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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.

NotEs 1

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

Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period  

Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period Edited by Nancy Kathryn Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Kristina Wilson...