Collector's Guide

We would like to share a little insight into the myriad of methods and processes used by our photographic artists. As specialists in alternative and experimental photography, GALLERY 1/1 gets the opportunity to see firsthand the many ways that artists venture outside of the traditional boundaries of photography.  This guide is not exhaustive by any means but highlights nine technique categories and example artworks made by our artists. These include Chemigram, Cliché Verre & Cameraless Negatives, Collage & Photomontage, Cyanotype & Van Dyke, Hand-Manipulated Prints, Photogram, Pinhole, Alternative Materials, and Sabattier (Solarization).

 

Most of the artwork featured in this guide is framed and ready to hang on your wall. Take advantage of our free shipping and add a unique one-of-a-kind print to your collection today.


CHEMIGRAM

This technique was developed by Pierre Cordier in the 1950s and it utilizes very painterly applications of developer and fixer chemistry to silver-gelatin paper in combination with various “resists” much like how wax is used in batik to block dyes to the fabric. These resists creatively block how the chemistry and light react with the photo paper. This unorthodox method can give black and white paper the chance to produce some colorful variations it normally would not. Chemigram prints are fantastic examples of being able to see the “hand of the artist” in the print. We present two artists, Thomas Condon a painter turned photographic artist whose expressive use of this technique is transformative and Bridget Conn whose intuitive experimentations in the darkroom have created prints you’d never guess were done with monochrome paper.

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CLICHÉ VERRE & CAMERALESS NEGATIVES

There are a lot of creative ways to make a translucent sheet besides a standard film negative that can have light pass through it and expose a print.  One way is cliché verre, French for “glass picture,” and has been used since the very early days of photography. Historically a glass plate would be coated in smoke soot and then an artist would draw through it making a glass negative without using a camera.  (Think of you drawing a smiley face on a steamed-up bathroom mirror.) Heinz Hajek-Halke (1898-1983) was one of Germany’s most influential photographers and he was a pioneer of the cameraless Lichtgrafik movement of experimental printmaking.  He would make glass negatives that incorporated all sorts of materials to create surreal and abstract drawings with light. Henry Holmes Smith (1909 - 1986) was chosen by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy to teach the first photography class at the New Bauhaus (Chicago) in 1937 and went on to have a long and distinguished career as an educator and innovative artist. Here we have a fine example of his "refraction drawing" photograms made by shining light through Karo syrup poured on glass plates. Charles Lindsay won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for his CARBON series of prints made from unique hand-drawn carbon emulsion negatives. We are pleased to have available the last of the original one-of-a-kind prints remaining from this series.  

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COLLAGE & PHOTOMONTAGE

There is a long history of physically cutting and tearing printed images and reimagining the composite before the ubiquity of digital media and methods made it commonplace. Natalie Obermaier is an LA-based portrait photographer who is re-appropriating and deconstructing the glossy pages of fashion magazines into collage and “manipulates the manipulated” seeking to express something truer, hand-made and authentic. John O’Reilly is a master collagist with a 50 year career and is best known for his polaroid photomontages combining elements of art history, gay erotica and self portraits to tell his own personal narrative. Sarah Hadley combines both digital and analog methods of montaging to create a final print with alternating layers of illusion. Mary Pinto makes analog chromogenic photograms (see more about photograms below) of her garden plants and the pages of the NY Times and then cuts and collages her unique prints to tell new stories about sanctuary. Joseph Minek uses the power of collage to repurpose and give new meaning the dozens of small photographic masks that are remnants of his process in creating his series of large abstract photogram prints. They genuinely become more than the sum of their parts.

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CYANOTYPE & VAN DYKE

These two historic processes of applying an iron-based light-sensitive solution to paper date back to the beginning of photography with John Herschel in the 1840’s.  Cyanotype is the “blue print” and Van Dyke is the “brown print” and they are a classic mainstay of alternative process practitioners. Many exciting contemporary approaches are employed by artists today.  Paula Riff’s combinations of cyanotype photograms printed on her own hand-marbled papers give the prints an ethereal psychedelic quality.  Melanie Walker’s innovative creations of cyanotypes stretched across handmade bamboo armatures are an homage to the stick chart maps used by Marshall Islanders to navigate sea currents. Harrison Walker’s Van Dyke Portal prints are a conceptual exercise with chemistry like a Sol LeWitt wall drawing where repetition and variance lead to enhanced perceptions of texture, surface, and color.

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HAND-MANIPULATED PRINTS

This section is not technique specific but encompasses the variety of ways an artist might apply their final artistic touches to a photograph before declaring it a finished work of art. First, we have the evocative hand-painted silver gelatin prints by Aline Smithson. Each print begins as a collage of negatives from her travels with sheets of poetic text that are assembled in the darkroom enlarger to craft a gorgeous black and white which she later hand-paints in oils. Kurt Wendland (1917-1998) an influential German painter, illustrator, and photographer also used silver-gelatin printings of travel landscapes as a starting point like Aline. His photographs acted more as an initial sketch on the linen photo-canvas to which he added layers of paint and ink to create a final artwork that has an interesting element of transparency. Ross Sonnenberg is known for his cameraless photograms that use exploding fireworks as the light source and in his Ring of Fire series, he takes those Big Bang inspired prints a step further by harnessing the power of our own star with a magnifying lens and burns his final marks into the print.  Andrew Thompson cuts, chemically attacks, and then mends with stitches his chromogenic prints of the southern California landscape to reference how our environmental degradation can never be truly restored without leaving scars. Andrew Sovjani blurs the lines between photography and printmaking with his unique applications of hand-drawn photochemistry mark-making and toning. His work investigates our perception of space and light within the two-dimensional surface of a print. Antonio J. Martinez is intrigued by the confluence of intimacy and violence in MMA cage fighting which he artistically expresses with prints of fighters in the ring that he has been physically abraded and scratched by hand to give the final print a timeless painter quality. Jonas Yip took long expired Polaroid instant film that he could no longer trust to produce a viable photographic image and manipulated the unexposed print’s emulsion by hand to create abstracts more reminiscent of the traditional Chinese Shan Shui “mountain/water” landscape paintings. 

