that manipulation was not necessarily art: "Too many pictorialists will meddle with their prints in the fond belief that any alteration, however bungling, is the touchstone of art...."
In addition to deliberately using soft focus lenses to blur and soften the image, he also used printing processes which required manipulation. The final result was by no means pure photography, because the finished result in many of his pictures was achieved by using brushwork together with photography.
An example of this technique is his Figure Study from an Etched Negative, a gum print produced in 1906. One can readily see the long diagonal lines etched over the body greatly reducing photographic detail.
Among his favourite subjects was young ballet dancers, in a style very much reminiscent of Degas' work. He also made studies of people.
A powerful image is En Bretagne, which must be a composite from a number of negatives.



ROBERT DEMACHY. Vitesse (Speed), 1903


E. J. CONSTANT PUYO. Summer, 1903.
Green pigment ozotype. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection.




PIERRE DUBREUIL. Dusk on the Marsh in the Snow, 1898.
Silver bromide print. Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.




HUGO HENNEBERG. Italian Landscape and Villa, 1902.
Pigment gum print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933.




HANS WATZEK. Still Life, from the portfolio Gummidrucke, c. 1901.
Gravure print. Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.




RUDOLF DUHRKOOP AND MINYA DIEZ-DUHRKOOP. Alfred Kerr, 1904.
Oil pigment print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath. England


RUDOLF DUHRKOOP. Memorie


HUGO ERFURTH. Professor Dorsch, 1903.
Gum bichromate print. Staatliehe Landesbildstcllc, Hamburg;
Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.


HUGO ERFURTH. Portrait of boy,1906

Landscapes, still life, and tigural compositions, many of which were subject to extensive manipulation, absorbed both professional and amateur photographers in Germany. Large works in gum in strong colors, produced jointly by the Hamburg amateurs Oskar and Theodor Hofmeister, were exhibited at the London Salon and 291, and collected by Stieglitz, but other German Pietorialists were equally adept and turned out images similar in style and quality; The Reaper, a gum print in blue pigment by Perseheid, is typical of the genre. Heinrich Beck, a minor government official, was awarded a silver medal at the 1903 Hamburg exhibition of art photography; Georg Einbeek, a former painter, combined graphic and photographic techniques to create exhibition posters; and Gustav E. B. Trinks, an employee of an import-export company, exhibited silver bromide and gum prints at all the important Pictorialist exhibitions. Otto Scharf, in his time one of the most respected art photographers in Germany, was extravagantly praised for the brilliance with which he handled silver, platinum, and colored gum materials to evoke mood and feeling in scenes typified by Rhine Street, Krefeld, a green gum print of 1901.

Artistic photography made headway elsewhere in Europe, too, with individuals in Holland, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries drawing inspiration from Pictorialist activity in France and Germany. The work of Finnish photographers Konrad Inha (born Nystrom) and Wladimir Schohin suggests the range of artistic camera work outside the better-known cosmopolitan centers of Europe. Inha, a journalist, made romantic images of rural landscape and peasant life in the Naturalist mode, which he published in 1896 as Pictorial Finland, while Schohin, owner of a retail business in Helsinki, used carbon, gum, and bromoil processes, and experimented with Auto-chrome, in his depictions of the middle-class life of his milieu.

To the south, the city of Turin, Italy, played host to the International Exposition of Modern Decorative Art in 1903, thereby providing Italians with an opportunity to see a collection of American works selected by Stieglitz. A year later, La Fotqgrafica Artistica, an Italian review of international pictorial photography was founded, and a small sroup began to make artistic works in the medium. Their work ran a gamut from the previously mentioned reconstructed religious scenes to genre studies of provincial life to atmospheric landscapes. The Spanish amateur photographer Jose Ortiz Echague began to work in the Pictorialist style around 1906, continuing in this tradition until long after the style had become outmoded; his artfully posed and lighted genre images, reproduced in several publications on Spanish life that appeared during the 1930s, tend toward picturesqueness.

