CYANOTYPES: PHOTOGRAPHY’S BLUE PERIOD Nancy Kathryn Burns Kristina Wilson
CYANOTYPES: PHOTOGRAPHY’S BLUE PERIOD WORCESTE R ART MUSEUM / worcesterart.org
CYANOTYPES: PHOTOGRAPHYâ€™S BLUE PERIOD Edited by Nancy Kathryn Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Kristina Wilson, Associate Professor of Art History, Clark University WorCEstEr Art MUsEUM Worcester, MA / worcesterart.org
Published on the occasion of the exhibition
CyANotyPEs: PHotogrAPHy’s BlUE PErioD January 16, 2016 through April 24, 2016
this exhibition and publication are generously supported by Higgins school of Humanities and Dean of the College, Clark University, and skinner Auctioneers. © 2016 Worcester Art Museum 55 salisbury street / Worcester, Massachusetts 01609 / worcesterart.org All rights reserved. No part of the contents of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All works © Worcester Art Museum unless otherwise noted. Photography by stephen Briggs Design by Kim Noonan Printed by Puritan Capital Font: scalasans ot isBN 978-0-936042-06-0
outside cover: Meghann Riepenhoff, American, born 1979, Littoral Drift #3 (Rodeo Beach, CA) (detail), 2013, Worcester Art Museum, Funded by the Douglas Cox and Edward Osowski Fund for Photography in memory of Robert A. Royka (1933–1996) and Margaret Kent Royka, 2015.44 inside front cover: William H. Cades, American, 1820–after 1892, Two Men Fishing from Rocks at Seaside Resort (detail), 1890s, Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.70 inside back cover: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922, “Little Venice,” Ipswich (detail). about 1900, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents, Frank and Anne Wigglesworth, in memory of their love for Ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.33
tA B l E o F C o N t E N t s
Davis Baird and Matthias Waschek, Foreword
Nancy Kathryn Burns and Kristina Wilson, Introduction
Nancy Kathryn Burns, The Fraudulent Enlistment of the Cyanotype
Kristina Wilson, True Blue: Cyanotypes, the Index, and Truthfulness
Eliza Spaulding, On the Conservation of Cyanotypes
Gabrielle Belisle ’17, Anna Atkins: The Art of Science
Abby Moon ’17, The Expressive Potential of Bosse’s Landscapes
Rachel Polinsky ’16, Frederick Coulson: Art or Evidence
Hannah Millen ’16, East Meets West: Dow and Japan
Mary Iorio ’17, Lace: An Imprint of the Past
Hannah Jaffe ’16, Day’s Reflections on the Harbor
Grant Henry ’17, Proofing Curtis’s Proofs
Nancy Kathryn Burns, Philip Klausmeyer, Eliza Spaulding, Unraveling Steichen’s Jean Simpson in Profile
Casey Shea ’16, Art After Death
Mehran Mehrdad Ali ’16, Kasten’s Abstract Documentation
Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer ’17, Silent Hourglass: Nostalgia in Marclay’s Cyanotypes
Alexandra Gray ’17, Annie Lopez: Cyanotypes Conveying Personal Narrative
Nancy Kathryn Burns and Kristina Wilson, Acknowledgments
ForEWorD Clark University and Worcester Art Museum have joined forces to present the first major survey of an oftentimes overlooked photographic process: the cyanotype. These beautiful blue photographs remained a lost treasure within the museum’s holdings until Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period provided the opportunity to showcase the institution’s extensive—and growing— collection of this material. Enhanced by over two dozen loans from venerable museums, collectors, galleries, and artists nationwide, this exhibition meaningfully traces the rise, fall, and recent resurgence of this vintage process. An integral part of Worcester Art Museum’s ambition is to grow its connection with Worcester’s many universities and colleges. Likewise, Clark University has a deep ongoing commitment to the Worcester community. When Clark’s associate professor of art history Kristina Wilson and WAM’s assistant curator of prints, drawings and photographs, Nancy Kathryn Burns, proposed a collaborative project integrating the resources of Worcester Art Museum with the students and faculty at Clark University, it offered an innovative and unique opportunity to bring together the talents of both institutions. Kristina and Nancy have worked together over the past fifteen months to research and develop the exhibition. In addition, they supervised an undergraduate student during the summer of 2015 as one of Clark’s signature Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) fellows. Finally, students in Kristina’s seminar during the fall of 2015 pursued the research you see collected in this publication. This project embodies Clark’s commitment to the vital role of a liberal arts education in settings outside the academy. Needless to say, the seminar, the exhibition, and this catalogue have been profoundly exciting and rewarding opportunities for the students. We are proud of this institutional collaboration, which brings strength to strength and is generated out of a shared investment in the Worcester community. We would also like to thank Skinner Auctioneers for their sponsorship. This exhibition required hard work not only from the eleven seminar students at Clark but also from many staff members at Worcester Art Museum, all of whom had a hand in the success of this pioneering project. Special thanks go to Kristina and Nancy for spearheading this effort, to the catalogue and exhibition design work provided by Kim Noonan and Patrick Brown, and to the thoughtful insight offered by WAM’s director of curatorial affairs, Jon Seydl. Davis Baird Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Clark University Matthias Waschek C. Jean and Myles McDonough Director Worcester Art Museum
iNtroDUCtioN Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period is the first major museum exhibition in the United States to examine the 150-year history of this distinctive, blue-tinted photographic process. It not only resurrects the history of a largely overlooked process, but it also establishes a chronology of key figures and highlights some of the expressive qualities of these insistently blue works. The cyanotype process was invented by the British scientist Sir John Herschel in 1842. Botanist Anna Atkins learned about the process almost immediately and explored its documentary and expressive potential over the next several decades in a series of photograms of British algae and British and American ferns. From the 1870s through World War I, cyanotypes became popular among amateur photographers because of the speed and ease with which the process could be used to create a photographic image. To create a cyanotype, one simply had to procure a readily available iron-salt solution and brush it onto absorbent paper; once the paper had dried, the paper was ready to be exposed to sunlight. Many photographers placed a photographic negative on the treated paper, which, after exposure in the sun and a rinsing bath in water, would result in a positive photographic print—albeit one where everything is tinted blue. Cyanotypes did not require a darkroom and were frequently made by those new to photography. As one critic noted in 1900, the cyanotype process was easy to master and yet taught new photographers important techniques such as “photographic carefulness, photographic cleanliness, and photographic thoroughness.”1 One format commonly used was the “real photo” postcard. Many fine-art photographers used the cyanotype process to proof prints, but they considered it unacceptable for finished prints; Edward Sheriff Curtis’s work in this volume is an example of a cyanotype created as a proof. However, other artists were clearly captivated by the possibilities of printing entirely in blue. Fred Holland Day, Arthur Wesley Dow, and Henry Bosse—all represented in this catalogue—created cyanotypes with subtle variations in tonality that resonate poetically. In 1903 Kodak introduced the 3A Folding Pocket Camera, which featured rolled film producing 3¼-by-5½-inch negatives, specifically for postcards. Amateurs had previously made cyanotype postcards from glass negatives, but with the advent of the 3A and other postcard cameras like the Graflex, it became more common to have postcards professionally printed in the fashionable tones of black and white rather than the crude blue of the cyanotype. During World War I, American retailers like Kodak shifted away from producing commercially prepared printing-out papers, like cyanotype and platinum, in favor of emulsionbased papers, like gelatin silver. By the end of the war, the cyanotype had largely disappeared. However, it persisted as an inexpensive copying process in architecture and engineering, where it was commonly known as a “blue print.” Perhaps because of the association with copying, or maybe because of their
popularity among amateurs, cyanotypes were quickly relegated to a forgotten corner of photographic history.2 Most historical accounts of photography neglect to mention the medium, even today. In the 1950s, Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil attempted to resurrect the process in a series of prints of Weil’s body. By the early 1970s, a few photographers had begun to explore the process, attracted to its capacity for abstraction and to the idea of making photographs in the sun. Barbara Kasten, whose 1975 photogram is discussed in this catalogue, is counted among this pioneering generation. In the past fifteen years, a diverse group of contemporary artists have explored the expressive potential of the cyanotype process. Some works in the exhibition highlight the varied materials upon which a cyanotype can be made; Annie Lopez, for example, stitched together cyanotypes printed on tamale paper to create a series of dresses. Brooke Williams tea-toned her cyanotypes, adjusting their color to comment on her story as a Jamaican American woman. And artists such as Christian Marclay, Hugh Scott-Douglas, and Marco Breuer have experimented with photograms and abstraction to create meditative pieces of subtle beauty. Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period is the product of a collaboration between Worcester Art Museum and Clark University. We, the exhibition’s curators, developed the project over the course of more than a year of research, field trips, and ongoing conversations with experts in various disciplines. This exhibition catalogue begins with three longer essays that introduce the study of cyanotypes. Nancy’s essay examines the early history and reception of cyanotypes within the turn-of-the-twentieth-century photography community. Kristina’s essay explores the semiotic work of cyanotypes both as camera-based images and as photograms. Eliza Spaulding’s essay discusses the chemistry and conservation of cyanotypes. The catalogue then turns to twelve short essays that focus on individual works of art from the exhibition. These essays (with the exception of one) were written by art history students at Clark University who spent a semester researching cyanotypes in preparation for the exhibition. We are delighted to share their work with you as part of this path-breaking project. The exhibition and this accompanying catalogue provide an introduction to the history and reception of the cyanotype. As we continue to dive ever deeper into this sea of blue art, we are impressed by its richness and complexity. Our hope is that this project inspires further research into photography’s blue period. Nancy Kathryn Burns Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs Worcester Art Museum Kristina Wilson Associate Professor of Art History Clark University 1
John A. Tennant, ed., “The ‘Blue Print’ and Its Variations,” Photo-Miniature: A Magazine of Photographic Information 1, no. 10 (January 1900): 484.
See Nancy Kathryn Burns’s “The Fraudulent Enlistment of the Cyanotype” in this volume.
t H E F r A U D U l E N t E N l i s t M E N t o F t H E C yA N ot y P E Nancy Kathryn Burns
hotography critics and serious practitioners of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries routinely criticized the cyanotype. Critics repeated the same dismissive note: cyanotypes were disagreeably blue and not suitable for the production of real photography. this essay argues that the deep-seated protest about the disagreeable nature of the cyanotype’s blue hue circumvented a more fundamental inquiry about the cyanotype’s legitimacy as photograph. Besides the cyanotype’s blue appearance, its capability as a commercial reproductive “blue print,” and not solely a producer of images from photographic negatives, situated it at the margins of, or even outside the definition of, early photography. HistoriogrAPHy oF tHE CyANotyPE Named after the cyanogen-based sensitizer used for their development and not their blue appearance, cyanotypes caused a craze beginning in the 1880s among American amateur photographers.1 By the early twentieth century, cyanotypes became a mainstay for birthday invitations, postcards, and travel souvenirs (figs. 1, 2). Due to the cyanotype’s popularity, one would expect to find the cyanotype well represented in various nineteenth- and earlytwentieth-century histories on the photograph. yet beyond the mechanics of their production, cyanotypes left little ink in books and periodicals from their heyday. touted in journals such as the Art Amateur, Amateur Photography, and the Photographic times and American Photographer as a valuable learning tool for the nineteenth-century novice photographer, the cyanotype almost entirely disappeared from the historical survey of photography by the early twentieth century, the same moment they were most popular among amateurs. the earliest histories of photography made clear the negative assessment of the cyanotype through an avoidance of discussing it. Before the publication of Marcus Aurelius root’s 1864 book the Camera and the Pencil, the chapter “the History of Heliographic Art in Europe” appeared as an article in scientific American. Written less than twenty-five years after Daguerre and talbot were battling for the title of inventor of the photograph, root offered his “historic summary . . . of several variations of heliography on paper.” His list of photographic technologies read as a series of bullet points as opposed to a comprehensive analysis of each process. still, root inserted a bit of snide commentary about the cyanotype: “[it] was also a discovery of [sir John] Herschel’s. He describes several varieties of this process, which it is hardly worth the while to introduce here.”2 Both the 1862 article and the later book
fail to offer any specific reasons for root’s outright disdain for the cyanotype. Clearly he felt the need to acknowledge the cyanotype’s existence within the brief lifetime of the photograph if only to stipulate that it should be ignored. Excluding the excess of do-it-yourself books explaining how to make cyanotypes at home, the present-day historiographic account of the process is decidedly lopsided. it includes many fine articles and books related to the invention of the cyanotype by sir John Herschel in 1842, as well as scholarship focused on the botanical photograms by Anna Atkins. But thereafter academic references drop off with only sporadic allusions to cyanotypes in books and articles dealing with vernacular photography. in fact, Beaumont Newhall’s seminal, and perhaps too often relied upon, 1937 History of Photography never mentions the cyanotype.3 Determined scholars will find a few exhibition catalogues and essays devoted to specific late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century cyanotypists like Henry Bosse, Arthur Wesley Dow, and Edward linley sambourne.4 However, the historical record tapers off at the onset of the twentieth century, picking up again with later twentieth-century artists. surprisingly, present-day scholarship offers neither a comprehensive survey of the cyanotype nor an assessment of its unceremonious departure beginning in the 1920s.5 the living authority on the process, chemist, photohistorian, and artist Mike Ware, offers the most complete appraisal of the cyanotype’s history in his 1999 Cyanomicon: History, science and Art of Photographic Printing in Prussian Blue. But his timeline also drops off in the early twentieth century, picking up again in the century’s last decades.6 EArly ADvoCAtEs oF tHE CyANotyPE the dearth of historical and contemporary scholarship marking the arc of the cyanotype relates partly to the limited commentary on the aesthetic virtues—or vices—of cyanotypes even at the height of their popularity. rarely did turn-of-the-century publications or photographers both enthusiastically hold the cyanotype in high esteem and offer extensive public commentary to that effect. Exceptional in this regard, critic and photographer Adelaide skeel promoted cyanotypes throughout her career. in her 1888 article “Blues” for the American Annual of Photography and Photographic times Almanac, skeel openly voiced her affection for cyanotypes:
i would be pleased to have your company at my Birthday Party thursday afternoon May 30 at 1 oâ€™clock
1906 lana Kramy [?].
th Fif day th Bir
Write when you find time
Fig. 1: American, late 19th- to early 20th-century, Birthday invitation for lana Kramy[?], 1906, cyanotype and ink with graphite on card stock, Worcester Art Museum, gift of richard E. and Andrea M. Kremer, 2015.55.1
oshkosh, June 14, â€™07. Dear friend: very glad to hear from you once in a while, expect more than postals some time but i can imagine how busy you are. this is a snapshot of our little soldier do you think he grows? Will soon be three years old. Was home sunday to spend the day. Hope to see you before very long, stop off some time on your way home --With love, Clara Nelson---
Fig. 2: Attributed to Clara Nelson, American, late 19th- to early 20th-century, young Boy in soldier Costume, 1907, cyanotype and ink on card stock, Worcester Art Museum, gift of richard E. and Andrea M. Kremer, 2015.55.3
“Does your machine only take blue pictures—real photographers make people in black and white,” friends naïvely said to me when i first bought my ten dollar outfit. i paid no heed, and to day [sic], blue grass, not grown in Kentucky, blue cows, blue trees, and blue faces distinguish my work from that of real photographers. . . . [A]lthough other amateurs confess they use ferro-prussiate paper because, like patent medicine it is cheap, reliable, and within the reach of all, i make blues because i like them.7 Complaints skeel received about the unpleasant, artificial blueness of cyanotypes offer contemporary scholars meaningful evidence about turn-ofthe-century aesthetic tastes. Perhaps more important than the chiding she received from friends for printing “blue cows and blue trees” is her reference to “real photographers.” According to skeel, “real photographers” made black-and-white photographs. this being the case, cyanotypes fell outside the domain of “real photography.” skeel’s article not only indicates aesthetic preferences during the period, but for photography historians, the article triggers a more important question about the perceived legitimacy of the cyanotype as photograph. Another remarkable example promoting the merits of the cyanotype was the January 1900 edition of the Photo-Miniature, devoted entirely to “the ‘BluePrint’ and its variations.” Advertised as “a popular and fairly complete account of the iron printing processes . . . in handy form for the busy man,” the periodical offered an impassioned appraisal of cyanotypes as aesthetically beautiful in themselves, not merely identifying them as a process for the greenest of photographers. Further, in his embrace of the “blue print,” the handbook’s author, John A. tennant, voiced his (and this writer’s) bewilderment concerning the abject status of the cyanotype at the turn of the century: the indifference of the photographic world to the “blue print” is one of the seven wonders of that little world. it is one of the few things in photography about which even the amateur is not curious, which he accepts with unquestioning faith rather than as a subject for inquiry. if he is asked about it, he is apt to reply as the ancient mariner replied when questioned as to the precise meaning of the phrase “the trough of the sea.” “the trough of the sea? Why-it’s-the trough of the sea, to be sure.” to the photographer, amateur or professional, the blue print is a blue print and nothing more. if he has made blue prints, as most amateurs do in their salad days—using the commercially prepared paper, after the usual fashion of the novice—his impression is that the blue print is something cheap, and horribly blue. Why inquire further! it is used very largely by architects, draughtsmen, and
Fig. 3: Joseph H. greenwood, American, 1857-1927, snow Covered Pines (detail), about 1913, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, gift of the Estate of Mabel E. greenwood, 1965.850.1
engineers as an easy means of obtaining duplicate prints from their line drawings; but for photography? it is altogether too blue. on the one hand we have indifference, on the other hand prejudice.8 tennant wrote of an endemic, unspoken disrespect for the cyanotype. to this end, he emphasized that aversion toward the cyanotype extended beyond their appearance as “horribly blue.” rather, photographers from all walks of life avoided debate about the cyanotype. the blueness of cyanotypes may have been a common criticism voiced about the process, but tennant’s booklet implies that this knee-jerk response actually served as a diversion from another conversation that was not taking place. sidestepping debate about the cyanotype suggests a “cyanotype problem” more complex than simply a distaste for the color blue. A few fine artists chose the cyanotype for finished photographs over more fashionable processes like albumen or platinum. two such outliers are American printmaker and photographer Arthur Wesley Dow and civil engineer, cartographer, and photographer Henry Bosse. Dow’s Haystack variants, likely exposed to differing amounts of sunlight, illustrate the expressive effects of differing values of blue (figs. 4, 5). yet, it is important to note that Dow only printed photographs for personal enjoyment, unlike his woodcut impressions, explicitly made as fine art for public consumption. Bosse also capitalized on the blue shades of the cyanotype medium to great effect (see figs. 20, 21). However, his foremost responsibility lay in documenting the construction of bridges on the Mississippi, not developing photographs with an eye to the aesthetic. Without the need for a darkroom, cyanotype proved the most serviceable process for an engineer. While their deft handling of the cyanotype medium merits the attention of historians today, at the time of their production, Dow and Bosse’s affinity for the cyanotype remained mostly hidden. CyANotyPEs For tHE AMAtEUr PHotogrAPHEr Photography periodicals, whose bedrock readership consisted of amateur photography enthusiasts, must have been hard pressed to include the popular but disparaged iron-based processes. Avoiding insult or overly enthusiastic endorsement, discussion of the cyanotype in period amateur photography journals limited itself to instructions on how best to mix the iron-salt sensitizer (hotly debated), how to prevent the fogging of prints, and how long to expose the sensitized paper to sunlight. By restricting content almost exclusively to the level of instruction, with only modest aesthetic evaluation, these journals embraced cyanotypes as a kind of photographic exercise without endorsing them as a complete photographic process.
