Fifty years ago, the influential photographer and educator Todd Walker (1917-1998) had the first solo show featuring his unique color-coupled Sabattier silver-gelatin prints that would become a hallmark of Walker’s style. That 1970 exhibition was at Helen Johnston’s pioneering Focus Gallery (1966-1987) in San Francisco which was the first West Coast gallery to exclusively champion photography as fine art. To celebrate this milestone, we are pleased to share with a new generation of collectors a selection of authenticated vintage prints that were part of the personal collection of the photographer’s estate. These prints are available to view in person by appointment at our San Jose, CA salon space.
The Sabattier “solarization” process of printmaking was popularized by Man Ray and Lee Miller in the 1920s and 30s, but it had fallen out of favor by the time Todd Walker began his own exploration of the method in the late 60s. Wanting a timeless subject unbound by period and clothing style, Walker chose the classic female nude. He avoided professional models and their contrived poses and instead preferred amateur models and dancers. Capitalizing on his experience as a young Hollywood set builder (RKO Studios and Citizen Kane), he created structures in his personal studio for the models to interact in a uniquely expressive fashion. His combination of shooting style and alternative print processing allows these photographs to portray a more authentic quality of gesture, mood, and emotion.
Todd Walker (1917-1998) was a creative experimenter and innovator of photographic processes, materials and printmaking methods with a career that spanned nearly 60 years. In the mid-Sixties, Todd left a successful career in commercial photography to explore a more artistic path for his personal work by revisiting historic processes like collotypes, gum printing, Van Dyke brown and Sabattier and Todd had a hand in leading the resurgence of these “alternative processes” being taught in the 1970s and are now a staple in any photography coursework today. Walker was an influential educator who taught with Robert Heinecken at UCLA, Jerry Uelsmann at the University of Florida and Harold Jones at the University of Arizona and CCP.