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LP&E: Part 1, Page 2

Project 2 - Pictorialism

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Project 1, Thinking about landscape - Exc 1.1 - Exc 1.2 - Project 1.2 Pictorialism - Exc 1.3 - Project 1.3 The Beautiful and the Sublime - Exc 1.4 - Exc 1.5 - Exc 1.6 - Conclusion - Upsum - Eval

Adams - Alexander - Atget - Brandt - Daguerre - Emerson - Fox Talbot - Le Gray - Rejlander - Robinson - Sear - Seawright - Stieglitz - Steichen - Thomson - Weston - White -

Capon - Crimp - Galassi - Krauss - Grundberg - Meades - Miller - Morley - Papageorge - Vanderbilt - Wilson -

gaze - sublime -

Preamble - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Asg.1 - Asg.2 - Asg.3 - Asg.4 - Asg.5 - Asg.6 - I&P - C&N - EyV -

[ spellchecked 24Oct ]

Henry Peach Robinson
b: 1830 Ludlow
d: 1901 Tunbridge Wells
V&A - Wikipedia

[20Oct21 p.32] Painters and critics could dismiss photography as mechanical rather than creative and so some photographers sought to counter this by painterly effect on their negatives and subsequent prints. One of the leaders was Henry Peach Robinson and his Brotherhood of the Linked Ring. The vital point they conspicuously failed to grasp was, of course, that the ability to accurately and clearly represent objects is photography's USP (and the creativity is applied by means of arrangement, background and lighting).

GET A QUOTE - Bill Jay?
and see Coleman.

Another detour was the astonishing but ultimately purposeless multi-negative work of the painter Rejlander. Robinson used this technique too, quite effectively.

Robinson Rejlander Emerson Le Gray
Box A
1. Henry Peach Robinson, Fading Away, 1858 (from 5 negatives)
2. Oscar Rejlander, Two Ways of Life, 1857 (30+ negatives)
3. Peter Henry Emerson with T. F. Goodall,
Gathering Water-Lilies from Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads (London, 1886) c. 1885
4. Gustave Le Gray, The Great Wave Séte, 1857
© the artists, their agents or their estates
img: 1. V&A; 2.; 3. Met; 4. Beil, 2020, p.46.
Peter Henry Emerson
b: 1856 Cuba
d: 1936 Falmouth
Met - Wikipedia

Their efforts did have effect within photographic circles but no effect on the status of the medium in the wider art world. Other workers continued to explore and develop the true potential of the medium, such as Peter Henry Emerson's documentation of life on the Norfolk Broads. It is worth noting that even amongst straight photographers, because of the technical limitations of emulsions, it was generally regarded as acceptable to join separate (related) exposures of sky and ground in a single image. Wells (2011, pp.33, 306),

initially photographers had difficulty with the landscape, as it was not possible to expose for land and sky simultaneously (since the different light intensities required differing lengths of exposure)...
It only became possible to expose simultaneously for land and sky towards the turn of the century. Wells, 2011, pp.33, 306)
Gustave Le Gray
b: 1820 France
d: 1884 Cairo
Met - Wikipedia

Beil (2020, p.44) states that "combination printing, as it was called, was widely employed for landscapes throughout the nineteenth century" and mentions, in particular, the work of Gustave Le Gray, "celebrated internationally for his dramatic seascapes" (p.44), see fig. A4.

Exercise 1.3

[30Oct] Describe and contrast C18th and C19th landscape painting and modern landscape photography.

This is shown on a separate page.

Modernist Approaches

Definitions of Modernism and Post-Modernism were attempted recently in the Blog.

Clarence White
b: 1871 Ohio
d: 1925 Mexico City
Edward Steichen
b: 1879 Luxembourg
d: 1973 Connecticut
Site - Wikipedia

[21Oct p.35] In the US, pictorialism was taken up by the Photo-Secessionists, Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence White and Edward Steichen. Their work was impressionistic but Steiglitz, who edited Camera Work and ran the 291 Gallery, showing both photographs and other media began to move away from pictorialist excess

White Steichen Steichen Stieglitz Stieglitz
Box B
1. Clarence White, The Orchard, 1902
2. Edward Steichen, The Pond— Moonlight, 1904, multiple gum bichromate print
3. Edward Steichen, The Flatiron Building,1904,
4. Alfred Steiglitz, The Terminal, 1893
5. The Steerage, 1907
© the artists, their agents or their estates
img: 1.pixels; 2-3. Wikipedia; 4-5

The cmat [p.36] identifies Stieglitz's 1912 The Steerage as a key work, "a defining moment within the history of pictorialism", combining realism, recognisable characters, "an abstract collection of forms and tones" and "a sense of ... emotional response".