yet, scholars will be quick to point out there are many examples of advertisements and articles that appear to validate the cyanotype. However, these endorsements served as encouragement to practice with the cyanotype in preparation for the more ambitious work that real photographs required. the Art Amateur offered beginners a tepid endorsement of the cyanotype, noting their “charming effects” despite their blue tonality.9 Advertisements by the makers of commercial ferroprussiate papers like Eastman Kodak challenged novices like Worcester, Massachusetts painter Joseph H. greenwood to make cyanotype snowscapes (fig. 3, detail). in this case, the upselling of ferroprussiate prints served largely as a strategic move to inspire hobbyist photographers to continue making photographs in winter when the customer base significantly tapered off, not as a true commendation of the process. As the untapped future customers of photography publications, would-be photographers could be inspired to experiment with cyanotyping while simultaneously receiving encouragement to graduate from cyanotypes to the superior silver emulsion and platinum processes. Additionally, advancing the value of cyanotyping for proofing enabled discussion of the process as a preparatory tool for advanced photographers without conferring the status of “photograph” upon them. occasionally amateur periodicals broke with the party line. in an August 1877 issue of the Photography times, a seemingly benign article titled “the Cyanotype Copying Process” appeared midway through the issue. However, instead of offering innocuous instructions on mixing cyanotype sensitizer that subscribers would expect, the writer launched into an attack on the cyanotype that was nothing less than conspiratorial. “the cyanotype process, as sir John Herschel used to call it, is the latest attempt at ‘fraudulent enlistment,’ and the circumstance that we have here . . . does not make the deception the less barefaced.”10 “[F]raudulent,” “deception”—this Photographic times article indicted the cyanotype as a charlatan. turn-ofthe-century critics disliked cyanotypes, but could a photographic process prove so treacherous that it merited the accusation of deception? the cyanotype’s hue may have been disagreeable to many but to say the color blue constituted fraud seems excessive. the blue image produced by the cyanotype failed to mimic the world as seen, but neither did any other monochrome photography process. For this reason, the blueness of the cyanotype must not have been the only source of resistance toward the process. to this end, i propose the cyanotype’s use as a primitive copier, not only its ease of use and hue, unnerved some critics enough to consider it an imposter within the field of photography.11
MorE tHAN JUst A CAsE oF tHE BlUEs Unlike other print-out photographic processes, cyanotypes popularly served as the preferred copying process for drawings and text, not solely as a process for making image-based prints from negatives (i.e., photographs). i maintain this dual reproductive capability prevented cyanotypes from being considered wholly photographic. Close scrutiny illustrates that the cyanotype’s capacity as blueprint and not just photograph served as a central objection to the medium, even if mostly left unspoken. At the same time cyanotypes found favor among everyday photographers, theorists and serious practitioners furthered the cause that photography belonged within the realm of fine art. Burdened by its reliance on a machine, fine photography advocates highlighted the well-crafted pictorial effects and perceptive composition that the best photographs offered. setting out the conditions for photography as fine art, Peter Henry Emerson’s controversial 1889 Naturalistic Photography for students of the Art offered only a terse explanation for the omission of the cyanotype in its otherwise exhaustive presentation of various photographic processes: “the Ferro-Prussiate printing process, of course, does not concern us, blue prints are only for plans, not for pictures.”12 Emerson repudiated the cyanotype not for its color but for its practical application as a tool for making plans. in so doing, he implied a misuse—even abuse—of the cyanotype process when used for the printing of photographic negatives. Besides serving as training wheels for the novice photographer, cyanotypes were widely used by architects and engineers for copying drawings, a process still referred to as blueprinting. their ability to transfer either text or handdrawn diagrams, in addition to camera-generated images, onto a lightsensitive paper placed cyanotypes in an ambiguous space between reproductive and photoreproductive technologies. A December 1898 issue of the scientific journal Mining and scientific Press and Pacific Electrical review published the article “the Duplication of Drawings,” which highlighted the significance of the blueprint for engineers and architects. the author, l. osborne, explained the invention of the cyanotype: “it was in 1843 that sir John Herschel, while experimenting with photography, investigated the effect of light on various iron compounds, and afterwards perfected a method of photo-printing he called the cyanotype.”13 osborne labeled the cyanotype a “photo-print,” as if Herschel, during his experiments, invented something related to but other than a photograph. Calling the cyanotype “nothing more than the primitive form of the blueprint process,” osborne considered the cyanotype’s value inherently tied to its production of “an unlimited amount of duplicates.”14
Fig. 4: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857-1922, Haystack, about 1900, cyanotype, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents Frank and Anne Wigglesworth in memory of their love for ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.93
Fig. 5: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857-1922, Haystack (variant), about 1900, cyanotype, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents Frank and Anne Wigglesworth in memory of their love for ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.94
While the cyanotype’s blue color appeared dissonant when placed alongside other photographic processes, it was the reprographic function of the cyanotype as blueprint that situated the ferroprussiate process at the edge of, or even outside of, the realm of early photography. to borrow from ludwig Wittgenstein, if meaning is in its use, the blueprinting process was akin to today’s photocopier.15 Able to produce multiple copies of a text, drawing, or image, both the blueprint and the photocopy continue to be recognized as producing reproductions—not photographs—even though both are dependent on light-sensitive technology.16 Although all negative-based photography possessed the capability of producing multiples, the cyanotype, unlike emulsion processes, existed within scientific fields solely as a tool for duplication. the pedestrian usage of the cyanotype as copier interfered with early attempts to cultivate a perception of photography as art worthy.
the glaring omission of the cyanotype from the first histories of the cyanotype—notably, Newhall’s—is all the more striking given the overwhelming popularity of the medium in the last twenty-five years. Due to a complex combination of distaste for cyanotype’s blue tonality as well as anxiety about its reproductive reach, the medium’s status as photograph remained unclear at the turn of the century. Negative-based cyanotype photographs became associated with a kind of facsimile production that undermined attempts to legitimize photography as “authentic” and worthy of the designation as fine art. if the cyanotype could not be conclusively labelled a photograph, exclusion from early historical accounts of photography logically followed. As a result, the disappearance of the cyanotype from the earliest attempts to define a canon point to one of the first identity crises in photography’s adolescence.
NotEs 1 in an 1891 letter to the editor of The Photographic Times, amateur photographer g. lewis Holmes boasted he had made “some thousands” of cyanotypes. Photographic Times and American Photographer 21 (February 13, 1891): 491.
John A. tennant, ed., “the ‘Blue Print’ and its variations,” Photo-Miniature: A Magazine of Photographic Information 1, no. 10 (January 1900): 481. tennant goes on to defend the Prussian blue prints and dismisses those who denounce cyanotypes as limited in tonal range: “the blue print is like unto any other print of the better sort. it possesses an abundant capacity for giving detail, and a wide range of tone from light to dark.” Here tennant takes on one of the few concrete criticisms leveled at the cyanotype. though most condemnation references the abstract notion that the “blueness” of cyanotypes is unnatural, less frequently detractors cite the difficulty attaining breadth in tonality with iron-salt formulas and the short shelf life of prepared ferroprussiate papers. ibid., 482.
Marcus Aurelius root, “the History of the Heliographic Art in Europe and America,” Scientific American 6, no. 9 (1862): 135.
Anne McCauley’s important essay “Writing Photography’s History before Newhall” cautions art historians, like myself, when interrogating early photography histories. since most accounts were written by practitioners of photography rather than those with a background in the arts, early writers focused more on technical issues related to various processes rather than fully developed aesthetic analyses written with a connoisseur’s eye. However, for these purposes, i attach significance to the fact that cyanotypes receive even less aesthetic commentary relative to other processes from the period. Anne McCauley, “Writing Photography’s History before Newhall,” History of Photography 21, no. 2 (summer 1997): 87–101.
M. g. H. [author unknown] “Amateur Photography,” Art Amateur 13, no. 2 (July 1885): 28.
“the Cyanotype Copying Process,” Photographic Times and American Photographer 21 (August 24, 1877): 401.
some of the best sources addressing the early history of the cyanotypes are as follows: For discussion of Herschel’s indebtedness to Alfred smee’s work on electrochemistry and the relationship between Herschel and William talbot, see larry J. schaaf’s book Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot and the Invention of Photography (New Haven, Ct: yale University Press, 1992). For a thorough account of Herschel’s reticence accepting the cyanotype as a satisfactory photochemical invention, see Mike Ware, “Herschel’s Cyanotype: invention or Discovery?,” History of Photography 22, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 371–79. on Anna Atkins, see larry J. schaaf and Hans P. Kraus, Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms (New york: Aperture, 1985). For discussion of Atkins’s botanical prints as drawing as opposed to photograph, see Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher, Ocean Flowers: Impressions from Nature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004). on Henry Bosse, see Charles Wehrenberg, Mississippi Blue: Henry P. Bosse and His Views on the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Louis 1883–1891 (santa Fe, NM: twin Palms, 2002) and Mark Neuzil, Views on the Mississippi: The Photography of Henry Peter Bosse (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002). on Arthur Wesley Dow, see trevor Fairbrother, Ipswich Days: Arthur Wesley Dow and His Hometown (Andover, MA: Addison gallery of American Art, 2008). on Edward linley sambourne’s use of the cyanotype process for practical purposes, see Colin Hardin, “swimming in a cork jacket? Edward linley sambourne and photography,” British Art Journal 3, no. 1 (Autumn 2001): 46. For further discussion of sambourne’s exploitation the soft-focus effects of cyanotype and platinotype, see Alison smith, “the role of photography in the art of linley sambourne,” British Art Journal 3, no. 1 (Autumn 2001): 16.
in a subsequent 1891 article, Adelaide skeel offered a more developed hypothesis about the distaste for the cyanotype’s hue: “since no less an authority than W. Jerome Harrison, F.g.s., pronounces the fixing process of cyanotypes to be ideal, may i venture to add a few words on this mode of printing which i also think ideal? First of all, the usual objection that such pictures do not look real or natural, is set aside, when one considers that the representation of nature in black and white lines only seems more correct than in blue, because illustrations in books and pamphlets have accustomed our eyes and minds to these tones. in point of realism, a blue print more nearly reproduces many views than gray, brown or red, black or slate color, as, for instance, a snowscape with blue sky, a seascape with white sail, or distant river, mountain, and cloud effect.” “something More about the ‘Blues’,” for The Photographic Times and American Photographer 21, no. 489 (January 1891): 54.
Peter Henry Emerson, Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art, bk. 2, 3rd ed. (New york: Arno Press, 1899), 137. Emerson’s distaste for cyanotypes is further evident in his later, now infamous quote, “No one but a vandal would print a landscape in red or in cyanotype.” ibid., 196.
l. osborne, “the Duplication of Drawings,” Mining and Scientific Press and Pacific Electrical Review 77, no. 27 (December 31, 1898). osborne was incorrect in his date of 1843. Herschel invented the process in 1842.
Mike Ware explicitly makes this connection, noting that the ferroprussiate process “was for copying the plans in every drawing office, and it became the leading process for photocopying until the mid-1950s.” Mike Ware, “An ironic Manifesto,” Mike Ware Alternative Photography (website), accessed september 29, 2015, http://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/ironic_manifesto.html.
the status of the photocopy vis-à-vis photography is specifically addressed in an interview Jacques Derrida shared with german photography historian Hubertus von Amelunxen in 1992 that remained unpublished until 2000. in it, Derrida questions roland Barthes’s description of the photograph as making seen a singular referent from the past. instead, Derrida notes the possibility of a photograph reproducing a different kind of original, “without giving to be seen a singular moment of the world, when for example a photocopy is made of [an] original signature,” emphasizing, “a photocopy is, after all, a photograph isn’t it?” von Amelunxen responds by making a distinction between the two technologies: “indeed, the photocopy, like the photograph, retraces and reproduces the original by means of light, but whereas the photograph fragments and ruins space, the photocopy seems to preserve the original through an exact duplication.” Derrida concedes the point that the “obliteration” of a singular referent made possible by digital-based photographic media and the photocopy may place these technologies in the realm of photographic performativity rather than photography itself (italics mine). see gerhard richter, ed., Copy, Archive, Signature, A Conversation on Photography, trans. by Jeff Fort (stanford, CA: stanford University Press, 2010): 4–5. originally published in german under the title “Die Fotographie als Kopie, Archiv und signature: im gespräch mit Hubertus van Amelunxen und Michael Wetzel,” in Theorie der fotographie IV, 1980–1995, ed. Hubertus von Amelunxen (Munich: schirmer/Mosel, 2000).
though scholarship lacks a comprehensive assessment of the demise of the cyanotype, there are some practical hypotheses one can offer to explain its waning popularity by 1920 among amateurs. Foremost, commercial photography shifted away from printing-out methods during World War i. it is well known that platinum became scarce, making the production of platinumbased prints prohibitive, but there was also a paper crisis. Most photography paper was imported from Belgium, Britain, and France and no longer easily attainable. Eastman Kodak, a major importer of foreign photography papers, made the decision to focus its attention on emulsion developing paper in favor of printing-out papers. As a result, by 1916 Eastman Kodak had ceased production of their ferroprussiate (cyanotype) and platinum papers. though these facts may help to explain why cyanotypes fell into disuse, they fail to explain why the cyanotype is largely absent from the early historical record of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century photography surveys.
For an overall account of the invention, chemistry, and process, see Mike Ware, Cyanomicon: History, Science and Art of Photographic Printing in Prussian Blue (london: science Museum, london and National Museum of Photography, Film & television, Bradford, United Kingdom, 1999). Dr. Ware has generously made an updated version of this text available to the public electronically at www.mikeware.co.uk/downloads/cyanomicon.pdf. For an understanding of Dr. Ware’s new cyanotype process, invented in 1994, see both Cyanomicon: History, Science and Art as well as Eliza spaulding’s essay “on the Conservation of Cyanotypes” in this catalogue.
Adelaide skeel, “Blues,” in The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1889, ed. C. W. Canfield (New york: scovill Manufacturing Company, 1888), 3: 48–49.
t r U E B l U E : C yA N ot y P E s , t H E i N D E x , A N D t r U t H F U l N E s s Kristina Wilson
mong the theory-laden buzz words that swirl through the discourse of photography, the semiotic term index has been central.1 this essay investigates how viewers make meaning out of cyanotype photographs and considers how the concept of the semiotic index may or may not be helpful. these insistently blue images—created when sensitized paper is placed in direct contact with either a photographic negative or an actual object—enhance our conventional understanding of how photographs work as signs. the American philosopher Charles sanders Peirce introduced the term index in the later nineteenth century as part of a much larger project about semiotics and the psychology of perception. At the core of his project were three types of signs that demanded different kinds of mental work from a viewer: the icon, the symbol, and the index.2 Peirce described an icon as a sign that points to its referent through visual similitude—that is, the sign looks like what it refers to. When looking at an icon, a viewer compares the sign and the referent and finds meaning in the likeness. Peirce defined a symbol as a sign that points to its referent through conventionally understood abstract forms. A symbol could be a word—for example, the letters c-a-t pointing to an idea of “catness” in the conventional use of the English language—or it could be a graphic rendering that relies on the viewer’s understanding of the cultural context. Finally, an index is a sign that is linked to its referent through a causal, physical relationship. if a passerby sees smoke coming out of the chimney of a house, for example, she applies causal reasoning and interprets it as a sign of a fire in the hearth; the smoke is physically caused by the referent, which is the fire in the hearth. As Michael leja and other scholars have noted, Peirce did not expect that any given sign could be reduced to a single one of these types (and, indeed, he explored highly elaborate variations on these types).3 rather, he argued that signs operate in multiple ways, in varied combinations of index, icon, and symbol; as a consequence, we, as readers of signs, use multiple strategies to make sense of them. Peirce proposed that photography could be understood, in part, as an indexical sign:4 the light waves bouncing off of an object impress themselves on a light-sensitive surface (the photographic negative), leaving an indelible record of the presence of those objects. For many, this relationship of physical causality between sign and referent connotes authenticity. the photograph seems to guarantee that those objects were present at one time before the camera just as the smoke rising from the
chimney seems to guarantee that there is a fire in the hearth below. French philosopher roland Barthes called this the photograph’s assertion of “that-has-been.”5 indeed, a photograph’s status as an index is the root of its claim to truthfulness. the index, as an evidentiary imprint of reality, is conventionally understood to embody the truth. this essay suggests that cyanotypes productively disrupt the common lines of association that link photography’s indexicality to reality and truthfulness. A few features of cyanotypes allow them to generate such disruptions. First, as this exhibition demonstrates, the cyanotype process has been used both to make a print from a photographic negative (which, because the negative is made with a camera, i will call “camera-based cyanotypes”) and to make contact prints of actual objects (“photogram cyanotypes”). Although we read all cyanotypes as a combination of icon, symbol, and index, when we focus on their indexicality, we realize that these two approaches record two different kinds of referents. A camerabased cyanotype such as Frederick Coulson’s portrait of his sister smoking (fig. 6) is an index of a photographic negative, which in turn can be understood as an index of the scene in front of the photographer’s camera on February 10, 1895. More specifically, this camera-based cyanotype is an index of both the female figure as well as the space in which she resides—the curved archway that frames her, the foliage, and the empty space between her and Coulson’s camera. the photogram cyanotype, alternatively, is an index of a physical object that lay in contact with the prepared paper, as in the example of Anna Atkins’s botanical specimen or Christian Marclay’s unwinding cassette tape. there are important differences between these two types of index. the camera-based cyanotype distorts size, giving us a record of the world at a dramatically reduced scale. the photogram cyanotype, in contrast, gives us a one-to-one record of an object. the camera-based cyanotype renders space and the relationships of objects in that space, thus allowing the viewer to construct a narrative about the scene. the photogram cyanotype, alternatively, records objects in the spatial context of the physical paper but is largely devoid of narrative context. these very differences—in scale, spatial context, and narrative potential—should give us pause: can both of these indexical signs embody truth? the second feature of cyanotypes that allows them to contravene standard models of photographic meaning making is their ineluctable blueness. in a camera-based cyanotype, everything in the world (or everything in the photographic negative) is turned into a shade of blue. the blueness is a
Fig. 6: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869-1931, Coulsonâ€™s sister smoking a Cigarette, February 10, 1895, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza s. Paine Fund, 2010.271.41
constant reminder of difference between the printed image and the reality supposedly indexed therein. While the sky or water might appear blue, we know from human experience that the entire world is not blue. Although any monochromatic print is guilty of this difference from the everyday world, it has been convention since the later nineteenth century to accept brown and gray tones as neutral representational tools. Blue seems never to have been granted this status, as a 1918 comment from Amateur Photographer indicates: “Normally,” the author cautioned, “the blue print is not entirely suitable for the average subject.”6 in a photogram cyanotype, solid objects become white ghosts swimming in an unabashedly artificial field of blue. in both kinds of cyanotypes, the blue insistently reminds us of the materiality of this representation, of the paper stained with iron salt compounds that registers an image “as if by magic” when exposed to the sun.7 if any photograph is a flat surface marked by a pattern as a consequence of chemicals and light exposure, then cyanotypes assert the truth of what a photograph is. However, as signs that represent the world beyond the paper, they seem false: cyanotypes’ blueness prevents us from seeing through them to the “reality” beyond. so, are cyanotypes truthful or full of falsehoods? in the remainder of this essay, i will suggest that we can understand them as not-quite-truth. iNDEx, iCoN, syMBol A camera-based cyanotype, like a snapshot photograph, functions as both an index and an icon. We understand that the image is forged as a physical consequence of light bouncing off of a subject, which gives it a quality of authenticity or truth. yet we more readily understand the print as a representation of its subject because it looks like the subject. Coulson’s cyanotype of his sister is one such image (fig. 6). None of us living today saw this woman as she appeared to Coulson in 1895, but the distinctiveness of her nose, the set of her eyes, and her square jaw make her face identifiable as a particular individual. Although the blueness of her face is disruptive to our sense of reality (and i will return to this), we can pick her out among other cyanotypes he made. in fact, the image itself seems to play with the idea of visual identification. the woman holds the cigarette to her lips with her bare right hand while her left hand is gloved, grasping both a pumpkin and the empty glove that once covered her right hand. if her right hand has been unveiled, so to speak, she then uses it to partially veil her face: she holds the cigarette to her mouth, and we have no clear view of her face to confirm identity. Her eyes convey the slightest taunting message: she seems on the edge of smirking, about to ask us if we really care that she is smoking or if we can really prove it is her taking a drag.
John Dugdale’s stillness of spirit, made one hundred years after Coulson’s work, also capitalizes on the power of both the index and the icon in a highly self-conscious way (fig. 7). Because the sitter’s back is to us, we are unable to confirm identity between the image and the model, just as time (and a cigarette) prevent us from making such a comparison to Coulson’s sister. instead, Dugdale’s cyanotype intentionally provokes our ability to discover iconic similitude far beyond the confines of the picture: we compare this bare shoulder and head of hair to the many human figures we have seen in our lives and other images. the tracing of highlight and shadow across his skin and hair gives the cyanotype a tender intimacy: the light touches him—touches each irregular ripple and wrinkle of skin, coil of hair—and becomes a surrogate for us, who cannot touch him. indeed, the tactile immediacy of Dugdale’s light can be read as a visual representation of how we imagine the index to work: we imagine that the light waves reflected off of the subject and physically imprinted themselves on the photographic negative, and we see light physically bathing this man and rendering him visible to us. Coulson’s and Dugdale’s camera-based cyanotypes mix indexicality and iconicity in ways that are admittedly similar to many photographs. However, the example of Charles lummis’s cyanotype Chapel of Beatriz de la Cueva where she Perished sept 10, 1541 introduces additional points of resonance for these semiotic tools (fig. 8). lummis’s cyanotype demonstrates what was commonly understood in the early twentieth century as one of the medium’s indisputable benefits: the ease and speed with which it could provide a proof print of a negative. As one photography manual explained, “the simplicity of the ferro-prussiate process will at once suggest many uses for it. . . in the first place, it is eminently suited for making trial prints from negatives.”8 Another agreed: “[the blue print is] a ready means for making finished proofs when one’s time is limited.”9 indeed, because of its expediency, many photographers recommended cyanotypes specifically for making prints while traveling. “to the tourist in foreign countries who is anxious to make prints of those negatives which he develops en route, the process is to be recommended,” noted one such adviser. “A few minutes’ work, after the development of the negatives at night, will place him in possession of the necessary paper on which to print from them the following morning.”10 Using pre-prepared dry-plate negatives, the traveling photographer would need an improvised dark room merely for developing the negative plates; cyanotype paper then enabled one to proof the negative quickly and cheaply out in the open air while perhaps enjoying the sunlight and vistas that were the reason for travel in the first place.
