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Thursday, 12 July 2012


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Your comment, "our current preoccupation with resolution and color accuracy is rather stifling" made me smile. Kuehn would have enjoyed the instagram app on a iPhone. Both Kuehn and Gustav Klimt would have enjoyed digital metallic printing.

The Neue Galerie is one of my new favorites when visiting NYC. It is small enough to not overwhelm the visiter whereas one always leaves the Met thinking one should have spent the entire trip going through all the rooms.
I feel the cafe in the Neue Galerie is an instant flight to Austria, filled with patrons who seem completely at home. Most readers would enjoy it. http://www.neuegalerie.org/cafes/sabarsky

I've been there to the Neue, had some coffee and torte and then took a self portrait of myself sitting on the toilet in the basement bathroom.

Maybe you could feature it on Random Excellence? It's my wifes fav picture of me.

Great review. I'd like to see this show.



"Before this exhibit, I was mostly familiar with Pictorialism through books. The Pictorialist aesthetic fell into disrepute with the rise of Modernism, but there are some undeniably beautiful pictures in this exhibition."

I too was mostly familiar with Pictorialism through books. I was lucky enough a couple of years ago to be able to take in a minor traveling exhibit at the Portland, ME museum called Debating Modern Photography: The Triumph of Group f/64. It opened the day we were driving to Boston to leave New England - and we were heading through Portland!

The point of the exhibit was to display a group of pictorialist prints juxtaposed with a group of Group f/64 prints, mostly taken during about the same time frame, as the sea change in styles was occurring. A few photographers were represented in both styles.

Very little well known work. There was a print of Weston's Nautilus Shell in the Pictorialist section, which I found a little disappointing. Not much to see that I haven't already seen in good reproductions. A few others were from good to excellent, to my eye.

In the f/64 group, most of the major players were represented by minor works (in that I was not familiar with them, at least).

Overall, I felt that the f/64 prints were less surprising than the Pictorialists. Clearly, good book reproductions that are reasonably representative of the originals seem to be easier with those kind of prints.

The vagaries of paper and image color, surface textures, size, and so on of the Pictorialist prints have been less well shown in the books I've seen.

Overall, I can't say one style struck me as "best". I have, or at least have had, a personal bias toward sharpness, tonal control, etc., the hallmarks of f/64. But I enjoyed the best of the Pictorialist prints more than the majority of the others.

Unfortunately, there was no printed catalog with images and photography wasn't allowed in that exhibit. When I'm Image Czar, the law will be that they must have one or allow the other. \;~)>


Mr Camp: Thanks so much for a well-written and highly informative article. You have inspired me -- photographically, and by your honest, straightforward writing style. Bravo!

"Your comment, 'our current preoccupation with resolution and color accuracy is rather stifling' made me smile." I had the same reaction.

Nice building! We've got one right here in Perth, Western Australia just like it - at least we did last time I looked about 4 years ago. They've probably demolished it by now, as "they" have demolished just about anything that smacks of "old" in this city.

No, really, our building is very, very similar and I'm inspired now to go back into town and photograph it from a similar angle. Document it. Before it's gone. I do know it's empty and has been for years while "they" haggle about how to gut it and make it into some luxury hotel office hybrid. Better be quick!

Perth, by the way, dates from 1829. We're an historic city, not a newcomer. We used to have magnificent old sandstone buildings but they're nearly all gone.

I might be in a minority, and probably logically, morally and philosophically I am on thin ice, but to me this photographer's political affiliations make a difference to how I perceive his work and, were I even able to, I would think twice about going to any exhibition of his. It isn't necessarily a rational response, more an emotional one.

Nice small review. Though my exposure to this work is brief, from what I see, the photographer has a decided painterly style. I like the compositions. And I would say that is what he was trying to accomplish.

Thank you for the heads-up, John. The MFA Houston had a Kühn show last year but I didn't think it traveled. Still, perhaps some of the same loans?

We have 10 Kuhns on the collection at the AIC, although I only recall seeing three in person. I'd like to see this show, and the Neue Galerie (which I've not yet visited), but may not get to NY by the close.

It's hard to predict how Stieglitz's merry band would react to today's digital world but it's fun to try. I think Stieglitz himself would be depressed by it. He would probably shun anything "digital" and, if he'd touch a computer at all, he might end up one of the crabby old guys grumping about on an "analog photography" forum with other like minds.

Kühn, on the other hand, would probably be bankrupted by trying every possible capture, compositing, post-processing, and printing technique he could get his hands on, succeeding with most of them. He'd likely become very successful in the art world and have many collectors investing in his works with eyes toward posthumous run-ups.

But I think that most of the Pictorialists would largely eschew showing much of their work on the Internet. After all, a computer screen has no relationship to the thing-ness of a piece of art, something that they all craved to produce.

Thanks for an enjoyable review of an, as you point out, often neglected style of photographic history. For anyone interested in learning more about the so-called "alternative processes", I highly recommend tracking down a secondhand copy of "Hand Colouring and Alternative Darkroom Processes" by Andrew Sanderson. I have no intention of getting my hands messy with their actual use, but I find the results fascinating.

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