Despite the political instability and economic changes taking place in eastern Europe and the continued emphasis in many localities on ethnographic photographs to advance the cause of nationalism, a strong interest in photography as self-expression led to the formation of amateur Pictorialist societies in the major cities of an area that now includes Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Hungary, with the movement especially vital in Poland. The Club of Photographic Art Lovers and the journal Photographic Review, established in Lvov in 1891 and followed by similar groups in other Polish cities, provided an opportunity for the exhibition and reproduction of the works of important Pictorialists, including Demachy, Kuchn, and Steichen. The president of the Lvov group, Henryk Mikolasch observed that artistic photographs might "reflect thought, soul, and word," in place of "tasteless and pedantic... exactness," a concept that led him to idealize peasant life in his own images, which he printed in gum with much Pictorialist photography outside of London, Paris, and New York, artistic camera work in Poland was firmly tied to naturalism and the Barbizon tradition, to which the so-called ennobling processes added a sense of atmosphere; eventually these means were integrated into the modernist style that emerged in Poland in the 1920s.

Around 1900, the concept of art photography attracted a number of Russian photographers of landscape and genre, who heeded the call by Nikolai Petrov, later artistic director of the Pictorialist journal Vestnik Fotografi (Herald of Photography), to go beyond the unfeeling representation of nature. Employing gum and pigment processes, they, too, adopted a creative approach to subjects taken from Russian village life. This work, exemplified in photographs by Sergei Lobovikov that were exhibited in Dresden, Hamburg, and Paris as well as in Russia, also evolved from the concept of the nobility of peasant life, but with their subtle balance of art, documentation, and compassion they have a distinctive character that avoids sentimentality. In contrast, Alexis Mazourine, descendant of an esteemed Moscow family, sought inspiration in the more cosmopolitan centers of Hamburg and Vienna, where his platinum landscapes and figure compositions were as well known as in his own country. A group that emerged in Japan around 1904 devoted itself to art photography, producing lyrical, soft-focus scenes that often resemble popular paintings.
 



OSKAR AND THEODOR HOFMEISTER. The Haymaker, c. 1904.
Gum bichromate print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.




NICOLA PERSCHEID. The Reaper, 1901.
Gum bichromate print. Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.




NICOLA PERSCHEID. Untitled




HEINRICH BECK. Childhood Dreams, 1903.
Gum bichromate print. Museum fur Kunst mid Gewerbe, Hamburg.




OTTO SCHARF. Rhine Street, Krefeld, 1898.
Gum bichromate print. Museum rur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.




JOSE ORTIZ ECHAGUE. Young Singers, c. 1934.
Direct carbon print. San Diego Museum of Art; purchased by the Fine Arts Society, 1934.




SERGEI LOBOVIKOV. Peasant Scene, probably late 1890s.
Gelatin silver print. Sovfoto Magazine and VAAP, Moscow.




ALEXIS MAZOURINE. River Landscape with Rowboat.
Platinum print. Staatliche Landesbildstelle, Hamburg; Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbc, Hamburg.


 

Pictorialism in the United States

American photographs shown at the London Salon in 1899 were singled out for the "virtues" of "concentration, strength, massing of light and shade and breadth of effect"—qualities exemplified in Day's unusual portrait of a young black man entitled An Ethiopian Chief. Several factors made American work appear vigorous in European eyes. For one, the Pictorialist movement was exceptionally broad-based, with activities in small towns and major cities, and it attracted people from varied economic, social, and regional backgrounds. Unlike their European counterparts, who were mainly men of means or in the arts, Americans of both sexes, active in commercial photography, in the arts, in business, in the professions, and as housewives, joined photographic societies, giving the movement a varied and democratic cast.

Women, who were more active in all aspects of photography in the United States, were especially prominent in Pictorialism. Gertrude Kasebier, the most illustrious of the female portraitists, was praised for having done more for artistic portraiture than any other of her time—painter or photographer—by her discerning sense of "what to leave out." Many women, among them Boughton, Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Mary Devens, Emma Farnsworth, Clara Sipprell, Eva Watson-Schutze, and Mathilde Weil, specialized in portraiture and refined themes, exemplified by The Rose—a portrait in Pre-Raphaelite style by Watson-Schutze. The nude, sometimes conceived in allegorical terms, attracted Anne W. Brigman, Adelaide Hanscom, and Jane Reece; Brigman's 1905 work The Bubble is typical of the idyllic treatment accorded this subject by both men and women at a time when such camera images were just becoming accepted by sophisticated viewers. Women also were among the early professional photojournalists in the United States; Frances Benjamin Johnston, who exhibited at salons and joined the Photo-Secession, was a freelance magazine photographer of note. In 1900, she collected and took abroad 142 works by 28 women photographers for exhibition in France and Russia—further evidence that as a medium without a long tradition of male-dominated academies, photography offered female participants an opportunity for self-expression denied them in the traditional visual arts.