Fig. 7: John Dugdale, American, born 1960, stillness of spirit, 1996, cyanotype in artist-made frame, Courtesy of Brian Cummings and richard Wein © John Dugdale 25
lummis’s cyanotype was likely made under such conditions. After a childhood spent in the Northeast, lummis moved to los Angeles in 1884 and became known as an early historian and ethnographer of the southwestern United states and Mesoamerica. He traveled to guatemala in 1911, and it is on this trip that he made his cyanotype of the chapel. lummis had written about de la Cueva in his 1893 book the spanish Pioneers, in which he described her death in a flood triggered by the eruption of the volcano volcan de Agua. His cyanotype, labeled with the date of de la Cueva’s death, has an air of certification: the indexicality of the photographic image attests that this chapel exists and that lummis was there to witness it. His handwritten label, superimposed on the negative, acts as an additional authenticating force, announcing not just that the chapel exists but that a specific human life was lost there. Finally, the cyanotype medium itself connoted indexical authenticity because it was the preferred medium for proofing in the field: the light that developed this print could easily have been the same sunlight captured iconically in the image. the cyanotype itself—the image printed off center on inexpensive paper, the clips of negative holder evident on the border—further embodies there-ness. yet, the facts constrain the layers of truthfulness seemingly embedded in this object. in spanish Pioneers, lummis described de la Cueva’s conquistador husband as “broken” by the news of her death in the volcanic flood, although he had actually predeceased her by several months; lummis also neglected to report de la Cueva’s ascent to guatemalan governor after her husband’s death; and the date of the volcanic eruption that caused her death was september 11, not 10, 1541.11 if camera-based cyanotypes embody the immediacy of fieldwork, they may add a layer of indexicality to our understanding of photography. But what about photogram cyanotypes? Photograms mark the physical shadow of an object and thus have a claim to the label of the index.12 some photogram cyanotypes, such as the pioneering work of Anna Atkins, also signify through likeness: the shadow print leaves a contour line that visually resembles the subject represented (see fig. 18). Christian Marclay’s Unwound Cassette tape can be understood to operate in a similar way (see fig. 38). the translucent plastic shell that houses the audio tape, with its distinctive gears, peg holes, and spooled tape, can be read iconically. Furthermore, whereas Atkins’s botanical specimens float in space, like a leaf on a pond, Marclay’s photogram illustrates iconically the force of gravity, as the infinitely unwinding tape appears to pool at the bottom of the image.13 Marclay also capitalizes on the index’s ability to mark an event in time. He repeatedly exposed this single cyanotype to light with progressively greater amounts of unwound tape positioned on the bottom; the
stronger white passages of tape have been exposed multiple times, burning a strong white shadow into the paper, whereas passages of lighter blue tape have been exposed fewer times. the piece is a kind of time-lapse photograph, in which we witness multiple discreet moments in time collapsed into our singular momentary perception of the work. the iconicity of a photogram is ultimately limited, however, because the primary piece of visual information preserved from the object is its contour, which is collapsed into a two-dimensional outline. Depending on the object’s orientation to the paper, the outline can change. in addition, a photogram infrequently captures the surface qualities of an object, such as texture. A photogram, in effect, abstracts its referent and forces us to assimilate generalized information. through the process of abstraction, the photogram opens itself up to Peirce’s third term, the symbol: when forms are sufficiently abstracted from individual distinctiveness, we look to conventional languages of meaning in order to read them. in the case of Unwound Cassette tape, when the five-foot-long piece of paper is hung on the wall, it uncannily echoes human scale; the two peg holes become eyes peering into ours; and the unspooled tape reflects the typical movement of our legs, momentarily frozen in time as we stand before the work. Hugh scott-Douglas’s untitled cyanotype on linen also embraces the symbolic potential of the photogram (fig. 9). the grid that marches across the linen is disrupted in several passages, including the upper right quadrant and across the horizontal axis at center, where the lines disappear and the grid slips off register. if the grid suggests plotting space or time, these mistakes rend the presumed continuity of space and time. symbolically, they evoke those momentary alterations to our personal experience when time slips away (such as when we are immersed in an activity) or when our spatial surroundings slip away (such as when we are taken over by a memory). the darker and lighter forms that hover in the lower left part of the canvas were caused by the irregular distribution of the iron salts when the linen was soaked in preparation for exposure.14 However, given the association between cyanotype development and sunlight, as well as the symbolic association of blue and sky, these forms read as conventionalized representations of clouds that travel in time across our visual field. scott-Douglas describes his cyanotype canvases as a “bi-product [sic] of the contingent environment—the intensity of the sun passing over the canvas at its time of development.”15 the entire piece becomes a symbolic meditation on time: its incessant march, our ability to disrupt its experience subjectively, and its visual representation in the sky over our heads.
Fig. 8: Charles Fletcher lummis, American, 1859-1928, Chapel of Beatriz de la Cueva where she Perished sept 10, 1541, 1911, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, gift of Douglas Cox and Edward osowski Fund for Photography in Honor of the Photographer, 2015.37 26
BlUE But what about the blue of the cyanotype? How does this affect our ability to read the work as index, icon, or symbol? Despite the popularity of cyanotypes for amateur photographers around the turn of the twentieth century, their blueness always seems to have been an issue. in 1891, a defender of the expressive possibilities of cyanotypes noted “the usual objection that such pictures do not look real or natural.”16 Whatever the reasons for the conventional acceptance of brown- or gray-scale photography in the nineteenth century—which were many and multiply determined—the cyanotype has apparently always reminded viewers of the difference between the representation and the presumed reality. As a British photographer admonished in 1898, “no one but a vandal would print a landscape in red, or in cyanotype.”17 A photographic image is, of course, always different from its subject: it is smaller than what it depicts, it is flat, and in some cases it is monochromatic. yet the rhetoric of the index and the often powerful iconic verisimilitude encourage us to ignore such differences. the cyanotype—both camera-based and photogram— is a blatant reminder that a photograph is, at heart, always capable of falsehood. A cyanotype such as Coulson’s image of his sister convinces us simultaneously that she must have looked that way at a moment in history and that she could never have looked that way. Just as she unveiled her hand only to veil her face, the image unveils its reality through utter clarity but then veils the truth in its utter blueness. We think we see a reality contained in the world of the image but understand that the image is not truthful. the link between reality and truth is severed. the blue of the cyanotype does something else, apart from its factual dishonesty. if an index is a record of past-ness—the assertion of “thathas-been” that endures in the present—the blue of a cyanotype disrupts that sense of the passage of time. the blueness has a quality of eternal presence: it was never part of the historical scene on the porch where Coulson’s sister stood with her cigarette, but it is always with us as we view the picture. the blue affects us on an emotional register that is distinct from what the image portrays. As viewers, our emotional responses to blue are both culturally conditioned and inescapably individual; we might associate blue with sky, water, and spiritual infinity (as yves Klein claimed), or we might associate blue with coolness, the “blues,” and depression. the color blue resonates emotionally and in the body: blue can be bracing, or it can be soothing.
the strong affective valence of the deep Prussian blue may be why historical cyanotypes are greeted with nostalgia by some viewers. the color elicits a powerful emotional, embodied response in the present that makes us physically feel the loss of the past in an acute way. if the blue of a camera-based cyanotype is factually false—Dugdale’s model did not have blue skin the day he was photographed—it calls forth a very immediate, experientially real response in the viewer. the blue makes the image less truthful to the historical record but more vibrant, more evocative in present-moment reality.18 Again, truth and reality are severed. the blue of the photogram cyanotype similarly complicates the diagnosis of truth in a photographic product. Although a photogram is a one-to-one print, we do not assume it is a one-to-one translation of all available visual data of an object. We acknowledge its imperfection, its falseness, and the slippage between represented contours and imagined bodies. in the case of the photogram cyanotype, the deep field of artificial blue amplifies the slippage and incompleteness of the representation. one could say that through its blueness, the photogram cyanotype fully owns its ontological status as not-quite-truth. if blue has sometimes been associated with honesty and clarity, in the case of the cyanotype it would appear to be the opposite. the blue of the cyanotype draws attention to the falseness that is at the heart of all photography. At the same time, the cyanotype’s persistent difference from that which it represents forces us to pay attention to how we make meaning out of a photographic image. our minds play with the cyanotype’s iconicity, indexicality, symbolism, and the deep, affective power of its blue tone. individually, these elements may fail in truthfulness, but they open up that space of creative artifice in which works of art often reside.
in the later twentieth century, the index became a key term for thinking about photography. rosalind Krauss’s many scholarly works have positioned the index centrally; see, for example, “Notes on the index,” parts 1 and 2, in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA: Mit Press, 1985), 196–220. recent debates on photography theory have wrestled—not always productively—over the value of the index. see James Elkins, ed., Photography Theory (New york: routledge, 2007).
For a concise account of Peirce’s semiotic ideas, see his “logic as semiotic: the theory of signs,” in Semiotics: An Introductory Anthology, ed. robert E. innis (Bloomington: indiana University Press, 1985), 4–23.
Michael leja, “Peirce, visuality, and Art,” Representations, no. 72 (Autumn 2000): 97–122. James Elkins alludes to this complexity in “the Art seminar,” in Photography Theory, 130.
leja quotes Peirce on his understanding of the sign functions of photography. see leja, “Peirce, visuality, and Art,” 113–14, and 32n. Peirce, “logic as semiotic,” 11.
“Painting can feign reality without having seen it. . . . Contrary to these imitations, in Photography i can never deny that the thing has been there. there is a superimposition here: of reality and of past. And since this constraint exists only for Photography, we must consider it, by reduction, as the very essence, the noeme of Photography. . . . the name of Photography’s noeme will therefore be: ‘that-has-been.’” roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. richard Howard (New york: Hill and Wang, 1981), 76–77.
“Cyanotype,” Amateur Photographer (February 1918): 92.
oscar Bolle, “Prints in turnbull’s Blue,” Photographic Times (December 1, 1897): 579.
george E. Brown, Ferric and Heliographic Processes: A Handbook for Photographers, Draughtsmen, and Sun Printers, 2nd ed. (New york: tennant & Ward, 1907), 23.
The Modern Way in Picture Making, rev. ed. (rochester, Ny: Eastman Kodak, 1907), 118. Another photography enthusiast concurred: “[Blue Print paper] is excellent for making proofs cheaply.” B. H. Wilke, “Choice of Papers,” Popular Photography (July 1912): 415.
Brown, Ferric and Heliographic Processes, 24. Another concurred: “When travelling, the [cyanotype] process is most acceptable, if we wish to make a print quickly and without trouble, from a fresh negative.” Bolle, “Prints in turnbull’s Blue,” 579. Kodak advertised “blue print postcards” extensively in the decade after 1900 as an essential part of “that vacation list.” see advertisement for Eastman Kodak Company, Photo Era (July 1908): 70; selected ads from the 1906 Kodak Trade Circular, Eastman Historical Collection at the University of rochester library. My thanks to Nancy Kathryn Burns for sharing these with me.
Charles F. lummis, Spanish Pioneers (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1893), 178. see also: Mark thompson, American Character: The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Rediscovery of the Southwest (New york: Arcade, 2001).
For a provocative alternative reading of shadows and photography’s indexicality, see Hagi Keenan, “Photography and its shadow,” Critical Inquiry 41, no. 3 (spring 2015): 541–72.
Despite the evocation of gravity, this piece is actually made on a horizontal plane. Noam M. Elcott, “Ultimately Detritus: Christian Marclay’s Cyanotypes,” in Christian Marclay: Cyanotypes (tampa, Fl: graphicstudio, 2011), 8.
Matt Bangser, Blum & Poe gallery, e-mail message to author, November 3, 2015.
Blum & Poe gallery, los Angeles, “Hugh scott-Douglas: the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” press release, 2013, http://www.blumandpoe.com/exhibitions/hugh-scott-douglas#press1, accessed october 6, 2015.
Adelaide skeel, “something More about the ‘Blues,’” Photographic Times and American Photographer, 30 (January 1891): 54.
P. H. Emerson, “Naturalistic Photography,” Photographic Times (september 1, 1898): 411.
My thoughts about emotional valence in the context of a narrative account is influenced by Frederic Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism (New york: verso, 2013).
Fig. 9: Hugh Scott-Douglas, British, active in the United States and Canada, born 1988, Untitled, 2012, cyanotype on linen, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, los Angeles © Hugh scott-Douglas
o N t H E C o N s E rvAt i o N o F C yA N ot y P E s Eliza spaulding
n exhibition dedicated to a single medium is a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the subject. In preparation for Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period, the Paper Conservation Department at Worcester Art Museum reviewed the literature on the manufacture, preservation, and conservation of cyanotypes to determine how the more than fifty cyanotypes from the museum’s collection in the exhibition could be safely treated, displayed, and subsequently stored. The modest collection of books and articles on the underrepresented subject allowed for a nearly comprehensive review.1 Here, I will share highlights from this research, including how cyanotypes are made, the medium’s inherent vulnerabilities, and how they can be protected. The conclusion will touch upon the current state of the conservation treatment research and one of the many questions in need of further study. The cyanotype was invented in 1842 by Sir John Frederick William Herschel, an English scientist and astronomer. Inspired by fellow English scientist and mathematician William Henry Fox Talbot—who, only a few years prior, had discovered how to produce a photograph on paper from a camera— Herschel explored the photosensitivity of iron salts, eventually discovering that a “cyanotype” could be made simply through the following process:2 1 Coat an absorbent substrate with a sensitizer solution of roughly equal parts potassium ferricyanide and ammonium ferric citrate in dim light. (A variety of substrates can be used, but paper and fabric were and continue to be the most common.) 2 Place a photographic negative (to create a positive photographic print) or an object (to create a negative photogram) in close contact with the dry, sensitized substrate, and expose it to a light source containing ultraviolet light, such as sunlight. Exposure time varies depending on the strength of the light source and the desired outcome. During exposure, light and the presence of an organic anion (such as a citrate or an oxalate) convert the ferric salt to the ferrous state. 3 After exposure, wash the print in water to complete the formation of the image and to rinse away any unused sensitizer. In water, the ferrous ions react with the potassium ferricyanide to produce ferric ferrocyanide, also known as the pigment Prussian blue. See figures 10-13 for photographic illustrations of the cyanotype process.
Herschel reported his findings in his paper “On the Action of the Rays of the Solar Spectrum on Vegetable Colours and on Some New Photographic Processes,” which he presented at the Royal Society of London on June 16, 1842.3 Remarkably, his process has survived virtually unchanged to the present day. In spite of the simple elegance and popularity of Herschel’s cyanotype formula, it has several disadvantages. Adequate exposure can take a long time (up to 30 minutes or more); the sensitizer is poorly absorbed by cellulose-based substrates, which can lead to the image washing away during the final rinse stage; areas of extended exposure tend to produce an elevated level of iron that can migrate and stain adjacent areas of the image; and the two stock solutions must be stored separately to maintain a reasonable shelf life.4 It wasn’t until 1994 that Dr. Mike Ware, an English chemist and photographer, improved the process by introducing a new cyanotype sensitizer. (Dr. Ware is also the scholar who deserves the most credit for expanding our knowledge of the cyanotype medium as a whole.) Instead of using a solution of potassium ferricyanide and ammonium ferric citrate, Ware’s process combines potassium ferricyanide and ammonium ferric oxalate, a chemical that was used in early formulations to produce blueprints. The Ware process allows for shorter exposure time (around 4 minutes), eliminates iron migration, and produces images with a greater tonal range, among other favorable qualities. The disadvantages of the Ware process include a more involved preparation, higher toxicity, and costlier chemicals.5 Figures 14–17 compare cyanotypes made using Herschel’s process and Ware’s process to provide a sense of their visual differences. Once a cyanotype has been created, it is vulnerable to fading from light exposure, bleaching from contact with alkaline materials, and physical displacement of Prussian blue image particles from aqueous treatment. Although pure Prussian blue is stable in the presence of light, impurities from the cyanotype process or the environment can cause a chemical reaction that converts Prussian blue to Prussian white, fading the image. Incredibly, if the cyanotype has been exposed to moderate display conditions, such as the ones described in the following paragraph, when it is placed in the dark, oxygen in the air converts Prussian white back to Prussian blue, rendering the change almost completely reversible.6 However, when a cyanotype is in contact with an alkaline material (pH 7–14) or receives aqueous treatment, the damaging effects can be permanent. Contact with
Fig. 10: Coat the substrate (in this case, a moderately thick, smooth, cream wove paper) with a solution of roughly equal parts potassium ferricyanide and ammonium ferric citrate in dim light. Image not in exhibition.
Fig. 11: Place an object (in this case, a leaf) or a photographic negative in close contact with the dry, sensitized sheet, and expose it to sunlight or another light source containing ultraviolet light. Here, two sheets of Plexiglas (non-UV filtering) and binder clips were used to press the leaf against the sensitized sheet. The sensitizer can be seen changing from yellow-green to blue. Image not in exhibition.
Fig. 12: Once development of the image is complete, place it in water and agitate the water passing over the cyanotype to encourage development of the image and to rinse away any unused sensitizer. Image not in exhibition.
Fig. 13: Allow the cyanotype to dry thoroughly before enjoying. Image not in exhibition.
Fig. 14: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857-1922, Flowers with Pods, about 1895, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, sarah C. garver Fund, 1997.74. Although the author does not know with certainty that Dow made this cyanotype using Herschelâ€™s process, it was so pervasive at the time that it is likely. Ware made Ficus (Figure 15) using his own process, which offers finer image color and gradation than Herschelâ€™s. see the details from Figures 14 and 15 on page 34 for a close-up comparison. Fig. 15: Mike Ware, British, born 1939, Ficus, 1998, cyanotype, loan courtesy of gallery 19/21.
alkaline materials can cause cyanotypes to decolorize, bleaching away the image. The small size of Prussian blue image particles complicates aqueous treatment: the physical action of the water can wash them from their substrate. Despite their vulnerabilities, cyanotypes can be safely displayed by housing them in non-alkaline (or unbuffered) materials, limiting their exposure to light, and exhibiting them in a moderate and consistent environment. For this exhibition, all framed objects were mounted in sink mats made from 4-ply, unbuffered, high-quality mat board. 7 The sink mats were created by adhering strips of unbuffered board to the backboard to create a recess or “sink” in which the cyanotype is mounted. When covered by the mat window, the strips are invisible. Sink mats were selected because they allow air to circulate around the image. If the cyanotype fades while on display, access to air allows the image to regenerate while the gallery lights are turned off. The exhibition is on display for 3 months in a climatecontrolled gallery conditioned to 70 degrees F +/–5 and 50% relative humidity +/–5. The gallery lights are adjusted between 4–5 footcandles, which is a moderate to low amount of light. Following the exhibition, the cyanotypes will be stored in their sink mats in dark storage with access to air for several years to allow them to regain image density loss.8
Fig. 16: A 6x microscopic detail of Dow’s Flowers with Pods. Details of Dow’s Flowers with Pods and Ware’s Ficus (Figure 17) offer a close view of the finer image color and gradation Ware achieved using his process in comparison to those Dow achieved using Herschel’s process. in Ficus, the depth of the blue background and the subtle shifts in color in the leaf are particularly noteworthy.
Although the existing literature readily explores how cyanotypes are made, the medium’s inherent vulnerabilities, and how they can be safely displayed and stored, relatively little information is available about how they can be safely treated. Specifically, while it is accepted that cyanotypes are vulnerable to aqueous treatment, how vulnerable are they? A small number of publications discuss the aqueous treatment of cyanotypes, but the conservation field would benefit from more research that further defines the boundaries of aqueous treatment and how those treatments affect the stability of the medium over time.9 For this exhibition, we adopted a conservative approach, and none of the cyanotypes was treated aqueously. However, I hope to contribute to this growing body of knowledge about one of art history’s most delightfully peculiar mediums.
