Books on Pictorialism?

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by Chazzy, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I have been trying to read up on Pictorialism lately, and while I have seen several titles about such individual photographers as F. Holland Day and Gertrude Käsebier, the only general works I have been able to find are _Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession_, and a general survey of Pictorialism after 1910. I have seen some Steichen prints from his Pictorialist period in _Steichen's Legacy_. Any suggestions for further reading?

    I have already read a couple of general histories of photography (including Beaumont Newhall's), and there wasn't a lot on Pictorialism there.

    Thanks, and Happy New Year,

    Charles
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Gertrude Kasebier is one of my favorite photographers. Even though she's very pictorial, her sitters are so modern looking, and really engaged in life. There was a show of her work at the National Gallery in Washington, DC in 1992 or so, and the accompanying book "Gertrude Kasebier: The Photographer and Her Photographs" by Barbara L. Micheals is excellent. Great essays on Kasebier, and contemporaries such as Steiglitz, and Clarence White among others. As far as I can tell, the book is out of print, but you should try Photo-eye.com. They have a lot of out of print titles.

    Good luck!
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    An excellent book I bought a couple of years ago at Barnes and Noble is "Pictorialism into Modernism: The Clarence H. White School of Photograpy", edited by Marianne Fulton with texts by Bonnie Yochelson and Kathleen A. Erwin. It's published by Rizzoli, New York, George Eastman House In Association with the Detroit Institue of Arts.

    I've enjoyed reading it a great deal...an antidote to the myopically exclusive assessment of 20th century photography purveyed by Beaumont Newhall et. al. (to whom I'm nonetheless grateful for all they offer.)
    The photographs are often revelatory and the text is a compelling account of the 'other' fine art and commercial take on image making that preceded and co-existed with the Steiglitz (though he was an early champion), Weston, Adams approach to modernism. Worth your finding and perusing!
     
  4. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    I have "The Dream of Beauty" about Frank Eugene and "A Poetic Vision:The Photographs of Anne Brigman." Both are good reads.

    I also acquired an exhibition catalog entitled "Intimations and Imaginings" on George H. Seeley, which was disappointing. That's a shame since Seeley is probably my favorite photographer next to Steichen.

    One of these days I'll get around to reading "The Fine Art of Photography" by Paul Anderson and "Landscape and Figure Composition" by Sadakichi Hartmann. The latter has images by Stieglitz, White, Brigman, Kasabier, Steichen, Demachy and Eickmeyer among others. (All contemporaries of Hartmann at the time those two books were written. They are both long OOP and rare.) It appears to be a very good book based on skimming through it.

    I also have a book on Demachy which was OK, but I forget the title and don't have it on hand.

    Joe
     
  5. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Given their reliance on pictorial traditions born in painting, research Victorian and Academie painters and work your way back. Theorists in painting like Poore, Ruskin, Delsarte are good. Skip Tolstoy and probably Goethe and Aristotle.
     
  6. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Just thought of a couple other books with plenty of nice work. One is "The Art of Pictorial Photography 1890-1925" part of the Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University. Thin on text but a nice catalog of Pictorialist works held by that institution.

    The second is a book entitled "Gustave Marissiaux: La possibilitie de l'art". Another very nicely illustrated monograph but unfortunately the text is only in French so I am at a loss to comment on that aspect.

    C'est la vie.

    Joe
     
  7. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I just read the Michaels book on Gertrude Käsebier (found it at the library), and I agree that it is wonderful. Thanks for the suggestion about Photo-eye.com--I've never heard of them. The book would be worth buying for the portrait of "Miss N." (Evelyn Nesbitt) alone. Was there ever a more beautiful portrait?

    Thanks again,

    Charles
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Glad you found that book. It's one of my favorites. And no... Miss N is about as perfect a portrait as you'll ever see!!