Another difference between Americans and Europeans involved attitudes toward the manipulation of prints that made photographs look like works of graphic art. Reflecting the considerable disagreement among American critics about the virtues of handwork on negatives and prints, photographers in the United States chose less frequently to work with processes that completely obscured the mechanical origin of camera images. Whether members of the Photo-Secession or not, they preferred platinum, carbon, and, less often, gum-bichromate, sometimes in combination with platinum, to bromoil and oil pigment materials. Even when availing themselves of the variety of colorations made possible with gum-bichromate, they favored, with several notable exceptions, direct printing without hand intervention on relatively smooth rather than heavily textured papers.

Traces of a wide variety of tendencies current in graphic art are to be seen in the work of American Pictorialists. Within the Photo-Secession and in some of the better-organized Pictorialist societies in the East, the dominant styles were derived from Tonalist and Symbolist paintings, but the influence of other movements in the arts, in particular that of the French Barbizon painters, is also visible. Toward 1900, the art of the Japanese became an especially potent influence, reaching both graphic artists and photographers in the United States in part through the writings of the eminent art teacher Arthur Wesley Dow, who translated its concepts into a system of flat tonal harmonies called notan. With its emphasis on subtle ungraduatcd tonalities, this manner of handling chiaroscuro, in concert with simplicity of composition and absence of deep spatial perspective, imparted a distinctively decorative aspect to many Pictorialist images.


F. HOLLAND DAY. An Ethiopian Chief, c. 1896.
Platinum print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933.


GERTRUDE KASEBIER. Robert Henri, c. 1907.
Silver print toned and coated to simulate gum print.
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; F. M. Hall Collection.



EVA WATSON-SCHUTZE. The Rose, 1903 or before.
Gum bichromate print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.
 



EVA WATSON-SCHUTZE. Nude woman on a rock, 1904

 


EVA WATSON-SCHUTZE. Mother and children looking at an album, 1904




ANNE W. BRIGMAN. The Bubble, 1905.
Gelatin silver print. Art Museum. nncnitv, Princeton, N.J.; gift of Mrs. Raymond C. Collins.

ANNE W. BRIGMAN

Anne W. Brigman (1869 - 1950) was an American photographer and one of the original members of the Photo-Secession movement in America. Her most famous images were taken between 1900 and 1920, and depict nude women in primordial, naturalistic contexts.
Brigman was born in Hawaii in 1869 and moved to California when she was sixteen. In 1894 she married a sea captain, Martin Brigman. She was trained as a painter but began taking photos around 1902. That year, Alfred Stieglitz noticed Brigman's work and invited her to join the Photo-Secession, an elite group of pictorialist American photographers who were dedicated to transforming photography into a higher form of art. Brigman was the only Fellow of the society west of the Mississippi River, and one of the few women. Her photos were printed in three issues of Stieglitz's journal, Camera Work.

In California, she became revered by West Coast photographers and her photography influenced many of her contemporaries. Here, she was also known as an actress in local plays, and as a poet performing both her own work and more popular pieces such as Enoch Arden. An admirer of the work of George Wharton James, she photographed him on at least one occasion. Brigman died in 1950 in California.
Brigman's photographs frequently focused on the female nude, dramatically situated in natural landscapes or trees. Many of her photos were taken in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in carefully selected locations and featuring elaborately staged poses. Brigman often featured herself as the subject of her images. After shooting the photographs, she would extensively touch up the negatives with paints, pencil, or superimposition.
Brigman's deliberately counter-cultural images suggested bohemianism and female liberation. Her work challenged the establishment's cultural norms and defied convention, instead embracing pagan antiquity. The raw emotional intensity and barbaric strength of her photos contrasted with the carefully calculated and composed images of Stieglitz and other modern photographers.



