Re: Comments on Pictorialism

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;>
Date: 02/08/04-02:10:38 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Sat, 7 Feb 2004, Sandy King wrote:
> ...The presentation of the
> picturesque is the first and foremost
> characteristic of Pictorialism......

> 5) the use of alternative printing processes:
> carbon and carbro, gum bichromate, oil and
> bromoil, direct carbon, and platinum.

Sandy leaves room for interpretation here... that #5 could be "an interest
in " alternative printing processes... But there is still a mythic faux
pictorialism created, even as I write, by today's 'revival." There was an
"interest in" these processes, but MOST PHOTOGRAPHS were on factory paper.

For instance, who was "Mr Pictorialism" ? Apparently by acclamation, Paul
Anderson. (Demachy was too early, he was a pioneer, perhaps *the* pioneer,
but not in our how-to lit to this very day as Anderson is.) Anderson
wrote 2 books on Pictorialism and at least a dozen magazine articles (plus
as I may have mentioned infecting the canon.) Yet his archive in
possession of Center for Creative Photography has (this from memory, tho I
have it in print) something like 460 prints, of which all but about 60 are
on factory paper.

Another book at hand,"Photographic Control Processes"1937, by Franklin
Jordan, originally had 26 illustrations... only 18 remained when I
acquired the book, but of these, 10 are on factory paper, only 8 in
"alternative" processes -- although the bulk of the book is about those

In other words, the myths come with the revival... after the original is
dead, dead dead... and can be revived as you wish. I see that here in my
neighborhood... One writer says Maya Deren lived at #46, another that she
lived at #35. That she lived at # 61 is of course trivial, but it happens
to be something I know, now cancelled by newspaper accounts (Village
Voice, & local weekly, among others) of her addresses. Many of the other
"facts" in this myth I don't know. But I assume (and judging by those I
do know) that, being even more subject to interpretation, they are further
off the mark.

Another I saw this week in the forming.. a fellow who had a restaurant on
the end of my block had a movie made about it which played at Sundance
this year. Local newsletter quotes Elvis Mitchell in the Times saying the
space was formerly a dry goods store. It was in fact a grocery, and
retained the sign for years (Decay chic)... again a trivial point, but
again concrete. Here I know plenty of the mythologizing, since it
happened among my neighbors, but again, the concrete point is ....

Which leads me to the point that I've read a GREAT DEAL of the original
"pictorialist" literature, both in the popular magazines, and heavier lit
of the times (especially Linked Ring and Stieglitz). I'd suggest going
back to the essays cited in Bunnell's book for a more realistic take on
what they had in mind... BUT, interestingly, Bunnell missed a really
REALLY BAD one, being apparently oblivious of the meaning of words he
cited. But I'm telling that in upcoming P-F -- and, as whatsisname would
say... hehhehehehehe...

Received on Sun Feb 8 14:11:10 2004

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