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PHOTOGRAM

Generally speaking, a photogram is any kind of analog print that was made without a camera.  Some of the very early historical photographic prints were photograms like William Fox Talbot's contact prints of lace or Anna Atkins’ botanical cyanotypes. In the Modern era, Man Ray popularized photograms with some creative branding dubbing them Rayographs. In essence, you just need light, an object, and some photosensitive material. At GALLERY 1/1 we a have soft spot for cameraless prints and work with several artists who take the idea of a photogram to a higher level. It could be said that Brianna Tadeo’s Blood Prints are a simple series of chromogenic photograms of animal parts, but in reality, it is sophisticated combination of handmade photochemistry derived from blood, organic materials from her local butcher that are decomposing and reacting with the paper’s emulsion, plus the artist moving the objects around on the paper during the hour-long exposure window. The result is a beautiful abstract expression of life, death and the compression of time. DM Whitman’s celestial silver-gelatin photograms are made with objects that are still alive. She corrals slugs for a sleepover in her darkroom where they wander all night long across large sheets of photo paper before they are returned to the wild the next morning.  She leaves her darkroom red safelight on during the nocturnal adventure giving the prints an exciting combination of light-based photogram, subtle slug slime chemical reactions, and illustrative mark-making done by the slugs munching through the gelatin emulsion. The results are prints that at first glance appear to be the imagery of massive stars hurtling through space at light speed and are in fact made by slow and seeming insignificant creatures here on Earth.  Daniel Kukla’s photograms are made sans object with just light, chemistry and paper. He hand-sculpts silver-gelatin sheets into topological shapes inspired by the at-risk glaciers of Alaska, he then sprinkles dry photochemistry along the ridgelines, pours water that washes the chemistry downhill mimicking glacial melt and then exposes the print to light. The result is a one-of-a-kind photo sculpture that gives us a tangible way to contemplate the effects of climate change. In their simplest form, photograms lack a three-dimensional quality as they often are just a representation of an object’s shadow cast on the paper and not an image of the object. Initially, Jenna Kuiper’s photograms don’t look like photograms at all but instead, look like a camera-based image of 3D geometric objects. This illusion is exactly what the trained still-life painter was hoping to achieve when she draws with light in the darkroom. Through an elaborate combination of paper cutouts, painterly dogging and burning and meticulous timing Jenna creates silver-gelatin still life prints that defy initial assumptions.

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pinhole

A pinhole camera employs the most elemental principals of optical physics.  A tiny hole (aperture) that acts as the lens to project light onto a dark enclosed surface. If the surface is photosensitive in some way, then voilà you have a pinhole camera. If you are of a certain age, you might remember using an oatmeal tube, pop can, needle and lots of tape to make your own in middle school. We have two interesting examples of how to use a pinhole camera to incredible artistic effect. Ross Faircloth folds silver-gelatin paper into a four-sided pyramid with a pinhole lens at the tip. He then takes the pinhole out into the Texas countryside and leaves it for days or weeks at a time before he collects it and returns to the darkroom where he pries it open and develops it. The final print is the camera, a paper negative and photo object all in one. Robert Calafiore’s pinhole experience is studio-based with simple hand-built boxes and an actual aluminum can pinhole, but the images he produces are much more sophisticated than the camera. Robert shoots directly to color negative chromogenic paper so every hue reflected from the subject into the camera is rendered on the paper in the color opposite, i.e. red becomes cyan.  So, to create a final print that with color combinations that he imagines, Robert has to constantly think in color opposites and arrange his subjects (usually vintage glassware and nude models) accordingly. The results are vibrant prints that have an otherworldly look and feel.

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ALTERNATIVE MATERIALS

This category is for prints made on materials other than standard photo paper. We work with two artists who predominantly employ found vintage materials which require a level of skill and commitment that we applaud. They create custom imagery that is specific for their chosen materials. Their margin for error when printing is tiny. You don’t get a second chance to reprint on a 120-year-old heirloom cabinet card for example. Rachel Phillips regularly uses the process of pigment transfer to seamlessly place her own visions onto found materials like Victorian-era cabinet cards and vintage envelopes. Rachel tells new stories with hand-crafted photo objects that conjure the past into the present. Robert Flynt has had an extensive career reimagining the human body with montages printed on various found materials. His recent works we present are unique laser print monotypes on the pages of vintage textbooks, illustrations, and maps that give them new life and context. 

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SABATTIER (SOLARIZATION)

This experimental effect popularized in the 1930s by Man Ray is achieved by re-exposing a silver gelatin print to a flash of light during development. The effects are blackened highlights, mid-tones that are slightly reversed, and shadows that remain unchanged revealing graphic outlines around the edges of elements in the prints. This creates surreal and dreamy imagery that has successfully lent itself to figurative work. These are not true technical solarizations but that is the term Man Ray coined and it is still often referenced with respect to vintage prints. Current practitioners are more likely to use the term Sabattier, the surname of the process’s 1862 inventor. We have vintage 1940’s prints of “solarized” nudes by Andreas Feininger (1906-1999) that feel very Modern and of the era as well as circa 1970 vintage prints by Todd Walker (1917-1998) that are both psychologically emotive and timeless.

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