ANNE W. BRIGMAN. The Heart of the Storm , 1912

Several regional Pictorialist groups were primarily concerned with landscape imagery. Many members of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia—a venerable club organized in 1862 and the first to actively promote artistic photography—drew nourishment from the earlier tradition of landscape imagery supported by The Philadelphia Photographer, as well as from the Naturalistic concepts of Emerson. Individual members, among them Robert S. Redfield, Henry Troth, and Woodbridge endeavored to achieve "unity of style and harmony of effect" and to subordinate description to artistic purpose in subtly modulated landscapes printed on platinum. In New York State, another such group, the Buffalo Camera Club (organized 1888) also displayed a reverential attitude toward nature. Asserting the need for attention to "harmonious composition and well-managed lights and shadows,"31 their handling of light and atmosphere, exemplified in founding member Wilbur H. Porter-field's September Morning, 1906, projects a melancholy mood similar to that in the tonalist paintings of Inncss, Ranger, and Alexander Wyant.

 


LOUISE DESHONG WOODBRIDGE. Outlet On the Lake, 1885.
Platinum print, 1898. Janet Lehr, Inc., New York.




WILBUR H. PORTERFIELD. September Morning, 1906.
Gelatin silver print. Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo, N.Y.
 

Photographers in these groups and others working on their own in the same tradition often were not considered first-rate by the mentors of Pictorialism, in part because they tended to cling to outdated attitudes regarding theme and treatment. For instance, Leigh Richmond Miner, instructor of art at Virginia's Hampton Institute around the turn of the century, viewed the black farmers and fisher-men living on the islands off the coast of South Carolina with reverence and cast his many images of them in a heroic mold. Other photographers of Southern rural life among them Clarence B. Moore, a member of the Photo-graphic Society of Philadelphia, and Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr., a well-known New York Pictorialist, transformed rural people into ingratiating genre types, emphasizing industriousness and nobility of character through their choices of lighting and pose. Remnants of this approach lingered into the 1930s, as can be seen in portraits made by Prentice Hall Polk, official photographer at Tuskeegee Institute, and by New York portraitist Doris Ulmann, who idealized the inhabitants of the Appalachian highlands where she photographed in the late 1920s and '30s.

 


PRENTICE HALL POLK. The Boss, 1933.
Gelatin silver print




DORIS ULMANN. Untitled, c. 1925-34.
Gravure print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, III.
 

Similar picturesque qualities characterize many of the portraits made by Arnold Gcnthe of the inhabitants of San Francisco's Chinese quarter, except that a number of his images, though seen through the haze of a romanticizing vision, have a refreshing spontaneity that distinguishes them from more statically posed rural genre images. Genthe was a member of the California Camera Club, which was organized in 1890 in San Francisco and with 400 or so members, was for many years the primary enclave of art photography on the West Coast. Although members of the group, including Laura Adams Armer, Anne W. Brigman, William Dassonville, and Oscar Maurer, participated in Salon exhibitions on the East Coast and in Europe, and several became members of the Photo-Seces¬sion, no cohesive style of California photography emerged.

Instead, the flat massing of tonal areas, seen in Armer's Chinatown and in many other examples from this region, seems related to the pervasive interest in the arts of Japan that affected photography everywhere in the United States during the last decade of the 19th century. Idealization was the keynote of the extensive pictorial document of American Indian life undertaken in 1899 by Edward S. Curtis. While camera studies of Indian life were being made at the time by a number of photographers, Curtis (funded in part by the financier J. P. Morgan) may be considered with the Pictorialists because he selected for his portrayal of the "vanishing race" picturesque individuals—mainly women and elders—and on occasion even provided them with appealing costumes. He composed and cropped scenes carefully and printed on platinum paper or by gravure, eventually producing 20 volumes and a like number of portfolios of text and images entitled The North American Indian. The photographer's endeavor to conjure up a rhapsodical vision of American Indian experience, as well as to make an ethnographically correct document, is exemplified in The Vanishing Race. His work, which briefly found a market soon after the turn of the century, appealed to Americans who had begun to regard Native Americans as an "exotic spectacle" to be promoted as a tourist activity. However, until 1970, this portrayal had for nearly half a century remained unknown to the photographic community and the public alike.




LAURA ADAMS ARMER. Chinatown, c. 1908.
Gelatin silver print. California Historical Society Library, San Francisco.