Fig. 17: A 6x microscopic detail of Ware’s Ficus.10
Selected bibliography: Atkins, Anna, and Larry J. Schaaf. Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins. New York: Aperture, 1985. Price, Lois. Line, Shade, and Shadow: The Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2010. Stulik, Dusan C., and Art Kaplan. “Cyanotype.” In The Atlas of Analytical Signatures of Photographic Processes. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute, 2013. https://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/pdf_publications/pdf/atlas_cyanotype.pdf. Ware, Mike. Cyanomicon: History, Science and Art of Cyanotype: Photographic Printing in Prussian Blue. Last modified 2014. http://www.mikeware.co.uk/downloads/cyanomicon.pdf. Mike Ware Alternative Photography (website). http://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/main.html.
Talbot produced the first photograph on paper from a camera in 1835. By 1840, he had improved the process and coined it “calotype,” later to be known as “Talbotype.” Mike Ware, Cyanomicon: History, Science and Art of Cyanotype: Photographic Printing in Prussian Blue, last modified 2014, http://www.mikeware.co.uk/downloads/cyanomicon.pdf. For more information on the discoveries of Herschel and Talbot and their relationship, see Larry J. Schaaf, Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot & the Invention of Photography (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992).
John F. W. Herschel, “On the Action of the Rays of the Solar System on Vegetable Colours, and on Some New Photographic Processes,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 132 (1842): 181–214. Accessed August 21, 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/108152.
For a more in-depth explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of Herschel’s process versus Ware’s process, see Ibid., 156–59.
Studies have demonstrated that when cyanotypes are on display in moderate conditions for limited periods of time, any minor fading that occurs is almost completely reversible when the cyanotypes are taken off display, placed in the dark, and exposed to air. However, a threshold for exposure has yet to be determined. This is the subject of Mike Ware’s current research. For further information about these studies, see Ibid., 181–96. In conjunction with the exhibition Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period, I will be taking color measurements of a representative group of cyanotypes using a X-Rite i1Pro2 spectrophotometer before, during, and after the exhibition to determine the degree to which the photographs fade and regenerate under the conditions stipulated in the body of the text. Results of this study will be shared in the future.
The 4-ply, unbuffered mat board used for the exhibition is manufactured by Crescent and is available in a range of colors. One distributer is Don Mar Frame & Moulding in Providence, RI: http://www.donmarcreations.com.
Although the cyanotypes included in the exhibition likely will regain any image density loss within a few weeks of being in dark storage, they will be secluded for several years to help preserve their paper and silk supports, which are vulnerable to degradation from light exposure, a reaction that is not reversible.
The small number of publications that address the aqueous treatment of cyanotypes include those by Lois Price and Mike Ware, as referenced in the selected bibliography associated with this essay, as well as Marta Barandiaran, “Evaluation of Conservation Treatments Applied to Salted Paper Prints, Cyanotypes and Platinotypes,” Studies in Conservation 45, no. 3 (2000): 162–68; Richard Moll, “The Fading Characteristics of Cyanotypes” (master’s thesis, Queen’s University, 1993); Michelle Sullivan, Shannon Brogdon-Grantham, and Kimi Taira, “New Approaches to Cleaning of Works of Art on Paper and Photographs” (paper presented at ANAGPIC, Buffalo, NY, April 11, 2014), http://cool.conservation-us.org/anagpic/2014pdf/ anagpic2014_sullivan_etal_paper.pdf; and Sarah S. Wagner, “Some Recent Photographic Preservation Activities at the Library of Congress,” Topics in Photographic Preservation 4 (1991): 136–50.
The detail images of Dow’s Flowers with Pods and Ware’s Ficus (figures 16 and 17) were taken through a Leica M28 stereomicroscope tethered to a computer and captured using ISCapture software.
A N N A At K i N s : t H E A rt o F s C i E N C E gabrielle Belisle ’17
t first glance, Anna Atkins’s cyanotype photogram Honey locust leaf and Pod (gleditsia triacanthos) appears rather simple, belying its importance in photographic history (fig. 18). the image depicts the white impression of a frond from the honey locust tree lying diagonally across a field of slightly faded Prussian blue. Parallel beneath it, in the right corner of the page, sits the white imprint of a seed pod from the same tree. the lower left-hand corner bears a small, white inscription printed on the page using opaque ink on oiled paper.1 it reads “gleditsia triacanthos,” the plant’s scientific name, with “America” in parentheses proclaiming its origin. slight damage runs along the left edge of the paper, likely evidence of the photogram’s removal from its original binding in an album. Atkins titled this volume Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns and gave it to her close friend Anne Dixon in 1854.2 slight wear on the lower right corner shows probable damage from readers leafing through the pages of the volume. this cyanotype demonstrates how Atkins fused together a deep interest in art and a lifelong love of science.
Honey locust leaf and Pod represents the nineteenth-century interest in the natural world that produced works such as Charles Darwin’s on the origin of species or Edward Neuman’s British Ferns and Allied Plants.3 Born in Kent, England, in 1799, Atkins was an only child raised by her father, John george Children. the two were very close; even after her marriage to John Pelly Atkins in 1825, she and her husband lived with her father in Halstead Place, Kent. Children, who died in 1852, was the source of Anna’s scientific passion. He was deeply involved in the British scientific community, occupying various positions including vice president of the london Botany society, assistant keeper of the British Museum’s natural history department, and secretary of the royal society. As a young adult, Atkins illustrated her father’s botany books by hand with painstaking accuracy. she ultimately fell in love with the popular field of botany, one of the few scientific fields in which women were welcomed.4
Children’s extensive career earned him many famous friends, including Henry Fox talbot and sir John Herschel, pioneers in the development of photography. through these friends, father and daughter kept abreast of scientific developments, including the new field of photography. one year after Herschel invented the cyanotype, Atkins began a serial printing of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype impressions, the first book ever to include photographic illustrations.5 When used for botanical illustration, the cyanotype offered a much simpler method than her earlier hand drawings; it was quick and provided accurate results. Children used his knowledge of chemistry to prepare the solutions Atkins then used to make her prints, and Atkins collected various plants and algae specimens for the photograms with the aid of her lifelong friend Anne Dixon. she produced more than a dozen copies of British Algae, each with ten volumes. Atkins’s cyanotypes are legible for scientific examination but also eye-catching and visually pleasing. the impressions of algae printed on a blue background evoke the blue of ocean water. she embraced the contrast and the shading produced on more transparent specimens as part of her composition. Atkins’s foray into the artistic use of the cyanotype increased once she completed Photographs of British Algae in 1853. the album from which Worcester Art Museum’s Honey locust leaf and Pod is taken, Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns, served as an experiment. the artist moved away from the aquatic specimens and included cyanotypes of ferns, flowers, various bird feathers, and unscientific but aesthetically pleasing photograms of delicate lace. Honey locust leaf and Pod provides evidence of Atkins’s artistic eye. Her arrangement is off-center. this photogram is distinctive because it includes the pod along with the fern. inclusion of the pod adds weight to the lower part of the image and disrupts the balance of the composition. the addition of the pod indicates an aesthetic choice, as it probably compromised the clarity of the image, a quality that would have been more important in a purely scientific piece.
Fig. 18: Anna Atkins, British, 1799-1871, Honey locust leaf and Pod (gleditsia triacanthos), about 1854, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, stoddard Acquisition Fund, 1989.9 36
When making a cyanotype, Atkins laid a botanical specimen on paper and used a frame and pane of glass to hold the specimen in place for a sharper image. in this case, the pod had a raised surface in comparison to the fern, and the print would have required the use of multiple panes of glass: one to compress the top of the fern, the other to compress the lower part of the fern and the raised surface of the pod. Using multiple panes of glass sacrificed the clarity of the image, as the lower glass could not sit as tightly on the page, resulting in a blur midway through the fern where the glass was not secure. Near the center of the cyanotype, a small break is apparent in the central stem of the fern. this fracture provides another clue to Atkins’s creation of this album as a hobby and gift for her friend Anne Dixon. if Atkins had been attempting to record the honey locust for scientific accuracy rather than pleasure and appearance, she would have spent more time carefully aligning the fracture to minimize its noticeability or would have found a specimen in better condition. (she may have used her husband’s connections as a landowner in Jamaica to obtain North American plants, such as the honey locust specimens.) instead, she allowed the break in the specimen to remain visible. this photogram was produced two years following the death of Atkins’s beloved father. it is not unreasonable to wonder if she may have seen beauty in the fragility of the specimen. Perhaps she reflected on the stem, thinking of the break in her household after the loss of her father, or possibly the way she looked to Dixon for support while mending her broken heart.
David Acton, stephen B. Jareckie, and Ben Charland, Photography at the Worcester Art Museum: Keeping Shadows (Worcester, MA: Worcester Art Museum, in association with snoeck, 2004), 32.
larry J. schaaf, Sun Gardens: An Exhibition of Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins (st. Andrews, scotland: Crawford Centre for the Arts, 1988), 44. the album remained intact until its 1981 division at a sotheby’s auction: Photographic Images and Related Material (london: sotheby’s, March 29, 1985).
Edward Newman, A History of British Ferns (london: J. van voorst, 1854). see also Philip Henry gosse, The Romance of Natural History (london: James Nisbet, 1861).
Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher, eds., Ocean Flowers: Impressions from Nature (New Haven, Ct: yale University Press, 2004), 100–101. see also D. E. Allen, “the Women Members of the Botanical society of london, 1836–1856,” British Journal for the History of Science 13, no. 3 (1980): 240–54.
Carol M. Armstrong, Scenes in a Library: Reading the Photograph in the Book, 1843–1875 (Cambridge, MA: Mit Press, 1998), 179–276.
the fusing of the scientific and the artistic continues throughout the history of the cyanotype, as shown by other artists and works within this exhibition. one artist in particular, Frederick Coulson, takes an approach similar to Atkins. reflecting his love of botany and amateur photography, Coulson’s images of botanical subjects embrace the blue of the cyanotype as a means of enhancement, adding an ethereal quality. in particular, this blending of the scientific and artistic is visible in his image tibouchina (fig. 19). Created from a negative, this photograph shows a close-up of leaves on a plant. the delicate veining in the leaves stands out in sharp contrast to the darkest blues of the stem. the simplicity of the image harks back to Atkins’s silhouetted specimens. Coulson provided a white sheet as a backdrop for his cyanotype to limit the view to include the nearly centered subject in the way Atkins isolated her specimens on a field of Prussian blue. Both Coulson and Atkins embraced the art of science. Worcester Art Museum’s Honey locust and leaf Pod illustrates how Atkins’s cyanotypes move beyond scientific documentation and embrace an aesthetic sensibility.
Fig. 19: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931, tibouchina, November 28, 1901, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza s. Paine Fund, 2010.271.40 39
t H E E x P r E s s i v E P ot E N t i A l o F B o s s E ’ s l A N D s C A P E s Abby Moon ’17
enry Bosse’s cyanotypes are impressively nostalgic. U.s. steamlaunch “louise,” near Keokuk, iA (fig. 20) and From Bluffs at Merrimac, Minnesota (fig. 21) were both published in Bosse’s 1893 album views on the Mississippi river Between Minneapolis, Minn. and st. louis, Mo. six copies of this album have been found. Both of these prints belonged, in fact, to the very same volume—the Mackenzie album, which was disassembled in the 1990s and sold print by print at sotheby’s.1 the cyanotype prints exhibited in Bosse’s first album are much more than documents of a land being transformed; they are self-conscious, emotional maps of one man’s journey through it.
not even been exposed to images of the locations that he visited. U.s. steamlaunch “louise” effectively illustrates the complexity of settling and working along the Mississippi. the busy scene captures a steamboat, railcars, houses, and a station, all positioned around a small port. From Bluffs at Merrimac records the flow of the river and the foliage that comprised a portion of its ecosystem. the first manifestations of Western human intervention—boundary lines and mowed grass—are included in the foreground. the prints in views, when seen beside each other or within a published reproduction of one of Bosse’s original albums, together form a map-like narrative of the exploration and transformation of the great upper half of the river.
Both U.s. steamlaunch “louise” and From Bluffs at Merrimac are largescale oval cyanotype prints. these photographs depict scenes of the Mississippi river in the late nineteenth century. they are meticulous, wellconstructed images. they have few flaws and were carefully edited by the artist to obscure imperfections. in the case of U.s. steamlaunch “louise,” for example, there are small, difficult-to-discern white gaps in the lower left section of the print that were covered by Bosse with blue dye. From Bluffs at Merrimac takes an elevated view down onto the river whereas U.s. steamlaunch “louise” was composed from closer to water level. Both have some human subjects, but they are small and seen at a distance. the photographs depict both natural and industrial forms. From Bluffs at Merrimac contains almost only vegetation, water, and sky while U.s. steamlaunch “louise” makes the boat and human settlement central.
As some historians of photography have argued, the invention and early development of photography contributed to a broader intellectual shift in which humans began to find nature comprehensible.3 landscape photography, especially, was a means of capturing and ordering wild forms.4 Bosse certainly imposed some order on nature, both in the framing of these wide, sprawling vistas and in his meticulous printing. However, he subverted that triumph of logic in his choice to frame his prints in an unusual oval shape and also in his decision to print the landscapes in Prussian blue. in using the blue-toned printing process, Bosse prioritized the expressive qualities of his photographs over the reportorial qualities. He was an engineer and, therefore, no stranger to blueprints; the cyanotype process would have been familiar to him through his work with the Corps of Engineers. But he was also an artist. He saw the creative potential of this technological device, and he applied an expressive hand to the blue printing process.
Not long after immigrating to the United states from Prussia, Bosse began work as a draftsman for the U.s. Army Corps of Engineers. He was hired to survey the upper Mississippi river, between Minnesota and Missouri. the prints in the 1893 album are a compilation of the photographs he took during this expedition.2 Because the prints communicate a great deal about the physical nature of the river valley and the ways that industrialization transformed the land, they are reportorial. Bosse produced the prints at a time when relatively few other Westerners had explored this territory. Most had
the sentimentality of U.s. steamlaunch “louise” and From Bluffs at Merrimac is rooted in the expressive qualities of these photographs—specifically, in the blueness of Bosse’s prints and his treatment of human subjects. in his 1914 essay in Popular Photography, B. H. Wike posited that landscapes containing proportionately high amounts of water and foliage were the most appropriate candidates for printing in blue. Cyanotype printing enhanced these subjects because there is a natural presence of this hue in trees, water,
Fig. 20: Henry Bosse, American, born germany, 1844-1903, U.s. steamlaunch “louise” near Keokuk, iA, 1885, cyanotype, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Edward J. and Mary s. Holmes Fund, 2010.504 40
and rocks.5 the abundance of water, foliage, and sky certainly make the blueness of From Bluffs at Merrimac and U.s. steamlaunch “louise” appropriate. in this same essay, however, Wike problematized making cyanotypes out of negatives that featured human subjects. He wrote that unless the people in an image were of secondary importance, these negatives should not be printed as cyanotypes.6 thus, the human beings positioned and portrayed in these two Bosse prints do not wear blueness as naturally as the trees and water do. in U.s. steamlaunch “louise,” the workmen are far enough away to be almost indistinguishable from the scenery. yet on close examination, it is clear that they pose proudly for the camera. in From Bluffs at Merrimac, a man stands toward the center of the frame, facing the river. it appears Bosse consciously positioned people as subjects within these scenes, but they are distant enough to be devoid of individual identities. Each subject simply seems to represent a type of person belonging to a certain time, place, and feeling.
Charles Wehrenberg, Mississippi Blue: Henry P. Bosse and His Views on the Mississippi River Between Minneapolis and St. Louis, 1883–1891 (santa Fe, NM: twin Palms, 2001); Henry P. Bosse, U.S. Steamlaunch “Louise” acquisition file, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Mark Neuzil, Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry P. Bosse (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 29-30.
Karen Hellman and Brett Abbott, Landscape in Photographs (los Angeles: J. Paul getty Museum, 2012).
Neuzil, Views on the Mississippi.
B. H. Wike, “Choice of Papers,” Popular Photography (July 1914): 415.
U.s. steamlaunch “louise” and From Bluffs at Merrimac are round windows into Bosse’s world. they express all of the appreciation for the Mississippi, and the communities working on it and living beside it, that Bosse felt as he spent years traveling up and down the river. He impressed nostalgia upon the scenes, and these prints are keepsakes as much as they are art. Contemporary viewers feel that nostalgia doubly: they read the artist’s tenderness toward the river and his experiences on it, and they also long for the thrilling aspects of the lives of engineers in the Midwest at the turn of the twentieth century. to Bosse and his peers, the country constantly generated inspiration. the land was full of untapped potential, and life on the river was an awe-inspiring human adventure. When audiences first peer through the oval frames of U.s. steamlaunch “louise” and From Bluffs at Merrimac, their instinctive response is emotive. they are moved to reminisce.
Fig. 21: Henry Bosse, American, born germany, 1844-1903, From Bluffs at Merrimac, Minnesota, 1891, cyanotype, Courtesy of Elizabeth and Michael Marcus 43
F r E D E r i C K C o U l s o N : A rt o r E v i D E N C E rachel Polinsky ’16
rederick Coulson’s cyanotypes merge the artistic and evidentiary values of photography. Art historians have long debated whether photography is better understood as art or as evidence. While some of Coulson’s works, such as an untitled photograph of an unknown plant from 1894 (fig. 22), have a purely artistic nature, others, such as an untitled work of a pelican flower from 1904 (fig. 23), have a subtle evidentiary value. The intimate yet reportorial qualities of his collective works drive the notion of “art first, evidence second” into focus.
indicating that bugs have eaten them; this small detail enhances our sense that the plant is an actual living organism. Coulson placed the plant in front of a white sheet or a blank wall. This background as well as the bright lighting confirm that Coulson carefully staged the scene. The light blue tones of the cyanotype may be a consequence of over exposure from artificial light sources in the making of the negative or underexposure to ultraviolet light when making the print. Figure 22 demonstrates Coulson’s need to control the scene in front of his camera, emphasizing his artistic vision over a desire for documentation.
Coulson was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1869. He was the eldest child of John and Mary Coulson and had two brothers and three sisters.1 In 1876 the Coulson family moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, when John was hired as the head gardener for the estate of Stephen Salisbury III. In his early teens, Coulson became a member of the Worcester Natural History Society, where he took summer classes on photography taught by John M. Bemis. From 1893 to 1910, he worked as an architectural draftsman for George Clemence in the Walker Building, home to offices of several other commercial photographers and architects in downtown Worcester. The year 1904 was big for Coulson; in addition to marrying Lulu Alice Morgan on June 2, he was featured in Worcester Art Museum’s first annual photography exhibition.2 Three of his photographs were displayed, but it is unknown whether any were cyanotypes.3 In 1911 Coulson established his own architectural practice.4 His career as an architectural draftsman making blueprints intersected with his cyanotype work, as the processes were identical. His cyanotypes have three main subjects: people, architecture, and plants. He usually labeled them with a date—though he occasionally left them blank— and rarely did he include any additional information.
The 1904 photograph depicts an aristolochia grandiflora, or pelican flower, which is native to Central and South America; this plant, along with many others, was evidence of Stephen Salisbury’s trips to obtain exotic vegetation for his greenhouses (fig. 23).7 Coulson focused on the frontal leaf face and positioned the camera to frame the entire blossom. Unlike the subject in figure 22, this plant is slightly off center, indicating that Coulson may have had greater difficulty shaping the scene as he wished. Pelican flowers are hanging plants and, given their size, mass of vines, and leaves, are not easily moved. Indeed, hidden behind the blossom and leaves, there is a white pole slightly off center in the photograph. Coulson perhaps adjusted the leaves to conceal the pole since he could not move the plant. There is a white wall molding in the upper left-hand corner, indicating the plant was photographed at its original location on the Salisbury estate. While Coulson used a white sheet as a backdrop in figure 22, figure 23 has a dark background. The contrast between the white molding and the dark wall emphasizes the stark contrasts within the blossom itself, which exhibits tonal gradations from deep blue to almost white.