The cmat. goes on to nicely describe Stieglitz's shift,

[He] retained the pictorialists’ desire to render an emotional response within a photograph, but Stieglitz believed he had achieved this by embracing photography’s unique ability to reproduce optical clarity captured within a split-second. The term ‘straight photography’ was used to define this approach, and it marked a radical shift towards celebrating photography (within creative circles) for what it really was. LPE p. 37

[22Oct, p.38] We come to Edward Weston and Ansel Adams who carried on from Stieglitz. In the early 1930s they were part of the (short-lived) f/64 Group. The group (manifesto here) believed in small apertures for maximum depth of focus and exposing the perfect negative. It was all about detail. Although they did not manipulate negatives in the pseudo-artistic ways of the Pictorialists, they dodged and burned in the darkroom as necessary. I have a piece somewhere discussing how many "versions" there are of a particular Adams negative, all legitimate and all for good reasons - FIND IT.

We are referred to an article on Adams in Wells (2011, pp.136-140),

Wells describes Adams' growing interest in the Sierra mountains, starting with his visits as a teenager and his increasing involvement in conservation activities throughout his life. Adams set up a studio and lived in Yosemite. Wells states,

His subsequent acclaim as a photograpl1er is an example of the art institution adopting the work of particular individuals and thereby enhancing the influence of what is, in this context, often defined in modernist terms as their 'vision'. Wells, 2011, p. 137

She later notes,

Adams … explicitly acknowledged the influence of the New York photographer/curator, Alfred Stieglitz, who emphasised a notion of equivalence in photography. For Stieglitz, the photograph offers an equivalent to the feelings and responses experienced by the photographer on seeing something of significance. In other words, the subjectivity of the photographer as artist is clearly credited. For Adams, formalism was not a matter of objectivity· rather it was a complex event or engagement within which the photographer expresses something of that which has caught attention or preoccupied. Wells, 2011, p. 138

A final quote from Wells, "It might be added that his vision of landscape remains influential internationally, as a starting point for students and, more generally, as a continuing eulogisation of the sublime." (2011, pp. 138, 140). This is merely noted as the notion of the sublime comes up later in Part 1.

Adams concentrated on the rugged landscapes, particularly of Yosemite National Park. Weston, as described in the cmat (p.40) as "more experimental".

Moonrise, Adams Oakland Bay Bridge, Adams Adams Pepper, 1930 Radish, 1933 Nude, 1934 Dunes, 1936 Hot Coffee, 1937
Box C
Ansel Adams
1. Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941
2. Oakland Bay Bridge, n.d.
3. Late Evening, Monument Valley, Utah, c.1950
Edward Weston
4. Pepper, 1930
5. White Radish, 1933
6. Nude, 1934
7. Dunes, Oceano, 1936
8. Hot Coffee, Mojave Desert, 1937
© the artists, their agents or their estates
img: 1-3 Adams; 4-8 Weston

Adams' approach to photography was (having become an authority on the emulsions and equipment he used) to previsualise the image and maximise the tonal range of the exposure using the Zone System he developed with Fred Archer.

Wells wrote of Weston (2011, p.138)

of the imagery made by various f64 members … Edward Weston, in particular, has come up for discussion in terms of the sexualisation of objects photographed (McGrath, 1987 ). Wells, 2011, p. 138

McGrath, Roberta (1987). ‘Re-reading Edward Weston’, Ten/8 No. 27, reproduced in Liz Wells, ed. (2003). The Photography Reader . London: Routledge.

Weston described his method in The Flame of Recognition (1971), extracts from his diaries and letters,

My way of working –
I start with no preconceived idea – discovery excites me to focus - then rediscovery through the lens – final form of presentation seen on ground glass, the finished print pre-visioned complete in every detail of texture, movement, proportion, before exposure – the shutter’s release automatically and finally fixes my conception, allowing no after manipulation – the ultimate end, the print, is but a duplication of all that I saw and felt through my camera. Edward Weston, The Flame of Recognition (1971), p.41

I will be looking at an Edward "the thing itself" Weston piece for the Part 1 Voluntary Evaluation Exercise.


[23Oct] In the nineteenth century, two key strands in the medium were the naturalist photographers such as Peter Henry Emerson who pursued straight representational, documentary photography and the Pictorialists who sought to make photography more "artistic" through complex manual and chemical processes. The Pictorialists aim was to gain wider acceptance in the art world. In the US, Stieglitz, White and Steichen as Photo-Secessionists were leading Pictorialists. Stieglitz in particular began to move away from Pictorialist excess in C20th with his version of subjective realism and that's where Modernism began. Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and the F64 group continued to develop this approach with Adams being a straight landscapist and Weston "more experimental".

LP&E 1.2


References for Part 1 are shown on the first page.

Page created 20-Oct-2021 | Page updated 13-Sep-2022