Re: color accuracy in gum bichromate

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 11/01/04-09:03:40 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Mon, 1 Nov 2004, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:

> Livick's print in Scopick's book was the first gum print I ever saw that
> looked accurate instead of interpretive. I remember being blown away. I
> couldn't believe anyone could get that kind of color with gum. I was only
> doing BW negs and using a neg over and over again to approximate color at
> that time.

The question was asked somewhere in here what Livick's prints looked like
in reality, had anyone ever seen one? My experience is that they look
dramatically different than in small repro. Before he discovered what a
bad person I am, Livick and I e-mailed , and he sent me some cut pieces of
his gums from a large mural-- from a study for work shown in one of his
catalogs. Close up in the hand, it looked nothing like the polished
realistic (although surrealistically configured) images of that period --
rather coarse and crude in fact, on a heavily (and rather unattractively)
textured surface, quite sparsely colored.

He also described his process -- both in his "manual" and in his e-mails,
tho I'd also heard it previously -- he works in a totally temperature and
humidity controlled studio (someone said 5 air conditioners and
humidifiers) to keep rH absolutely constant, meaning his registration --
and other conditions -- were totally controlled.

I put "manual" in quotes above, because, as I've said on this list before,
it had a remarkable lack of information, such as failing to state the
precise colors he used, let alone the mix. Not to mention a couple of
false statements (eg about am di being NG because it stains). That is,
description of the business end of the process was vague to non-existent
-- except specifying *development* down to the second ! Though he did say
he applied the di/bichromate with an airbrush.

As I recall that "manual" (around here somewhere), it was 46 pages with
wide margins, big type and double spacing, also 4 of the 46 pages were
entirely blank for "NOTES" !

None of which is to say the gums weren't amazing -- at least for those
early days when our image of gum was monochrome and soft, say Steichen or
Kuehn (both of them of course sublime).

But I recently noticed an early Livick (or maybe it was two?) in Keepers
of Light. I thought it/they were terrific -- quite different from the
later c-print-looking stuff-- really strong, both conceptually and

Received on Mon Nov 1 21:03:54 2004

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