It is difficult to identify the plant in the 1894 image because of its pruned orblike form and the cyanotype’s radical cropping; it is possibly a dwarf beech tree (fig. 22).5 Coulson did not include the trunk of the tree, instead making the spherical bush the main focus. The plant is almost a perfect circle, centered within the rectangular frame.6 There are small holes in the leaves,
In his biography of Coulson, art historian James Welu characterized the botanical cyanotypes as important documentation for his father’s work rather than evidence of Coulson’s own artistic expression and exploration.8 While cyanotypes were indeed commonly used to record botanical specimens in the nineteenth century, we have evidence in the form of at least two
Fig. 22: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931, Untitled, July 1, 1894, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza s. Paine Fund, 2010.271.28 44
publications that John Coulson himself photographed and documented his own botanical work.9 Frederick Coulson’s cyanotypes, in contrast, lack information including species, location, and description, suggesting he lacked specific interest in scientific documentation. Moreover, Coulson framed his negatives in ways that purposely limit viewers’ access to visual information. As art historian John Szarkowski wrote about the photograph’s power to crop out the world, “the central act of photography, the act of choosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge—the line that separates in from out—and on the shapes that are created by it.”10 Figure 22 only includes a specific portion of the plant, which both obscures its identity and emphasizes its geometric form. The pelican flower is the focus of figure 23, whose subtle tones stand out against the dark background. Coulson’s decision to preserve and crop out specific features instructs the viewer on what is important. Coulson’s cyanotypes exist on two levels: artistic and evidentiary. While the primary goal of his work was artistic, there remains a desire to record coursing through the photographs. Coulson did not provide information about the species or habitation requirements of the plants he photographed, but he did document their existence as living things. Figure 22 captures the partially eaten leaves of the plant, testament to its life-sustaining properties for an insect. Figure 23 records the existence of a foreign plant living and thriving in Worcester. Coulson documented these plants in an unorthodox fashion, providing evidence of their life while excluding basic information that might allow one to categorize them scientifically. The lack of such identifying information underscores the primary nature of Coulson’s cyanotypes as art.
James Welu, Frederick Coulson: Blueprints of a Golden Age (Worcester, MA: Worcester Art Museum, 2015), 11–12. Coulson’s family tree provided by Kathy Bell, librarian at Tower Hill Botanical Garden and Worcester Horticultural Society.
Welu, Frederick Coulson, 12–13.
Archival document about Coulson’s submissions in the 1904 Amateur Photographers Exhibition, Worcester Art Museum archives. The titles of Coulson’s submissions were An Old New England Cider Mill; Sunset in the Pasture; and One of Nature Nooks[?].
Welu, Frederick Coulson, 12–13. Architectural blueprints by Coulson for the Worcester Historical Society building, Bell Pond, and E. T. Smith Company parking garage provided by Robyn Conroy, librarian at Worcester Historical Society and Museum. Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, 1926–1932 (Worcester, MA: Worcester County Horticultural Society).
Kathy Bell, librarian at Tower Hill Botanical Garden and Worcester Horticultural Society, email message to author October 3, 2015.
This design is reminiscent of the Pazzi Chapel’s floor plan, which Coulson may have known, given his architectural background.
Kathy Bell, librarian at Tower Hill Botanical Garden and Worcester Horticultural Society, email message to author October 6, 2015.
Welu, Frederick Coulson, 13.
Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher, eds., Ocean Flowers: Impressions from Nature (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004), 73; John Coulson, Begonias: Photographs and Descriptions (Worcester, MA: printed by author, c. 1892–1897); John Coulson, Impressions of Plants Mentioned in Gray’s Revised Botany of 1868 (Worcester, MA: printed by author, n.d.).
John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966), 9.
Although Coulson’s botanical cyanotypes are indexical records of the plants they portray, his work should not be limited to documentary status. Coulson created a unique narrative within each cyanotype that depicts the truth and beauty of the natural world. As he composed his images, he framed the plants in a way that balanced aesthetics and evidence, art and life.
Fig. 23: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931, Untitled, June 7, 1904, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza s. Paine Fund, 2010.270.125 47
E A s t M E E t s W E s t: D o W A N D J A PA N Hannah Millen ’16
rthur Wesley Dow was a groundbreaking printmaker, a teacher at many reputable art institutions, and a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A lesser known aspect of his artistic practice was his photography. Dow took countless photographs during his lifetime, and he saved many of his cyanotypes in his own personal collection. He was fascinated by elements of Japanese art, which he used as a model across all media throughout his career. in the cyanotypes two vases with irises and Flowers with Pods, he used the Japanese concept of notan, as well as Japanese principles of color and line usage, to transcend the boundaries between the artificial and natural worlds (figs. 24, 25). Dow was born in 1857 in ipswich, Massachusetts. Following many other young American artists, he traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian in 1884.1 it was there that Dow realized his attachment to landscape painting, a genre he went on to explore in various media during his long career.2 While he was in France, he attended an exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints organized by Paul gauguin. initially, Dow felt little inspiration from the prints; he did not appreciate their style and would not until the 1890s.3 in 1891, however, Dow came across a book of Hokusai prints in the Boston Public library that entranced him. After this discovery, he became a major proponent of what he understood to be Japanese style. He believed that Japanese art was simple and direct, driven by formal structure and composition.4 these ideas, along with others, would create the basis of Dow’s treatise Composition, first published in 1899. in Composition, Dow argued that the academies in Paris and Europe were biased in the art they taught because they ignored all non-Western art.5 He opposed imitative teaching, stating that it did not help students to copy old masters. rather, he felt that it was more important to focus on the “rhythmic harmony” of scenes, which could be found by studying the patterns of nature.6 Dow argued that the foundation of art was composition,
light, and overall design.7 the major principle that he took from Japanese art was the aesthetic concept of notan, which he defined as the “harmony resulting from the combination of dark and light spaces.”8 Dow claimed that the creation of “good” color in a work was dependent on the proper use of notan; in fact, without notan he believed it was impossible to create a successful composition.9 Dow used many of the principles described in Composition in his own photography and printmaking. Around 1890 he began making photographs of the ipswich area, including cityscapes and landscapes, primarily for personal use.10 Despite being an amateur photographer, he saw photography as a fine art form and recognized its merits.11 Dow made photographs as stand-alone works of art and as studies for his woodblock prints and paintings.12 As Barbara Michaels states in her essay “Arthur Wesley Dow and Photography,” Dow chose the cyanotype process because he favored its blue tones, a color also prominent in his paintings and prints. While other photographers rejected the cyanotype, “Dow had the imagination to feature it.”13 it was through the cyanotype process that he produced two vases with irises and Flowers with Pods.
two vases with irises was probably made around 1900 (fig. 24). it features a botanical subject that has been removed from its natural setting and placed in front of a rough, burlap-like backdrop, contrasting the living flowers with a background of dead space. there are three fresh irises contained in two vases. the diagonal from the flower in the right vase intersects with the flower in the left, creating a dynamic tension in the composition, which Dow called opposition.14 Dow arranged the flowers in this configuration to draw the viewer’s eye from the tallest iris blossom downward in a fluid motion to the other flowers. the lighting in this photograph hits the flowers head on and casts few shadows. Because the singular iris shadow is directly behind the flower on the left, the blossoms almost
Fig. 24: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857-1922, two vases with irises, about 1900, cyanotype, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents Frank and Anne Wigglesworth in memory of their love for ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.160 48
seem to jump off the page. otherwise, the strongest tonal contrasts appear between the white blossoms and their dark stems. Perhaps inspired by his interest in notan, Dow manipulated composition and light to create a dynamic image of flowers in an artificial environment.
While irises is a staged scene, Flowers with Pods shows flowers in their natural setting (fig. 25). the whole composition is on an angle; the blossoms are shown on a slight diagonal amidst a thick underbrush of other plants, which are also slightly titled off axis. Dow manipulated the scene in order to produce an image that complemented his theories of Japanese art by framing the photograph at an atypical angle, probably achieved by crouching down while tilting the camera up. With the stronger juxtaposition of light and shadow in this photograph, notan is more severe here than in irises. the natural light in this scene makes the shadows darker and the highlights brighter. in fact, the dark background, despite it different textures, enhances the brightness of the blossoms and appears to flatten them. this flattening of form and space echoes the style of the Japanese prints that Dow studied.
two vases with irises and Flowers with Pods demonstrate how Dow translated the Japanese elements of style in notan from woodblock prints to photography. in addition, these photographs show how Japanese aesthetics could be used on both natural and artificial subjects. Dow manipulated both photographs to achieve what he believed was “true” art—art that sent a direct message of beauty and harmony to the viewer through composition, line, and light.
trevor Fairbrother, ipswich Days: Arthur Wesley Dow and His Hometown (New Haven, Ct: yale University Press, 2007), 10–11.
Nancy E. green and Jessie Poesch, Arthur Wesley Dow and American Arts and Crafts (New york: American Federation of Arts, 1999), 59.
green and Poesch, Arthur Wesley Dow, 60–61; Nancy E. green, Arthur Wesley Dow and His influence (New york: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 1990), 7–8.
green, Arthur Wesley Dow, 9.
Arthur Wesley Dow, Composition: a series of exercises in art structure for the use of students and teachers, 9th ed. (New york: Doubleday, 1919), 64.
Frederick C. Moffatt, “Composition,” in Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922): His Art and influence, ed. Nancy E. green (New york: spanierman gallery, 1999), 39.
richard Boyle, “Arthur Wesley Dow: American sensei,” in Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922): His Art and influence, ed. Nancy E. green (New york: spanierman gallery, 1999), 81.
Dow, Composition, 67.
green, Arthur Wesley Dow, 76.
Barbara Michaels, “Arthur Wesley Dow and Photography,” in Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922): His Art and influence, ed. Nancy E. green (New york: spanierman gallery, 1999), 85. Michaels reproduces another version of Worcester Art Museum’s Flowers with Pods in her discussion of Dow’s use of the cyanotype. in this other version, Dow likely exposed the cyanotype for a shorter amount of time since the blue tones are significantly lighter. ibid., 84, fig. 66.
Dow, Composition, 79.
Fig. 25: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857-1922, Flowers with Pods, about 1900, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, sarah C. garver Fund, 1997.74 51
lACE: AN iMPriNt oF tHE PAst Mary iorio ’17
ace—a sheer, patterned textile often used for decoration—has a history that goes back as far as the late fifteenth century.1 Made of thread that is twisted and stitched into a complicated pattern, lace is used for items as varied as veils, clothing ornament, or tablecloths.2 Although lace is still made by hand today using the needle or bobbin method, the introduction of machine-manufactured lace in the nineteenth century transformed the textile’s production.3 the two cyanotype lace samples included in this exhibition probably came from France and were made around 1905; they depict two distinct patterns, one more abstract and the other likely from the Point ground family (figs. 26, 27). these once functional physical remnants of lace are tangible examples of decorating styles from over one hundred years ago and now might be considered art themselves. As photograms, the two prints are one-to-one representations of the lace. to create these cyanotypes, the maker laid the piece of lace on a prepared piece of paper and then placed it into direct sunlight for at least a half an hour. once fully exposed, the paper was removed from the sunlight, the lace pieces were taken off, and the paper was rinsed.4 this process created an imprint of the lace samples directly on the paper. the larger of the two cyanotypes has a lighter blue section that encompasses the major leafand-vine design and a darker blue area below it that records the netting or mesh (fig. 26). the lace represented in the lighter area seems to have been translucent since the paper clearly recorded some light. the area recording the mesh is much darker; it must have been fairly sheer and made up of many small pentagon holes that allowed more light to reach the paper. it is evident that this cyanotype captures only a corner of the piece of lace because the design continues off the left side of the paper. this photogram has a two-dimensional leaf-and-flower arabesque pattern; the vines and leaves weave in and around one another, creating a seemingly endless flowing pattern that is stopped only by the edge of the lighter blue section.
the second lace sample cyanotype has a very different design (fig. 27). it features an interconnected floral pattern that is much less abstract than the design of the first. it also has a greater difference in hues of blue. the areas where the design is almost white indicate a thicker, more densely woven piece. the scalloped design along the bottom of the paper indicates the border of the piece of lace, but the pattern continues beyond the left and right edges of the paper. this second sample may be part of the Point ground family of lace, which is characterized by a light and open design with floral patterns.5 Based on the patterns in both cyanotypes, these samples were probably machine made.6 lace historians have several theories about the function of these cyanotypes. Blueprints of lace have been used as patterns for pricking cards; these are essentially lace templates that have many small holes through which one uses a needle to sew along the pattern.7 this is an unlikely explanation of the use of these cyanotypes because neither has any holes. A more plausible theory is that they were used by a lace manufacturer to record different available patterns and were perhaps pages of a pattern book.8 However, because of the absence of the complete lace pattern, it seems unlikely that they would have been helpful for recording purposes. Close inspection of these cyanotypes reveals many imperfections that reveal their purpose as functional objects created for reference rather than for decoration. For example, in the top right corner of figure 26, the mesh was folded over, creating a rumpled pattern. in addition, the edges of both samples are quite ragged, as though cut without care. the treated paper and lace samples do not even seem to be aligned, which further suggests that they were made in haste. Finally, glitches in the physical paper abound. A few marks and discolorations near the shorter sides of both samples may be residue from an adhesive that was imperfectly applied when the lace was attached to the paper. Both cyanotypes are also heavily
Fig. 26: French, lace sample, about 1905, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, sarah C. garver Fund, 2015.45 52
creased, indicating that they were folded multiple times. such treatment would be unlikely for a print considered to be a work of art. in the early twentieth century, these cyanotypes were not seen as works of art but had a functional purpose. today the reverse is true. the swirling patterns and minute details make them aesthetically pleasing. in addition, the objects teach us about the era in which they were created: the patterns suggest a more elaborate decorating style—and perhaps everyday lifestyle—than is common today. the cyanotypes are shadows created from lost objects and thus are direct links to the past. they are more tactile and immediate than a painting from the same era because they act as physical evidence of lace that did exist.
Clare Browne, Lace from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London: V&A Publications, 2004), 8.
Santina M. Levey, Lace: A History (Wakefield, UK: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983), 1.
Browne, Lace from the Victoria and Albert Museum, 14.
Peter Mrhar, Cyanotype: Historical and Alternative Photography (n.p.: printed by author, 2013), 38.
Kim Davis, International Organization of Lace, Inc., e-mail messages to author, October 29 and November 2, 2015; Pompi Parry, The Lace Society, e-mail message to author, October 28, 2015; Pat Earnshaw, The Identification of Lace (Oxford: Shire, 1980), 22.
Davis, e-mail message to author; Parry, e-mail message to author.
Pat Earnshaw, A Dictionary of Lace (New York: Dover, 1999), 120–22.
Davis, e-mail message to author.
See Mehran Mehrdad Ali’s “Kasten’s Abstract Documentation” in this volume.
these cyanotypes raise issues that resonate with other pieces in this exhibition. like the lace samples, the body slices were made to be purely functional, serving as a resource for medical students studying the human anatomy (see figs. 34, 35). in contrast, Barbara Kasten’s cyanotype was created as art and not for a specific function (see fig. 36). Her cyanotype parallels the lace samples because she produced it by purposely scrunching up and distorting pieces of fiberglass mesh.9 All of these cyanotypes are highly tactile, as there is visible evidence of the material used to create the works. they are physical remnants of moments in history, one from the beginning of the twentieth century and the other occurring seventy years later. What makes these lace cyanotypes distinctive is that they are unintentional art. they were originally created for a functional purpose by an unknown lace maker but now can be viewed as artwork in their own right.
Fig. 27: French, lace sample, about 1905, cyanotype, Courtesy of lee gallery 55
D Ay ’ s r E F l E C t i o N s o N t H E H A r B o r Hannah Jaffe ’16
and and water become intertwined in Fred Holland Day’s expressive, Prussian blue photograph little good Harbor, Maine (fig. 28). in this cyanotype, there are passages in which the trees and shrubbery on the land cannot be discerned from their reflection in the water beneath them; in other passages, the reflections have more distinct forms than the objects they mirror. little good Harbor served as a retreat for Day and his friends because of its isolation, far from the tumult of city life. He explored the idea of retreat in this photograph by transforming the harbor’s natural landscape into a sublime alternate reality. the ethereal quality of this cyanotype brings the viewer into another world just as its setting did for Day. Born in Norwood, Massachusetts, in 1864, Day was a philanthropist, photographer, publisher, and prominent figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. in 1893 he established his own publishing company, bringing into print books by authors such as oscar Wilde and louise imogen guiney, one of his close friends.1 in the 1880s and 1890s, he made many of his artworld connections and friendships, including a relationship with the visionists, a group of aspiring artists and writers.2 His friends from those formative years eventually began to accompany him on trips to Five islands, Maine, where they sought retreat and experimented with art and photography. Day’s affinity for Five islands began in 1897, when guiney bought a home in the harbor. Naming it “Castle guiney,” Day and his circle regarded their friend’s home as a sanctuary away from the frenzy and chaos of city life. in a letter to Day, guiney described little good Harbor as a “wild place which i shall dearly love until it begins to civilize.” 3 Day’s cyanotype little good Harbor, Maine frames the view from the inlet of the harbor out toward the larger expanse of water. A house sits atop the hill in the upper left corner as a boat rests in the water beneath it. According to art historian Patricia J. Fanning, the house is likely guiney’s, bought by Day in 1909. the lack of pergola and no evidence of a dock under construction indicate that this photograph was taken before Day began work on the property in 1910; such details help to better approximate a date for the
photograph.4 trees and shrubbery surround Castle guiney, and other islands can be seen in the distance. the harbor appears calm yet full of life with its dynamic forms and abundance of greenery. it was this setting that served as a source of inspiration for Day and functioned as a backdrop in many of his photographs. As one of the first Pictorialists—a group of photographers who sought to create expressive photographs that could be considered fine art—he valued the ethereal quality of little good Harbor. the harbor lifted his photographs beyond the realm of the quotidian and transformed them into an expressive Arcadia as he garnished his nude male sitters with shepherd’s staffs, bows, arrows, and grapes. Many of these sitters also had experience beyond the camera; for example, Day’s friend Clarence White established a school for photography in little good Harbor, and several of Day’s sitters attended.5 little good Harbor was therefore the home for a variety of artists, from amateur photographers such as White’s students to writers such as guiney. it was a world detached from regular life for Day, his friends, and his sitters. Day’s cyanotype of this landscape captures the ethereal quality that is characteristic of Five islands. Just as the place does, this cyanotype transcends the humdrum and discord of life and situates the viewer in a world that eclipses reality. the hazy quality of the image gives the entire photograph the appearance of a reflection. this, in combination with its blue hue, makes the cyanotype appear as though it has been submerged in water. in the upper left side of the image, the land and its reflection in the water merge together and form a misty triangular shape, which creates balance in the composition, as another triangular shape appears in the bottom right corner. little good Harbor served as a peaceful retreat for its visitors, and this print is no different; the compositional balance that exists within the photograph soothes the viewer. this tranquility works in tandem with the celestial qualities of the image, submerging the viewer into a universe beyond the photograph.
Fig. 28: Fred Holland Day, American, 1864-1933, little good Harbor, Maine, 1905-1912, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, sarah C. garver Fund, 2015.42 56
During this era, cyanotypes were often used as a proofing method before the final platinum or gelatin silver print was made.6 However, it is highly likely that this cyanotype was not a proof and was, in fact, Day’s final product. the darker blue dots flecked throughout the bottom half of the image seem to be retouches by Day himself, as the work has a direct provenance from Day’s estate.7 given these corrections, the image was meant to be blue—otherwise, why correct a proof? Because sky and water are blue, the hue of the photograph adds to its realism. However, because photographs during the early twentieth century were typically black and white, the blue in this work appears false and miraculous. the color thus enhances the expressiveness of the photograph as Day captured a scene that he believed to be extraordinary and otherworldly. this print depicts little good Harbor in the actual color of the sky and water and also evokes its metaphorical loftiness.
over a century later, Meghann riepenhoff created her cyanotype littoral Drift #3 in rodeo Beach, California, by directly submerging paper into the ocean (fig. 29). the residue from the water stippled the page, leaving a mesmerizing image. Because she never completely fixed these cyanotypes, they continue to change over time and react to the environment surrounding them, “blurring the line between creation and destruction” and perhaps reminding the viewer of life’s fragile beauty.8 the similarities between this work and little good Harbor, Maine are abundant. Although Day, unlike riepenhoff, used a camera to capture the scene before him, his final image is murky, enchanting, and almost abstract. it looks as if it were submerged in water whereas littoral Drift #3 actually was. in riepenhoff’s work, the dips and curves of the blue-speckled mass in the lower part of the image contrast against the indigo backdrop and mimic the dips and curves of the land in little good Harbor, Maine. Both images convey the wonder of nature, showing that even that which comes from earth can create that which appears to go beyond.
Patricia J. Fanning, through an Uncommon lens: the life and Photography of F. Holland Day (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), 1–7.
Day famously declined joining Alfred stieglitz’s Photo-secessionists because of disagreements with stieglitz.
Fanning, through an Uncommon lens, 202–4.
Patricia J. Fanning, e-mail message to author, November 30, 2015.
Patricia g. Berman, “F. Holland Day and his ‘classical’ models,” History of Photography 18, no. 4 (December 1994): 349–51. Berman notes that White’s photography school was perhaps inspired by Arthur Wesley Dow, who was teaching art in ipswich, Massachusetts, at the time.
John A. tennant, “the ‘Blue Print’ and its variations,” Photo-Miniature (January 1900): 481–82.
Worcester Art Museum purchased little good Harbor, Maine from the lee gallery, who acquired the object directly from Day’s estate. therefore, this object probably never saw an outside conservator, meaning that these corrective marks were likely made by Day. Fred Holland Day object file, Worcester Art Museum.