DORIS ULMANN

Doris Ulmann (May 29, 1882-August 28, 1934) was an American photographer, best known for her portraits of the people of Appalachia made between 1928 and 1934.
Ulmann was a native of New York City, the daughter of Bernhard and Gertrude (Mass) Ulmann. Educated in public school--at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, a socially liberal organization that championed individual worth regardless of ethnic background or economic condition--and Columbia University, she intended to become a teacher of psychology. Her interest in photography was at first a hobby, but after 1918 she devoted herself to the art professionally. She was a member of the Pictorial Photographers of America. Ulmann documented the rural people of the South, particularly the mountain peoples of Appalachia and the Gullahs of the Sea Islands, with a profound respect for her sitters and an ethnographer's eye for culture. Ulmann was trained as a pictorialist and graduated from the Clarence H. White School of Modern Photography. Other students of the school who went on to become notable photographers include Margaret Bourke-White, Anne Brigman, Dorothea Lange, Paul Outerbridge, and Karl Struss. Her work was exhibited in various New York galleries, and published in Theatre Arts Monthly, Mentor, Scribner's Magazine, and Survey Graphic. Ulmann was married for a time to Dr. Charles H. Jaeger, a fellow Pictorialist photographer and an orthopedic surgeon on the staff of Columbia University Medical School and a likely connection for her 1920 Hoeber publication, The faculty of the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University in the City of New York: twenty-four portraits This was followed in 1922 by the publication of her Book of Portraits of the Medical Faculty of the Johns Hopkins University; the 1925 A Portrait Gallery of American Editors, and in 1933, Roll, Jordan Roll, the text by Julia Peterkin. The fine art edition of Roll, Jordan Roll is considered to be one of the most beautiful books ever produced.
In an interview with Dale Warren of Bookman, Doris Ulmann referred to her particular interest in portraits. "The faces of men and women in the street are probably as interesting as literary faces, but my particular human angle leads me to men and women who write. I am not interested exclusively in literary faces, because I have been more deeply moved by some of my mountaineers than by any literary person. A face that has the marks of having lived intensely, that expresses some phase of life, some dominant quality or intellectual power, constitutes for me an interesting face. For this reason the face of an older person, perhaps not beautiful in the strictest sense, is usually more appealing than the face of a younger person who has scarcely been touched by life."

Ulmann's early work includes a series of portraits of prominent intellectuals, artists and writers: William Butler Yeats, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Sinclair Lewis, Lewis Mumford, Joseph Wood Krutch, Martha Graham, Anna Pavlova, Paul Robeson, and Lillian Gish. In 1932 Ulmann began her most important series, assembling documentation of Appalachian folk arts and crafts for Allen Eaton's landmark 1937 book, Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. From 1927, Ulmann was assisted on her rural travels by John Jacob Niles, a musician and folklorist who collected ballads while Ulmann photographed. In failing health, she suffered a collapse in August of 1934 while working near Ashville, North Carolina and returned to New York. Doris Ulmann died August 28, 1934.

Upon Ulmann's death, a foundation she had established took custody of her images. Allen Eaton, John Jacob Niles, Olive Dame Campbell (of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina), Ulmann's brother-in-law Henry L. Necarsulmer, and Berea schoolteacher Helen Dingman were named trustees. Samuel H. Lifshey, a New York commercial photographer, developed the negatives Ulmann had exposed during her final trip, and then made proof prints from the vast archive of more than 10,000 glass plate negatives. (Lifshey also developed the 2,000 exposed negatives from Ulmann's last expedition, and produced the prints for Eaton's book.) The proof prints were mounted into albums, which were annotated by John Jacob Niles and Allen Eaton, chair of the foundation and another noted folklorist, to indicate names of the sitters and dates of capture.
The primary repository of Ulmann's work is at the University of Oregon Libraries' Special Collections. The Doris Ulmann collection, PH038, includes 2,739 silver gelatin glass plate negatives, 304 original matted prints, and 79 albums (containing over 10,000 Lifshey proof prints) assembled by the Doris Ulmann Foundation between 1934 and 1937. The silver gelatin glass plate negatives are the only known remaining Ulmann negatives. Of the 304 matted photographs, approximately half are platinum prints that were mounted and signed by Ulmann; the others are silver gelatin prints developed by Lifshey. Additional collections can be found at Berea College in Kentucky (primarily images taken in the vicinity of Berea) and the New York Historical Society (primarily of prominent New Yorkers). As art objects, her photographs are also part of many museum collections including the Smithsonian and the J. Paul Getty Museum. Doris Ulmann was an extremely private person and left no documentation other than her images.




DORIS ULMANN. Laborer's Hands, c. 1925


 

 
 
 

 
 
 
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