Meghann riepenhoff, “littoral Drift,” Meghann Junell riepenhoff: Fine Art, accessed october 29, 2015, http://meghannriepenhoff.com/changing-pictures-working-title/.
Fanning, through an Uncommon lens, 1.
Day’s work is timeless, sharing qualities with more contemporary works such as riepenhoff’s littoral Drift #3. Day saw photography as the “wield[ing] of a sunbeam” and hoped to paint a picture with his camera, capturing little good Harbor as he saw it: celestial and otherworldly.9 Just as the small harbor in Maine transcended reality for Day, the cyanotype transcends reality for the viewer.
Fig. 29: Meghann riepenhoff, American, born 1979, littoral Drift #3 (rodeo Beach, CA), June 13, 2013, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, Funded by the Douglas Cox and Edward osowski Fund for Photography in memory of robert A. royka (1933–1996) and Margaret Kent royka, 2015.44 © Meghann riepenhof
P r o o F i N g C U rt i s ’ s P r o o F s grant Henry ’17
o Edward sheriff Curtis, the cyanotype had little artistic value. His heart was elsewhere—in gold-tone prints. With the gold-tone process (or curt-tone, as he tried to name the process he pioneered), Curtis’s photographs were illuminated by a rich yellow that contrasted the cyanotype’s humble blue. When publishing his photographs in books, Curtis used the photogravure process to engrave his images, and these prints were also tinted a gold color.1 in the early twentieth century, photographers like Curtis preferred to use cyanotypes to proof their negatives. Curtis made cyanotypes from his negatives while out in the field; if he liked how the image came out, he would send the negative to his studio to be printed later. As a result, he created thousands of cyanotypes in his career, including Clayoquot shaman Woman (fig. 30). Although this blue print portrays a shaman with her cedar-bark outfit, it lacks the dramatic contrast in light that Curtis was famous for. sadly, we will never know what Curtis could have done with the cyanotype process at its full potential, but the existence of proofs like these provides an excellent opportunity to compare the rough drafts to their final versions. in fact, when looking at Curtis’s scrapped cyanotype alongside its published version, we can see that the cyanotype is actually superior to the published photograph as an anthropological record of Native American cultures.
Clayoquot shaman Woman was taken as part of Curtis’s twenty-three-year endeavor to create an ethnological encyclopedia of Native American cultures along the West Coast before their potential extinction by industrialization. He filled twenty volumes of what he eventually titled the North American indian with information on the languages, religious customs, and political and social organizations of numerous Native American nations. in addition, he took glass-plate negatives of Native Americans that were printed alongside his text.2
Curtis made this photograph around 1915 while studying the Nootka nations in western British Columbia; this material went into the North American indian’s eleventh volume.3 the cyanotype portrays a kneeling shaman in an elaborate cedar-bark dress. the woven pattern of the skirt continues to her headdress, which also sports several bright white feathers. Her entire body, save for her face and arms, is covered by the costume. Although her arms are brightly illuminated, her face is obscured by the shadow of the headdress. the shade of blue created by this shadow also appears in the dark background surrounding her. Most of the photograph is slightly blurred, except for her left hand, face, and a prominent feather on top of her head. Her right hand extends beyond the frame, gripping some kind of cloth. Among the Nootka, it was common for both women and men to be shamans. Both performed the same duties of general medical care and were involved in spirit ceremonies. Female shamans had several additional roles in society, such as assisting daughters of chiefs when giving birth and participating in coming-of-age rituals for girls.4 the particular shaman portrayed in this cyanotype appears in at least two photographs in volume eleven. Both seem to have been taken in the same photography session. the first is titled shaman and Patient and depicts the shaman singing to a woman covered in a blanket.5 the second photograph, Costume of a woman shaman - Clayoquot, is remarkably similar in content to the cyanotype (fig. 31). Both the cyanotype and the published version feature the shaman seated and centered while facing the camera, but the final image is a close-up portrait of her face. Curtis clearly took several photographs from different angles and conditions to find the best possible lighting. Beyond camera placement, the final version most differs from the cyanotype in its greater level of focus. in the photogravure, the shaman’s wrinkles and stern expression are much clearer, as is the texture of her costume. Curtis seems to have abandoned the costume itself as the focus of the piece and, instead, created a portrait of the woman herself.
Fig. 30: Edward sheriff Curtis, American, 1868-1952, Clayoquot shaman Woman, about 1915, cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, sarah C. garver Fund, 2004.109 60
After finishing his photography session with the shaman, Curtis likely created cyanotypes from his negatives and then evaluated which ones to include in the North American indian. Between these two versions of the shaman woman, Curtis probably chose the second image for a couple reasons: the superior lighting and focus as well as the clarity in the woman’s mesmerizing expression. it is indeed a fantastic portrait, but we should remember that this image was intended as an illustration for an anthropology textbook. in a book like the North American indian, a photograph should function as more than a work of art. As an anthropological document, the cyanotype is more valuable than the gold-tone image because it portrays the woman’s costume in its entirety. scholars can easily observe how the bark is woven more loosely in the skirt than on the torso and how the skirt is made of multiple layers of bark. Cedar was an important crafting material in Nootkan culture, as anthropologist Philip Drucker described: “From the time the newborn baby infant’s body was dried with wisps of shredded cedar bark, and he was laid in a cradle padded with the same material and his head was flattened by the roll of it, he used articles of these materials every day in his life, until he was finally rolled up and in an old cedar-bark mat for burial.”6 A photograph that focuses on a complete Nootka cedar-bark outfit should have been the preferred choice for Curtis, especially over one that depicts only the wearer’s face. the cyanotype also provides information about where this scene occurred, thanks to the plant life surrounding the shaman. the shaman’s face might be tougher to read in the cyanotype, but the blue print has the advantage of context and informational value.
Christopher M. lyman, the vanishing race and other illusions: Photographs of indians by Edward s. Curtis (Washington, DC: smithsonian institute Press, 1982), 58.
timothy Egan, short Nights of the shadow Catcher: the Epic life and immortal Photography of Edward Curtis (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012).
Edward s. Curtis, the North American indian: being a series of volumes picturing and describing the indians of the United states and Alaska, vol. 11 (seattle, WA: printed by author, 1907–1930).
Philip Drucker, Northern and Central Nootka tribes (Washington, DC: smithsonian, 1951), 123, 137.
Curtis, the North American indian, facing p. 56.
Drucker, Northern and Central Nootka tribes, 93.
Curtis’s final version of Costume of a woman shaman is a good example of the problems that arise when illustrating a nonfiction book with art photographs. As a committed Pictorialist, Curtis would often let his aesthetic tastes, emotions, and political beliefs influence his photography. in choosing to publish the gold-tone Costume of a woman shaman, he sacrificed valuable content in favor of an emotionally powerful image. Curtis tried to play the role of both artist and anthropologist simultaneously while creating the North American indian, and he instead performed each with conflicts of interest. He wanted both to immortalize a culture’s humanity through photography and to inform future academics about that culture through historical record. thanks to surviving cyanotypes like Worcester’s Clayoquot shaman Woman, we have greater insight into Curtis’s priorities when it came to his photography.
Fig. 31: Edward sheriff Curtis, American, 1868-1952, Costume of a woman shaman - Clayoquot, 1915, photogravure in brown ink, from the North American indian (1907-1930) v.11, the Nootka. the Haida, 1916, Facing page 54. image courtesy of the Charles Deering McCormick library of special Collections, Northwestern University library, not in exhibition.
U N r Av E l i N g s t E i C H E N ’ s J E A N s i M P s o N i N P r o F i l E Nancy Kathryn Burns, Philip Klausmeyer, and Eliza spaulding
dward steichen’s Jean simpson in Profile from 1923 was identified as a carbro print when the Worcester Art Museum acquired it in 1986 (fig. 32). However, growing uncertainty about its medium, combined with the fact that steichen was famously experimental, catalyzed its reexamination beginning in spring 2015.1
the photograph is composed of two layers: the majority of the picture is a dark brown tonality over a blue tonality. Blue is most prominent at the edges, but also appears as tiny inflections within the image. the entire surface of the photograph has a slight sheen, and a fine craquelure network appears throughout (fig. 33). x-ray fluorescence (xrF) analysis performed at the Worcester Art Museum confirms that the brown layer contains palladium, and the blue layer contains iron. Both these findings support a proposal that the photograph is a palladium print over a cyanotype. However, the slight sheen and craquelure pattern evident throughout are atypical of traditional palladium or cyanotype processes. initial analysis of the palladium image using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (Ftir) detected close similarities to gum Arabic, rayon (a modified cellulose), and methyl cellulose; of the three, the similarities to rayon and methyl cellulose were the closest. in 1906, Japine Platinotype paper was introduced, which was chemically treated (and therefore similar to rayon) to create a parchmentized surface that ranged from matte to glossy, an appealing option to photographers who desired an enhanced surface for their images. Popular among steichen’s circle, it seems likely that he also used it for Jean simpson in Profile, lending the picture its delicate sheen.2 if the print were a carbro, xrF and Ftir analysis would have detected silver and gelatin, respectively.3 the subject of the photograph, Jean simpson, was the only child of New york society elites John Woodruff simpson and Kate simpson. steichen featured Jean in several portraits over decades. in 1923, steichen made multiple portraits of then-twenty-six-year-old Jean, two of which are variants of each other: the palladium and cyanotype Worcester portrait,
Jean simpson in Profile, and the palladium smithsonian American Art portrait, Jean simpson. steichen cropped the smithsonian portrait, which is almost identical in size to Worcester’s, at the bottom of her necklace, and added a signature and date in roman numerals on the negative. in the Worcester print, steichen included simpson’s hands, and it is unsigned.4 the variants between the 1923 portraits are a valuable comparison, highlighting steichen’s use of palladium, which supports the new identification of the Worcester portrait’s medium, and confirming the artist’s interest in experimentation. Another stunning example of steichen’s use of the cyanotype in combination with other processes is the Pond—Moonlight (1904) from his Moonrise series.5 in a letter to Alfred stieglitz from the same year, steichen wrote: “Another one, Moonrise [is] in three printings: first printing grey black plat[inum]—2nd, plain blue print (secret) 3rd, greenish gum. it is so very dark i must take the glass off because it acts too much like a mirror.”6 steichen’s parenthetical postscript to the blue print, “secret,” is revealing. At the turn of the century, fine art photographers, including steichen, primarily used the cyanotype for proofing photographs. However, he clearly went on to combine cyanotype with other processes for his finished photographs as well. given the esteemed recipient of the letter, steichen may have been embarrassed about employing a pedestrian process in one of his signature, finished photographs. But, in a more positive reading, steichen may have considered cyanotype a secret weapon, a process he employed courageously despite the establishment’s disregard. it is with these two interpretations that we may consider the role of the cyanotype in Jean simpson in Profile, where it has a decidedly subtle presence. Although analysis of Worcester’s Jean simpson in Profile is ongoing, its identification thus far as a palladium print over a cyanotype is an exciting discovery. the photograph now joins the small number of other steichen pictures that feature palladium and cyanotype, and further affirms his status as a maverick and pioneer in the history of photography.
Fig. 32: Edward steichen, American, 1879-1973, Jean simpson in Profile, 1923, palladium over cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, stoddard Acquisition Fund, 1986.3 64
Fig. 33 A detail from the bottom center of the photograph showing how the brown palladium layer lies over the blue cyanotype layer; the tiny inflections of blue cyanotype evident in the necklace beads and contours of the arm and hand; and the fine craquelure network that appears throughout. Edward steichen, American, 1879-1973, Jean simpson in Profile (detail), 1923, palladium over cyanotype, Worcester Art Museum, stoddard Acquistion Fund, 1986.3
our gratitude to Anne McCauley, David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art, Princeton University, who visited Worcester in spring 2015, and encouraged us to re-examine Jean simpson in Profile’s designation as a carbro print.
our gratitude to Paul Messier, Head of the lens Media lab, institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, yale University and President and Head Conservator, Paul Messier llC, for his assistance analyzing Jean simpson in Profile, and in particular, for suggesting that the slight sheen and fine craquelure pattern observed likely was the result of the print being made on Japine paper rather than the presence of an additional coating or process. in her essay, “Noble Metals for the Early Modern Era: Platinum, silver-Platinum, and Palladium Prints,” Constance McCabe writes that the Platinotype Company described Japine paper in one advertisement as providing “half glossy ‘egg shell’ surface met in some carbon prints.” it was perhaps this surface quality that led previous WAM curators to identify Jean simpson in Profile as a carbro print. Constance McCabe, “Noble Metals for the Early Modern Era: Platinum, silver-Platinum, and Palladium Prints,” in Mitra Abbaspour, lee Ann Daffner, and Maria Morris Hambourg, eds., object: Photo. Modern Photographs: the thomas Walther Collection 1909–1949. An online Project of the Museum of Modern Art (New york: the Museum of Modern Art, 2014), http://www.moma.org/interactives/objectphoto/assets/ essays/McCabe.pdf. the analytical work on Japine paper by Ms. McCabe and her colleagues is discussed in: Matthew l. Clarke, Constance McCabe, and Christopher Maines, “Unraveling the modified surface of the photographic paper ‘Japine,’” Analytical Methods 6 (2014): 147–155.
A carbro print is made by layering two to three sheets of carbon tissue on a substrate. Each carbon tissue is pigmented and deposits a colored gelatin onto the surface. the image is formed by a chemical reaction between the silver of the bromide print and the pigmented tissue.
Both the smithsonian American Art and Worcester Jean simpson pictures extend to the edges of the sheet and are similar in dimension: 24.8 cm x 19.7 cm (smithsonian) and 25.3 cm x 20.1 cm (Worcester).
Although it bears a different title, it is likely steichen is referring here to Moonrise, Mamaroneck, New york from 1904 in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New york. in MoMA Highlights: 350 Works from the Museum of Modern Art, New york, the photograph is described as having “reeds and grasses in the foreground” sketched by the artist, which would explain steichen’s reference to “greenish gum” in his letter to Alfred stieglitz cited above. Museum of Modern Art, New york, MoMA Highlights: 350 Works from the Museum of Modern Art, New york (New york: the Museum of Modern Art, 2013): 38.
Cited in Dennis longfellow, steichen: the Master Prints 1895–1914 (New york: the Museum of Modern Art, 1978): 17. longfellow indicates that the initial source of the letter came from leaf 54 of the Alfred stieglitz Archive, the Beinecke rare Book and Manuscript library, yale University.
A rt A F t E r D E At H Casey shea â€™16
hese two unique and captivating cyanotypes, made by an unknown person, depict the human form at life size. Likely made in the 1940s, they show two sectioned views of the interior of the human body. The blue photographs display the complexity of the body as organs, muscles, tissue, and bones intricately weave around one other. The dark blue and stark white produce captivating images that speak to death. The certainty of death hovers over these images in their transformation from scientific objects to works of art, from cadaver slices to memento mori. It is hard to ignore how both body slices resemble a medical diagram, yet there are several facets that remind us of the true presence of death. The first work depicts a profile view of a male cadaver from the head to just below the pelvis in striking shades of Prussian blue (fig. 34). The bulbous head and intricate bone structure of the skull sit atop a bold blue spine that runs along the left side of the image, the bones encased in beautifully striated back muscles. Toward the front of the body, organs with blue shadows emerge from a large white area. The liverâ€™s dark color stands out as it rests just below the heart and lung. The colon parallels the mass of intestines before reaching the pelvis. The apparently comprehensive specimen lies on a crisp white background. Three evenly spaced blue marks at the top and bottom of the page may be evidence of where the paper was tightly sealed during development. It is perhaps the decaying teeth crumbling in the mouth of the lifeless body that most readily alludes to death. The soul escapes while a machine cuts the human body into thin sheets. Pain and fear emanate from the figure. Its gruesome destiny reflects human mortality and the fragility of life. The second body slice reproduces a frontal view from the neck to the pelvis, excluding all extremities (fig. 35). The faceless figure provokes questions about its identity and what horrible fate led to its death. Like the image of the profiled cadaver, this work shows bold dark blue vertebrae that descend from the head. Segments of each rib form dots of blue encasing the heart,
lungs, and liver, as if to frame them. The spine interrupts a mass of intertwining muscles and intestines below the rib cage. In the lower part of the image, two dark shapes, made by the pelvic bones conjoining with the femur, are surrounded by powerful muscles stretching down toward the legs. The blue hue encompasses the body, creating an atmosphere of calm stillness, unlike the other cyanotype, which screams in pain. The death of these humans is no more predictable than how the viewer shall depart this life. One day, we too will become corpses, perhaps sprawled out for examination. The quality of memento mori is inescapable when studying these cyanotypes, but the meanings they possess as well as their purpose have evolved over time. Body slices are not common subjects for cyanotypes, and the process by which such an image would be made is still debated. Theoretically, using the traditional cyanotype method, placing a frozen cadaver slice on a chemically treated paper and exposing it to ultraviolet light as a contact print would not produce the colorations seen in these works.1 The vibrant blue bones and dark liver should remain white because these solid areas would have blocked the passage of light to the paper. The maker may have x-rayed a frozen cadaver using a certain energy level that would have allowed for a specific amount of bone and soft tissue to be seen.2 Similar works, including a pair of cyanotypes in the collection of Yale University Art Gallery, were created using this method.3 In the traditional cyanotype process, an x-ray would allow for light to contact the paper in areas where bones are present, accounting for the coloration in these images. Moreover, the surrounding dark ground of an x-ray would create crisp edges around the body and would translate, in a cyanotype, into the white field that surrounds these figures. Unlike the other works in this exhibition, these objects were not made as art but instead were probably teaching tools. On December 8, 1895, the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered x-rays, offering insight into the body.4 By the 1940s, the x-ray was a well-known tool and
Fig. 34: American, Body slice, Profile Cross-section, about 1940, cyanotype, Courtesy of David Winter 68
played a part in the changing health care industry in the United States. In 1942 the American Medical Association Council created the Liaison Committee on Medical Education to accredit programs with a doctor of medicine degree.5 World War II encouraged federal intervention, and President Harry Truman ultimately proposed the Hospital Survey and Construction Act.6 The increasing number of hospitals and the newly established MD standards created a need for well-educated medical professionals. The person who made these cyanotypes purposefully crafted their fine details in order to teach medical students about the body.7 They not only show bones but also include the surrounding soft tissue, and students would have benefited from seeing bones interact with tissue. It would have been more financially feasible to mass produce and distribute cyanotypes like these for the purpose of teaching than continuously supplying fresh cadavers.
As technology has progressed, cyanotypes have become obsolete as a medical teaching tool. Instead, they have gained new meaning as photographs, transforming from medical diagrams into works of art. When reinterpreting these objects as art, the idea of memento mori, the reminder of mortality, comes to the fore.8 The images depict dead bodies apparently sliced into pieces, but they also connect with the viewer in an emotionally powerful way. The life-size cyanotypes confront the viewer with their personal and intimate scale, unlike shrunken images often found in photographs. The gaping mouth of the image in profile screams for help while breathing out the life that once inhabited the body. Its blue stain remains cold and dead against the sterile white paper, merely becoming a specimen of the past, of what once held life.
For further information on the body slice cyanotypes and their creation process, please consult the scholarship of Lita Tirak, PhD candidate in American studies at the College of William and Mary.
“Dual Energy Radiography Acquisition and Processing,” Upstate Medical University, last modified September 30, 2014, accessed November 17, 2015, http://www.upstate.edu/radiology/ education/rsna/radiography/dual.php.
Vicki Goldberg, “Art and Science Sing the Body Transparent,” New York Times, December 20, 1998.
Julie Saul Gallery, “Skin/Deep: A Survey of Interior Imaging from X-Ray to MRI,” press release, 1998, print.
“AMA History Timeline,” American Medical Association, accessed November 4, 2015, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-history/ama-history-timeline.page?.
James Gilbert Ryan and Leonard C Schlup, Historical Dictionary of the 1940s (New York: Routledge, 2006), 247; V. M. Hoge, “The Hospital Survey and Construction Act,” Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons (1946): 15.
William Zimmer, “ART; No Mere Meandering Among Pictures,” New York Times, September 5, 1999. See also Barbra Zabel, Assembling Art: The Machine and the American Avant-Garde (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004), 37; and Goldberg, “Art and Science.”
Benjamin R. Bennett-Carpenter, Moving Memento Mori Pictures: Documentary, Mortality, and Transformation in Three Films (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 2008), 88.
See Alexandra Gray’s “Annie Lopez: Cyanotypes Conveying Personal Narrative” in this volume.
See Grant Henry’s “Proofing Curtis’s Proofs” in this volume.
These pieces do not stand alone as scientific specimens and symbols of the fragility of life. Annie Lopez’s Medical Conditions, also in this exhibition, relates to these once medical works (see fig. 40). Lopez created cyanotypes featuring x-rays, scans, and medical definitions on tamale papers, sewing them to form dresses. These highly personal works relate to her father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.9 The dense medical information transforms into art and connects to the ongoing struggle of coping with aging and death. Edward Sheriff Curtis’s work Clayoquot Shaman Woman connects to the body slices as well (see fig. 30). Curtis documented traditional Native American practices on the verge of extinction.10 Like the body slices, Curtis’s cyanotype looks to archive a human form for the education of others. The body slices, like these other works, transcend their original use to speak to larger themes. Let their memento mori remind us all that one day we too shall die.
Fig. 35: American, Body slice, Frontal Cross-section, about 1940, cyanotype, Courtesy of David Winter 71
K A s t E N ’ s A B s t r A C t D o C U M E N tAt i o N Mehran Mehrdad Ali ’16
ale, netted textures flow across and float within a deep Prussian blue in Barbara Kasten’s cyanotype Photogenic Painting Untitled 75/31 (fig. 36). From a distance we see glowing, ephemeral, pale shapes within the field of blue. As we make our way closer to the piece, we notice the fine net-like texture of the fiberglass mesh. Pale blue and white streaks cut across the surface in irregular geometric shapes. Close to the center, the pale streaks crumple together, forming a dense, radiant, twisted mass. Within the blue irregular shapes, we see fainter, softer white waves. the whole image has a ghostly translucence, dramatizing the multiple layers of mesh folding and unfolding, appearing and disappearing all over the field. Kasten’s photogram is a most literal documentation of fiberglass mesh. yet it appears to be composed of completely abstract shapes, light, and shadow. Kasten transgresses the documentary and representational tradition of photography precisely through hyperliteral documentation of an object—so literal, it is abstracted beyond recognition. Her transgression is enhanced by her interdisciplinary approach to art, combining sculpture, photography, and painting, pushing the boundaries of each medium. Kasten coated the paper in photosensitive chemicals by hand, laid the folded mesh on it, exposed the entire piece to light, and captured the silhouette as a pale negative on Prussian blue. What we see in the final image are abstract geometries—forms, shapes, curved and straight lines— and detailed textures within the deep blue. Kasten’s cyanotype photogram is in many ways the opposite of the cyanotype City Hall, Worcester and other such nineteenth-century landscape cyanotypes printed on silk (fig. 37). in both cases fabric and photography are brought together, but the results are worlds apart. Kasten placed industrial fabric on the photographic paper whereas the artist of City Hall, Worcester printed a photographic negative on fabric. Kasten’s literal, to-scale documentation of fiber is abstracted and unrecognizable, but the documentary cityscape on silk, though miniature, is clearly representational.
Kasten has long cited the influence of the Bauhaus and lázló MoholyNagy—in particular his crumpled paper photograms—on her work.1 in that series of photograms, Moholy-Nagy set out to explore the light sensitivity of a chemically prepared surface, which he considered to be the basic element of the photographic process. in a work such as Diagram of Forces (about 1939, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), Moholy-Nagy squashed wet light-sensitive paper and exposed it to light. the result is a documentation of the forces of light on the sheet of paper.2 Moholy-Nagy’s project was slightly different from Kasten’s; he did not document another object, only the effect of light on the paper itself. But they do both relinquish the camera entirely in order to work directly with light, and both of their photograms challenge the representational tradition of photography by being forcefully literal and completely abstract at the same time. Kasten trained originally as a painter in California. While pursuing her graduate degree in 1968, she discovered the Bauhaus through trude guermonprez, a textile artist at the California College of Arts and Crafts in oakland. in 1971 Kasten received a Fulbright grant to practice art in Poznan, Poland, where she worked closely with Magdalena Abakanowicz making fiber sculptures. After marrying photographer leland rice, her love for photography solidified. rice once organized a photography exhibition featuring Moholy-Nagy photographs at Pomona College, and Kasten and rice collected outstanding Bauhaus artworks.3 the Bauhaus opened in Weimar, germany, in 1919 after the First World War. its purpose was to transform art education, uniting the arts and crafts.4 one of the lasting contributions of the Bauhaus curriculum was the basic course, in which students were encouraged to free their artistic talents from dead conventions through the study of fundamental principles of design, form, and color. rejection of obsolete conventions as well as creativity and experimentation were essential.5 the aim of the Bauhaus, according to Walter gropius’s 1919 manifesto, was to bring together all the disciplines
Fig. 36: Barbara Kasten, American, born 1936, Photogenic Painting Untitled 75/31, 1975, cyanotype, Courtesy of the artist and Bortolami gallery, New york © Barbara Kasten 72
of art—painting, sculpture, handicrafts, and crafts—as inseparable components of a new architecture. the ultimate aim was the unified work of art, the great structure where there exists no distinction between monumental and decorative art.6
Estelle Jussim, “the optical Fantasies of Barbara Kasten,” in Constructs, eds. Barbara Kasten and Estelle Jussim (Boston: New york graphic society Books, 1985), n.p.; lyle rexer, the Edge of vision: the rise of Abstraction in Photography (New york: Aperture, 2013), 150; Claire Bergeal, Bortolami gallery, New york, e-mail message to author, December 2, 2015.
Kasten is interested in pushing the boundaries of the various media she works with. Her interest in the cyanotype, for example, stems from the painterly potential of brushing the light-sensitive chemicals onto the paper.7 in her willingness to push the limits of any given medium, she embodies the Bauhaus spirit of creativity, experimentation, and rejection of dead conventions. like Moholy-Nagy, she experimented with photography in its simplest form, creating an image directly with light. Her photogram of the fiberglass mesh subverts the convention of documentary photography by creating a literal record that is completely abstract. the otherworldly blue of the cyanotype, along with the abstraction that Kasten achieved through the photogram process, reduces the documented object to pure shapes and color: blue irregular forms, curved and straight pale blue and white lines. Furthermore, Kasten combined sculpture, photography, and painting in the process of creating Photogenic Painting Untitled 75/31, embodying the Bauhaus aim of the unified work of art. she prepared the physical object (the fiberglass mesh) to be photographed, she painted on the light-sensitive chemicals on the paper, and finally she made the photogram. the work itself ultimately transforms the sculptural fiberglass mesh into a flat painting-like image of line, shape, and color.
geoffrey Batchen, “‘Photography’: An Art of the real,” in What is a Photograph?, ed. Carol squiers (New york: international Center of Photography, 2013), 46, 50, 51.
Jussim, “the optical Fantasies of Barbara Kasten.”
Frank Whitford, Bauhaus (New york: thames and Hudson, 1995), 29; Walter gropius, “Program of the staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar,” in the industrial Design reader, ed. Carma gorman (New york: Allworth Press, 2003), 98.
gillian Naylor, the Bauhaus reassessed: sources and Design theory (london: Herbert Press limited, 1993), 76–77.
gropius, “Program of the staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar,” 98.
Bergeal, e-mail message to author.
Fig. 37: American, City Hall, Worcester, about 1900, cyanotype on silk, Worcester Art Museum, gift of Pierrina Maria rohde, 1991.77 75
s i l E N t H o U r g l A s s : N o s tA l g i A i N M A r C l Ay ’ s C yA N ot y P E s Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer ’17
“ n everyday life we are inclined to be enthusiastic about everything blue, from the deep blue of the sea or the deeper depths of blue in a woman’s eyes.”1 So begins an article that seemingly could be a review of Christian Marclay’s spectacular cyanotype Unwound Cassette Tape (fig. 38). This quote, however, predates Marclay’s cyanotype work by over one hundred years. Appearing in an essay about cyanotypes in the January 1900 issue of The Photo-Miniature, this reaction encourages us to think deeply about the historical references in Marclay’s cyanotypes as well as the ways in which contemporary cyanotype artists look to the past for inspiration. Conceptions of time are a major theme in Marclay’s work: the shape of the falling tape fiche makes allusions to an hourglass that reminds the viewer of impending expiration. The form of the object presents itself as the nexus between life and death, whose trajectory is set by this metaphorical hourglass. Standing at just under five feet tall, this work evokes obvious connections to the human body. Yet, in its presentation of life, Unwound Cassette Tape must ultimately confront inevitable death. As he brings together time and existence, Marclay makes a striking claim: the past is a trace, the future is an infinite expanse, and the present is fully human. The audiocassette tape iconography presented throughout Marclay’s entire cyanotype oeuvre and particularly in Unwound Cassette Tape is connected to the artist’s fondness of audio technology, but it is ultimately something much more than that. Marclay was born in Marin, California, and raised in Switzerland during a time of drastic change for both audio and photographic mediums. The advent of the Polaroid and the shift toward digital marked watershed moments for the worlds that Marclay would soon enter. Marclay approached the world of music through his formal art training at the Massachusetts College of Art in the late 1970s and has maintained a steady finger on the pulse of both visual and auditory mediums throughout his expansive career.
Like sand passing through an hourglass, sound has a duration but then expires. As Marclay notes, “I’m attracted to the feeling of loss that you get from images that try to represent sound. The main thing missing in the image of a sound is the sound itself. We know that photography is a medium that cannot capture sound. All it can capture are visual traces—the residues of something invisible, just as words on a page are the traces of an invisible thought.”2 This emptiness of sound is amplified by the Prussian blue expanse of the cyanotype medium. An hourglass makes no sound; however, it does sound a silent yet urgent alarm. The past, only available to us in traces, and the future, already measured out in fiche, urge the viewer to revel, if only for a moment, in the beauty of the silence and stasis. In his cyanotypes—made at Graphicstudio at the University of South Florida since 2007—Marclay is not merely engaging the question of sound.3 He is also making a direct reference to the past and the early artists who used the cyanotype technique. Art historian Noam Elcott highlighted the similarities between Marclay’s work and that of early cyanotype pioneers, in particular that of Anna Atkins (see fig. 18).4 Elcott noted the death of the subject matter that occurs in both Atkins’s and Marclay’s cyanotypes. Just as Atkins removed algae and ferns from their natural environments and suspended them where they did not belong in order to eternalize them, Marclay memorialized these cassette tapes in a metaphorical ocean. While the cassette itself is killed in order to create the work, the long-ignored cyanotype process is resurrected, if only for a moment, at the hands of Marclay and his contemporaries. The legible representation of the subject in Unwound Cassette Tape is a distinct departure from Marclay’s cyanotype contemporaries. German photographer Marco Breuer’s inventive cyanotypes hark back to twentiethcentury abstraction in painting. Breuer’s Untitled (E-33) is interested in non-representational imagery that invites the viewer into the cyanotype process (fig. 39).5 In contrast, Marclay’s work focuses on the subtlety and
Fig. 38: Christian Marclay, American and swiss, born 1955, Unwound Cassette tape, 2012, cyanotype, Courtesy of Elizabeth and Michael Marcus © Christian Marclay 76
clarity of the subject to ask questions about time and make statements about life and death. Rooted deeply in its historical elements (the audiocassette and the historical cyanotype process), Unwound Cassette Tape evokes the melancholic note of loss, yet the hourglass imagery suggests life and hope for the future. Roland Barthes notes simply in Camera Lucida, “Time is not sad.”6 Within this understanding, the death of the cassette is here resurrected as an hourglass, which results in a sense of hope in the possibility of new life. Unwound Cassette Tape offers a fascinating example of the tango between past and present. The spools of tape in the upper portion of the work appear as eyes staring into the depths of the viewer. The unraveled fiche that collects at the bottom of the work offers a sense of memento mori, reminding the viewer of the past in a series of traces and forebodes a sense that all to come will meet this watery fate. The life of the object is measured out in tape reel. If the subject of Marclay’s work has not yet been killed, the falling fiche makes clear that its death is inevitable; at the same time, there is very little sense of how much fiche has fallen and how much has yet to fall.
John A. tennant, ed. “the ‘Blue Print’ and its variations,” Photo-Miniature: A Magazine of Photographic information 1, no. 10 (January 1900): 481.
Christian Marclay, interview by Kim gordon, in Pressplay: Contemporary Artists in Conversation (New york: Phaidon, 2005), 441–48.
Emily lambert, Fraenkel gallery, interview by author, october 9, 2015.
Noam M. Elcott, “Ultimately Detritus: Christian Marclay’s Cyanotypes,” in Christian Marclay: Cyanotypes (tampa, Fl: graphicstudio, 2011), 2.
Carol squiers, ed., What is a Photograph? (Munich: Prestel, 2014), 31.
roland Barthes, Camera lucida: reflections on Photography, trans. richard Howard (New york: Hill and Wang, 1981), 15.
Anne Havinga, Blue: Cobalt to Cerulean in Art and Culture (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2015), 148.
Marclay’s decision to use the cyanotype medium was not merely accidental. The deep Prussian blue lends a sense of nostalgia to the already memorialized audiocassette tape. As art historian Anne Havinga notes, “As it had been for Atkins . . . the cyanotype, with its arbitrary, decorative and intense hue, was a perfect tool for combining accurate representation and poetic metaphor.”7 For many true visionaries, the cyanotype process offers something no other medium can. For Marclay the blue is not merely an inescapable side effect of the method but rather an opportunity to explore the expanses of a color as protean as the questions the work asks. Blue can be seen as the sensuous blue of an eye or the mysterious depths of an ocean to the melancholy associated with the “blues.” This haunting ambiguity is, for Marclay, an opportunity for the viewer to focus on the object represented and remove herself from the clamor and noise that lies just beyond the frame. Marclay believes the cyanotype to be a bridge to the past: it acknowledges the death of the audiocassette through allusions to an hourglass, but it also resurrects the work of artists like Anna Atkins. While the work is permeated by a sense of mortality and melancholy, the body-like form of the tape renews a sense of life; thus, Unwound Cassette Tape, like the deep blue sea, finds resolution. Referencing the past, listening to the future, the cyanotype is present.
Fig. 39: Marco Breuer, german, born 1966, Untitled (E-33), 2005, cyanotype on Fabriano paper, loan courtesy of yossi Milo gallery, New york © Marco Breuer 79
A N N i E l o P E Z : C yA N ot y P E s C o N v E y i N g P E r s o N A l N A r r At i v E Alexandra gray ’17
nnie Lopez describes Medical Conditions as a kind of “personal armor” that allows her to explore topics such as gender and cultural identity, fear of her father’s illness, and worries about her own mortality (fig. 40).1 Lopez is a contemporary photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. After working primarily with 35 mm film, she became interested in the cyanotype process, a medium that allows her to use text, fabric, and color to convey personal narrative. Lopez often discusses her position as a Mexican American woman in her work, using autobiographical experiences to connect with a larger audience. In Medical Conditions, Lopez depicted personal anxieties associated with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease and incorporated her cultural heritage by printing the cyanotype images onto tamale paper. The way she links personal and cultural identity can be connected to the work of Brooke Williams, another artist in this exhibition who uses personal stories to reflect on her racial identity.2 Medical Conditions is part of a series of fourteen dresses. To create each dress, Lopez printed at least twenty cyanotypes onto individual tamale papers. She then sewed the paper onto dress forms taken from the latter half of the twentieth century. Medical Conditions is a knee-length dress with an empire waist, short puffed sleeves, and a scoop neckline. It is made up of three iconographic elements: numbers, text, and images. The front of the dress has medical text placed horizontally across the bust with images of more medical text and number charts located vertically at the waist and hem. The skirt has two x-ray images, one of a brain and one of Lopez’s own broken arm. The left sleeve contains an image of biological cells, and the right sleeve shows text written on children’s lined paper stating, “you should help your mother more.” The back of the dress has repeating images of the two x-rays, medical text, and number charts featured on the front.3 Medical Conditions is a symbolic self-portrait. To Lopez, the dress form represents social expectations about appropriate femininity. She recalls that she considered herself a tomboy as a child, making this dress an example of the “Annie that I could have been.”4 Returning to gender expectations as an
adult allows Lopez to confront and revise childhood deviance by addressing feminine ideals. Lopez made the dress out of cyanotypes printed on tamale paper, the material implicitly revealing her Mexican American background. Lopez uses meaningful form and material to reflect her own sense of personal identity.5 Through its iconography, Medical Conditions expresses Lopez’s anxieties surrounding her father’s dementia. Her extensive investigation of his Alzheimer’s disease is conveyed through a plethora of medical text and encyclopedia definitions, including a definition of the term disease, a description of dementia, as well as dosage measurements for medications. Lopez distanced herself from her father’s heartbreaking situation by using publicly available medical texts to symbolize his illness and choosing not to incorporate personal images of the man himself. She may have selected publicly available images in order to protect herself against feeling powerless. Photography can be, in Susan Sontag’s words, a “defense against anxiety, and a tool of power,” and here Lopez used it to gain understanding of her father’s illness while simultaneously creating an object that memorializes his life.6 Deeply examining her father’s illness forced Lopez to confront her own fears of illness and mortality, and Medical Conditions became, in a way, a memento mori, a reminder that life is finite.7 While her father was ill, Lopez had, in her words, “brains on the brain,” becoming obsessed with medical texts and overwhelmed at the number of medical problems that one can experience.8 Lopez constantly thought of her own health, and she worried that she would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as well. The mysterious number charts symbolize her realization that numbers can dictate one’s life, or, as she said, the “odds that something is coming to get you.”9 The x-ray from her own broken arm is the only photograph in the work that references a specific historical moment. Unlike her use of medical texts and imagery, which are public, impersonal, and transcend time, this x-ray memorializes a concrete, personal event. The image directly refers to the artist’s fear of her own bodily fragility and impending death, connecting her to her father’s illness.10
Fig. 40: Annie lopez, American, born 1958, Medical Conditions, 2013, cyanotype on tamale paper, Courtesy of the Artist 80
Another theme present in this work is Lopez’s frustration with family members during her father’s illness. The quote “you should help your mother more” refers to a comment made by a family member, insinuating that Lopez was not fully involved with her father’s care.11 Lopez was frustrated by this remark, feeling that the time spent helping her father went unnoticed. By including a firsthand statement from personal experience within the work, she enhanced its narrative qualities. Brooke Williams, like Lopez, incorporates familial quotes in her cyanotype art to give form to prominent life events. Brooke Williams is a Jamaican American artist based in Brooklyn, New York, who uses cyanotypes to discuss how cultural identity is forged and how personal narrative is written. In Self With Family, Jamaica, Williams printed six candid large-format photographs of a family vacation to Jamaica (fig. 41). Around the edges of the work, journal entries written by Williams’s father, outlining his dating expectations for his children, are interwoven with historical writings, including texts by Marcus Garvey, known for his controversial Pan-Africanism movement in the early twentieth century.12 Williams created this piece as a “visual metaphor for the swirling philosophies all vying for our attention as we stagger toward adulthood.”13 The spiraling incoherence of the text depicts the anxiety and confusion that Williams faced when she had to negotiate multiple, differing opinions during her adolescence: the views of her father and those of prominent historical figures. Both Williams and Lopez tell personal stories through their work: Williams created Self With Family, Jamaica to express the competing viewpoints she faced as she emerged from childhood while Lopez explored personal tragedy in Medical Conditions.
“Annie Lopez: Contemporary Forum’s Mid-Career Artist Award Recipient,” Phoenix Art Museum, accessed September 10, 2015, http://www.phxart.org/exhibition/annielopez; “Sounds of Cultura Annie Lopez,” interview by José Cárdenas, Horizante Video, Arizona PBS, June 13, 2013, accessed September 15, 2015, http://www.azpbs.org/horizante/detailvid.php?id=976; Annie Lopez, interview by author, October 25, 2015.
Lopez, interview by author.
“Annie Lopez: Contemporary Forum’s Mid-Career Artist Award Recipient”; Lopez, interview by author.
Susan Sontag, “In Plato’s Cave,” in On Photography (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1977), 6; Lopez, interview by author.
Susan Sontag, “In Plato’s Cave,” 15.
Lopez, interview by author.
Ibid.; Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modern Myths (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 215.
Lopez, interview by author.
Brooke Williams object file, Worcester Art Museum.
Christopher James, The Book of Alternative Processes: Third Edition (Boston: Cengage Learning, 2015), 117; Brooke Williams object file.
Cyanotypes also allow both Williams and Lopez to examine the meaning of race and heritage. While Lopez printed her images on tamale paper to distinguish her Mexican American identity, Williams tinted her family photographs with tannic acid to mirror the subjects’ black skin tone, depicting her race.14 Both artists use the cyanotype process to call attention to their lives as cultural and racial minorities. In a culture—and art world—that is often exclusionary to both women and minorities, it is vital for these artists to assert their distinctive identities in their work. These artists’ openness and transparency allow viewers to engage in their personal narratives and understand that these stories are part of a larger conversation.
Fig. 41: Brooke Williams, American, born 1966, self with Family, Jamaica, 1987, tea-toned cyanotype and cyanotype in sixteen parts, Worcester Art Museum, gift of the Artist, 2015.46 83
i l l U s t r At E D C H E C K l i s t
All works are cyanotype on wove paper unless otherwise indicated.
American, late 19th century City Hall, Worcester, about 1900 Cyanotype on silk Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Pierrina Maria Rohde, 1991.77
American, late 19th–early 20th century Woman Watching Schooner from a Rocky Promontory, 1885-1910 Cyanotype on silk Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Pierrina Maria Rohde, 1991.90
American, late 19th–early 20th century Greek Revival Building with Ionic Portico with Frame Church in Right Middle Ground, 1885-1910 Cyanotype on silk Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Pierrina Maria Rohde, 1991.80
American, 20th century Body Slice, Profile Cross-Section, about 1940 Courtesy of David Winter
American, late 19th–early 20th century Shingle Style Parish Church, 1885-1910 Cyanotype on silk Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Pierrina Maria Rohde, 1991.81
American, 20th century Body Slice, Frontal Cross-Section, about 1940 Courtesy of David Winter
American, late 19th–early 20th century Village Seen from Hillside, 1885-1910 Cyanotype on silk Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Pierrina Maria Rohde, 1991.83
American, late 19th–early 20th century Bridge in Mississippi, 1884 Courtesy of Richard and Andrea Kremer
American, late 19th–early 20th century Two Residential Buildings in Open Landscape, 1885-1910 Cyanotype on silk Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Pierrina Maria Rohde, 1991.85
American, 20th century Head of Horizontal Coal Conveyor, about 1910 Courtesy of Richard and Andrea Kremer
American, active later 19th century Mountain Pass near Seattle, Washington, about 1895 Private Collection
French, early 20th century Lace Sample, about 1905 Worcester Art Museum, Sarah C. Garver Fund, 2015.45
American, 20th century South Street, Westboro, Massachusetts, 1890-1910 Courtesy of Richard and Andrea Kremer
French, early 20th century Lace Sample, about 1905 Courtesy of Lee Gallery
American, active early 20th century Woman with a Rifle, about 1900 Private Collection
Anna Atkins, English, 1799–1871 Honey Locust Leaf and Pod (Gleditsia triacanthos), about 1854 Worcester Art Museum, Stoddard Acquisition Fund, 1989.9
American, late 19th–early 20th century Birthday Invitation for Lana Kramy[?], 1906 Cyanotype and ink with graphite on card stock Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Andrea Kremer, 2015.55.1
Laura Blacklow, American, born 1945 Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala, 1980 Cyanotype and Van Dyke with blue watercolor and traces of graphite Courtesy of Laura Blacklow © Laura Blacklow
American, late 19th–early 20th century Woman among Foliage near Lewiston, ME, 1906 Cyanotype and ink on card stock Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Andrea Kremer, 2015.55.4
Henry Bosse, American, born in Germany, 1844–1903 U.S. Steamlaunch “Louise,” near Keokuk, IA, 1885 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Edward J. and Mary S. Holmes Fund, 2010.504
Henry Bosse, American, born in Germany, 1844–1903 From Bluffs at Merrimac, Minnesota, 1891 Courtesy of Elizabeth and Michael Marcus
William H. Cades, American, 1820–after 1892 Large Oak at Edge of Meadow, 1890s Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.71
Marco Breuer, German, born 1966 Untitled (E-33), 2005 Cyanotype on Fabrino paper Loan courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York © Marco Breuer, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Untitled, 1900 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.22
William H. Cades, American, 1820–after 1892 Beaver Brook Cascade, Waverly, Massachusetts, 1892 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.68
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Untitled, 1894 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.28
William H. Cades, American, 1820–after 1892 Elm Tree near Beaver Brook, Waverly, Massachusetts, 1892 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.69
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Forest Brook, 1894 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.30
William H. Cades, American, 1820–after 1892 Two Men Fishing from Rocks at Seaside Resort, 1890s Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.70
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Untitled, 1894 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.32
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Stephen Salisbury’s Parlor, 1894 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.33
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Hunter with Canada Goose, 1894 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.53
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Tibouchina, 1901 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.40
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Bulletin Board with Artist’s Photographs, about 1899 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.81
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Coulson’s Sister Smoking a Cigarette, 1895 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.41
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Artist’s Sister in a Hat, about 1900 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.110
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Worcester Art Museum Opening Exhibition, 1898 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.48
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Untitled, 1904 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.125
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Workman with Book, 1894 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.270.49
Frederick Coulson, American, 1869–1931 Untitled, 1890 Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.130
J. Couyat, French, active 1910s and Pierre Montet, French, 1885–1966 Wadi Hammâmât, Egypt, about 1911 Worcester Art Museum, Purchased with funds from Robert Patten and Timothy Robbins in honor of Edward Osowski, 2015.41
Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922 Landscape with Barn, Ipswich, MA, 1890-1910 Worcester Art Museum, Stoddard Acquisition Fund, 1987.101
Edward Sheriff Curtis, American, 1868–1952 Spidis Wisham, after 1910 Courtesy of Richard and Andrea Kremer
Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922 Flowers with Pods, about 1900 Worcester Art Museum, Sarah C. Garver Fund, 1997.74
Edward Sheriff Curtis, American, 1868–1952 Clayoquot Shaman Woman, about 1915 Worcester Art Museum, Stoddard Acquisition Fund, 2004.109
Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922 “Little Venice,” Ipswich, about 1900 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents, Frank and Anne Wigglesworth, in memory of their love for Ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.33
Fred Holland Day, American, 1864–1933 Little Good Harbor, Maine, 1905–12 Worcester Art Museum, Sarah C. Garver Fund, 2015.42
Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922 Haystack, about 1900 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents, Frank and Anne Wigglesworth, in memory of their love for Ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.93
Eugene de Salignac, American, 1861–1943 Manhattan Bridge, 1922 Worcester Art Museum, Priscilla Mason Fund and William Grimm Fund, 2015.43
Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922 Haystack (variant), about 1900 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents, Frank and Anne Wigglesworth, in memory of their love for Ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.94
Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857–1922 Two Vases with Irises, about 1900 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents, Frank and Anne Wigglesworth, in memory of their love for Ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.160
Jesseca Ferguson, American, born 1949 Blue moon diptych (constructed), 2006 Cyanotype with touches of white pencil, ink on found paper, and brown ink on found book cover On loan from the artist © Jesseca Ferguson
John Dugdale, American, born 1960 The Fruit of Orchards, Stone Ridge, New York, 2000 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2005.272
Jesseca Ferguson, American, born 1949 Moonscape—moon (constructed), 2014 Cyanotype and gum bichromate with graphite on found book cover On loan from the artist © Jesseca Ferguson
John Dugdale, American, born 1960 Stillness of Spirit, 1996 Cyanotype in artist-made frame Collection of Brian Cummings and Richard Wein © John Dugdale
Harriette Merrifield Forbes, American, 1856–1951 Cornelia Forbes with Watering Can, about 1895 Collection of Joan Paulson Gage
Attributed to Stephen C. Earle, American, 1839–1913 Raising a Telegraph Pole—Worcester, 1890 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Albert B. Southwick, 1997.44
Harriette Merrifield Forbes, American, 1856–1951 Cornelia Forbes with Watering Can (variant), about 1895 Collection of Joan Paulson Gage
Attributed to Stephen C. Earle, American, 1839–1913 Construction of the YWCA Building, High Street, Worcester, 1890 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Albert B. Southwick, 1997.46
Joseph H. Greenwood, American, 1857–1927 Snow Covered Pines, about 1913 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Mabel E. Greenwood, 1965.850.1
Paul Burty Haviland, French, active in the United States, 1880–1950 Florence Peterson Nude, Turned to her Left, 1909–10 Courtesy of Keith de Lellis Gallery
Charles Fletcher Lummis, American, 1859–1928 Chapel of Beatriz de la Cueva where She Perished Sept 10, 1541, 1911 Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Douglas Cox and Edward Osowski Fund for Photography in Honor of the Photographer, 2015.37
Barbara Kasten, American, born 1936 Photogenic Painting Untitled 75/31, 1975 Courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York © Barbara Kasten
Christian Marclay, American, born 1955 Unwound Cassette Tape, 2012 Courtesy of Elizabeth and Michael Marcus © Christian Marclay, Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Albert Lévy, French, about 1847–1907 Le Merveilles et les Originalites Architecturales à l’Exposition, 1900 Worcester Art Museum, Gift from Mack and Paula Lee, 1996.10
John Metoyer, American, born 1966 Eggs from the folio Blood Migration, 2004 Cyanotype with graphite Worcester Art Museum, Chapin Riley Fund, 2015.7 © John Metoyer
Albert Lévy, French, about 1847–1907 Restaurant Algérien at the Paris Exposition, 1900 Courtesy of Richard and Andrea Kremer
John Metoyer, American, born 1966 Cyanotype Proof of Sir John Herschel’s Dream, 2004 Cyanotype with graphite Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Steve Albahari | 21st Editions, 2015.27 © John Metoyer
Annie Lopez, American, born 1958 Medical Conditions, 2013 Cyanotype on tamale paper Courtesy of the artist Image © Annie Lopez, used with permission
John Metoyer, American, born 1966 Toned Cyanotype Proof of Bridge to Algiers, 2004 Toned cyanotype with graphite Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Steve Albahari | 21st Editions, 2015.28 © John Metoyer
John Metoyer, American, born 1966 Cyanotype Proof of Eggs, 2004 Cyanotype with graphite Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Steve Albahari | 21st Editions, 2015.29 © John Metoyer
Edward Steichen, American, 1879–1973 Jean Simpson in Profile, 1923 Palladium over cyanotype Worcester Art Museum, Sarah C. Garver Fund, 1986.3
John Metoyer, American, born 1966 Cyanotype Proof of Victor Emmanuel Monument with Moon, 2004 Cyanotype with graphite Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Steve Albahari | 21st Editions, 2015.32 © John Metoyer
Mike Ware, British, born 1939 Ficus, 1998 Loan courtesy of Gallery 19/21, Guilford, CT © Mike Ware
Attributed to Clara Nelson, American, late 19th– early 20th century Young Boy in Soldier Costume, 1907 Cyanotype and ink on card stock Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Andrea Kremer, 2015.55.3
Brooke Williams, American, born 1966 Self with Family, Jamaica, 1987 Tea-toned cyanotype and cyanotype in sixteen parts Worcester Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2015.46
Meghann Riepenhoff, American, born 1979 Littoral Drift #3 (Rodeo Beach, CA), 2013 Worcester Art Museum, Funded by the Douglas Cox and Edward Osowski Fund for Photography in memory of Robert A. Royka (1933–1996) and Margaret Kent Royka, 2015.44
Hugh Scott-Douglas, British, active in the United States and Canada, born 1988 Untitled, 2012 Cyanotype on linen Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles © Hugh Scott-Douglas, Courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
All works are cyanotype on wove paper unless otherwise indicated
Outside Cover: Meghann Riepenhoff, American, born 1979, Littoral Drift #3 (Rodeo Beach, CA) (detail), 2013, Worcester Art Museum, Funded by the Douglas Cox and Edward Osowski Fund for Photography in memory of Robert A. Royka (1933–1996) and Margaret Kent Royka, 2015.44
Inside Front Cover: William H. Cades, American, 1820-after 1892, Two Men Fishing from Rocks at Seaside Resort (detail), 1890s, Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.70 Inside Back Cover: Arthur Wesley Dow, American, 1857-1922, “Little Venice,” Ipswich (detail), about 1900, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Philio Wigglesworth Cushing and Henry Coolidge Wigglesworth from the collection of their parents Frank and Anne Wigglesworth in memory of their love for Ipswich. M. and M. Karolik Fund and Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, 2006.1277.33
Pg. 5: Eugene de Salignac, American, 1861-1943, Manhattan Bridge, 1922, Worcester Art Museum, Priscilla Mason Fund and William Grimm Fund, 2015.43
Pg. 7: American, 20th Century, Head of a Horizontal Coal Conveyor, about 1910, Courtesy of Richard and Andrea Kremer
Pg. 10: John Metoyer, American, born 1966, Eggs from the folio Blood Migration, 2004, cyanotype with graphite, Worcester Art Museum, Chapin Riley Fund, 2015.7
Pg. 11: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869-1931, Untitled, 1894, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.32
Pg. 14: William H. Cades, American, 1820-after 1892, Large Oak at Edge of Meadow, 1890s, Worcester Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl L. Briel, 1987.71
Pg. 15: American, active early 20th century, Woman with a Rifle, about 1900, Private Collection
Pg. 23: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869-1931, Bulletin Board with Artist’s Photographs, 1894, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.81
Pg. 96: Frederick Coulson, American, 1869-1931, Worcester Art Museum Opening Exhibition, 1898, Worcester Art Museum, Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2010.271.48
ACKNoWlEDgMENts There are scores of people involved in the success of every exhibition. The list grows even longer when a catalogue is included. Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period is no exception. Paper conservator Eliza Spaulding is grateful to Dr. Mike Ware for his steadfast and good-natured guidance preparing for the exhibition and his careful review of her essay; to Babette Gehnrich for her conservation of Frederick Coulson’s cyanotype albums; to Steve Briggs for his photography of the cyanotype process; to Paul Messier, Martin Jürgens, Lois Price, Taina Meller, Shannon Brogdon-Grantham, Richard Moll, Ruth Brown, and Laura Mina for generously sharing their knowledge and experience about the conservation of cyanotypes and related materials; to Marlene Yandrisevits and Dave Lievens for their careful review of her essay; and to Nancy Kathryn Burns and Kristina Wilson for the opportunity to work alongside them on this compelling subject. Co-curator Kristina Wilson thanks Jesseca Ferguson and Laura Blacklow for their generosity during two studio visits and is grateful to the staff at Clark University’s Goddard Library. She also wishes to acknowledge the thoughtful support of Doug Nickel, Andrea V. Rosenthal Professor of Modern Art History of Photography and Modern Art at Brown University. Doug suggested the name for the exhibition and catalogue, read several drafts of Kristina’s essay, and was an invaluable interlocutor for this project. Kristina also thanks the many people who provided research support for the students in the cyanotypes seminar. Co-curator Nancy Kathryn Burns, an admitted tabula rasa in her knowledge of cyanotype history before embarking on this project, sought assistance from countless sources, especially libraries and archives in Worcester and beyond. In addition to the help provided by Worcester Art Museum head librarian, Debby Aframe, Nancy thanks the resourcefulness and assistance of staff at the following institutions: Dinand Library, College of the Holy Cross; Hillyer Art Library, Smith College; Eastman Historical Collection at the University of Rochester, New York; and the Richard and Ronay Menschel Library at the George Eastman House, in particular Virginia Dodier and Deborah Mohr. Wide-ranging questions were addressed by various photography historians, notably Larry J. Schaaf, Malcolm Daniel, Mike Ware, Hans Rooseboom, and Anne McCauley, whose serendipitous visit to the museum
spurred new research on our Steichen portrait. For sharing their excitement for this exhibition with the Worcester community, considerable thanks go to Lui Faire, Birgit Strähle, and the Sprinkler Factory. Lastly, Nancy had the good fortune of receiving much needed criticism from various talented readers and writers throughout the writing process. For their thoughtful commentary and friendship, she wishes to thank Patrick Brown, Simon Feldman, Lauren Szumita, and Grant Wahlquist. In the fall of 2015, a group of upper-level undergraduates at Clark University enrolled in a research seminar on cyanotypes. These students invested an extraordinary amount of time during the semester conducting independent research on the objects and artists in Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period; their catalogue entries are published here. We thank each one of these students for their hard work and commitment to the project. Of course, the success of the seminar students’ essays required the knowledge and assistance of many experts in various fields. For their research support, the Clark seminar students would like to thank the following: Kathy Bell, Tower Hill Botanical Garden; Robyn Conroy, Worcester Historical Society and Worcester Historical Museum; James Welu, director emeritus, Worcester Art Museum; Professor Mark Davidson, Clark University; Claire Bergeal, Bortolami Gallery; Patricia J. Fanning, Norwood Historical Society; Pamela Franks, deputy director for exhibitions, programming, and education and the Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Yale University Art Gallery; La Tanya Autry and Gabriella Svenningsen at Yale University Art Gallery; Mary Petts, Janine Fearn, and Pompi Parry at the Lace Society; Kim Davis, International Organization of Lace, Inc.; Fordyce Williams, coordinator of archives and special collections, Clark University; Alissa Schoenfeld, Yossi Milo Gallery; Emily Lambert, Fraenkel Gallery; Jonah Bokaer, Jonah Bokaer Dance Company; and Annie Lopez. Kristina, Nancy, and Clark LEEP intern Hannah Jaffe were treated to two cyanotype demonstrations, one by artist Jesseca Ferguson, generous not only with her teaching but also with the artwork she lent to the exhibition. Another hands-on class was offered to all Clark seminar students by one of the university’s instructors, Rachel Loischild. Informative and well crafted, the studio class succeeded despite the sun’s unwillingness to emerge from the clouds.
Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period boasts over twenty-five loans from lenders across the United States. For their generosity and confidence in our project, we would like to thank: the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, especially Anne Havinga, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs; Elizabeth and Michael Marcus; Richard and Andrea Kremer; Joan Gage; Yossi Milo Gallery and artist Marco Breuer; Blum & Poe and artist Hugh ScottDouglas; David Winter; Annie Lopez; Michael Lee, Lee Gallery; Jesseca Ferguson; Laura Blacklow; Brian Cummings and Richard Wein; Keith de Lellis Gallery; Florence Pénault, Gallery 19/21; as well as Bortolami Gallery LLC and artist Barbara Kasten. We are especially indebted to those who supported this exhibition through gifts to Worcester Art Museum’s collection and outside financial support. In particular, we owe a debt of gratitude to artist Brooke Williams for her gift of Self with Family, Jamaica, funds for the purchase of Meghann Riepenhoff’s Littoral Drift #3 from Edward Osowski, and the donation of several cyanotypes from the respective collections of Steven Albahari, Richard and Andrea Kremer, and Edward Osowski. We are also grateful for sponsorship from Skinner Auctioneers, especially Robin Starr, whose support helped promote the exhibition and make the unique and innovative collaboration between Clark University and Worcester Art Museum possible. Finally, Clark University provided generous financial support, without which it would have been impossible to produce a catalogue to accompany this exhibition. In particular, we would like to thank associate provost and dean of the college Matt Malsky, as well as the Higgins School of Humanities at Clark University. Finally, we extend our sincere gratitude to those at Worcester Art Museum who have spent many hours designing, conserving, framing, receiving work, requesting reproductions, marketing, and editing for our exhibition and catalogue. There are too many names to list, though we feel it is important to call out a few who have spent considerable time on this project.
Philip Klausmeyer. We extend our thanks to the Registration Department, specifically Sarah Gillis, who handled our many rights and reproduction requests; photographer Steve Briggs; and Maat Manninen, who cheerfully coordinated our numerous loans. Worcester Art Museum’s head librarian, Debby Aframe, not only acquired copious books, articles, and pamphlets for our research, but she also served as an important liaison to the students of our Clark seminar. Within Marketing, Communications, and Design, our thanks goes to Julieane Frost, Tim Furman, and especially graphic designer Kim Noonan, who took on the herculean task of designing our catalogue under formidable time constraints. In addition to many of those already mentioned, various staff members met with seminar students, including Jan Ewick and Katrina Stacy. We appreciate the efforts of the Development team, notably Karmen Bogdesic, Madeline Grim, and Nora Maroulis. We were also lucky to work with copy editor Jane Takac Panza, whose expert eye spared the reader various errors in style and grammar. We especially benefited from Clark University LEEP intern Hannah Jaffe’s research and assistance during the summer of 2015, as well as the continued research and support of print room assistant Lauren Szumita right up until the printing of this catalogue. Lastly, we are grateful for the support of the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, Jon Seydl, and the C. Jean and Myles McDonough Director of Worcester Art Museum, Matthias Waschek. Nancy Kathryn Burns Assistant Curator, Prints, Drawings and Photographs Worcester Art Museum Kristina Wilson Associate Professor of Art History Clark University
For their work on the installation and design of the exhibition, we thank the Exhibition Design and Fabrication Department, especially Patrick Brown and Anne Greene. In Conservation we are grateful for the significant research and thoughtful treatments provided by paper conservator Eliza Spaulding. Further, reattributing the media line on our Edward Steichen photograph Jean Simpson in Profile would have been impossible without the FTIR and XRF tests conducted by the museum’s conservation scientist,
WO RCE STE R A RT MUSEUM / worcesterart.org 1
Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period by Nancy Kathryn Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and Kristina Wilson, A...
Published on Feb 10, 2016
Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period by Nancy Kathryn Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and Kristina Wilson, A...