    Cheers,
    Suzanne
     
  9. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    One of many good sources for used and new books that I use is Bookfinder.com.
    Currently they show:

    Michaels, Barbara L.
    * Gertrude Kasebier: The Photographer and Her Photographs
    * Gertrude Käsebier

    Innes Homer, William
    * A Pictorial Heritage: The Photographs of Gertrude Kasebier

    Tucker, Anne, edited and with An Introduction by
    * Woman's Eye - Selections From the Work of Gertrude Kasebier, FrancesBenjamin Johnston, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Berenice Abbott,Barbara Morgan, Diane Arbus, Alisa Wells, Judy Dater, Bea Nettles

    Good luck,

    John Powers
     
  10. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Don't overlook the books with all the illustrations from "Camera Notes," and "Camera Works." Personally, I find the "pictorial" stuff nauseating.
     
  11. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    it looks its going to be a bit difficult time for you, in these days of growing popularity of pictoralism. I'm not going to give you address of my web gallery, there is a risk to vomit on your keyboard if you look at it.
     
  12. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Do you? Or do you just find cloying sentimentality nauseating? One can be pictorialist without being hopelessly twee. Though you have to admit that many of the most famous pictorialists probably had studios full of Hummell figurines.

    (My personal definition of sentimentality is a grasp at unearned emotions: the preprogrammed cheap shot of cuteness of wistfulness or sadness. Of course, a lot of folks just eat that up (including, say, the standard symbols of athletic victory that we see in the sports pages: see Diane Hagaman's essay for a nice recap). But I like the actor's rule of thumb: "When material is sentimental, sentimentality will turn audience off. It's a trap: that it's a sentimental scene. Play against the trap, play against sentimental. The audience wants to see people overcome their difficulties. Worst trap of all: self pity." I think that can apply quite nicely to photography too)
     
  13. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Pictoralism is photograpy's answer to Thomas Kincade's paintings.
     
  14. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    That should have been Thomas Kinkade (painter of light).
     
  15. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Juraj,

    I thought that your bromoils looked very nice, insofar as it is possible to appreciate them in a website presentation. I wish I could see the original prints.

    I'm afraid I don't understand why the old conflict of Pictorialism and straight photography is haunting this thread. There were masterpieces made in both styles of photography, as well as duds. And then there were people like Steichen who worked successfully in both.

    I'm hardly the person to ask about trends in photography, but it seems to me that Pictorialism is making something of a comeback. Witness the renewed interest in soft-focus lenses and alternative processes, for example.

    Thanks for all your suggestions on books--this has been very helpful.

    Charles
     
  16. garryl

    garryl Member

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    Don't forget that there has been 3 generations that have been taught that
    "sharp is only good ". I really think time has come when the bloom of rendered minute detail rose has lost it's beauty.I too have found good in both schools.
     
  17. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    Thank you, Charles, for your nice words. About my note - it looks my tmeper was a few degree up when I wrote it.

    I can accept that somebody assume bromoil as not interesting or boring or as something he/she is not looking for, but to use the word "nauseating" looks a bit strong, specially in the thread dedicated to pictorialism books...
     
  18. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I first got into photograpy, pictorialism just looked silly to me. But, now it has come full circle, and I think some of the work the pictorialists did is wonderful There's plenty of sentimental stuff among them (a la Thomas Kincaid), but there are some really great images too, and I consider Kasebier among the best of the lot. Nothing sentimental in her work. I think it's interesting that the pictorialists are finally getting their due, and that alternative porcesses such as pt/pd, bromoil, gum printing, are becomng so popular again. I think there is a tactile quality in those prints that are lovely, to call them nauseating, seems a bit over the top.
     
  19. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Pictorialsm, at least according to Clarence White, was about making and designing photographs in a manner similar to the practices of artists, i.e. wherever possibe, to arrange the elements of a composition in ways that were the most expressive and well constructed. In so far as White was an influence, there isn't anything that a modernist would have a problem with in that regard, in fact Ansel Adams made a dedicatory speech at the newly housed incarnation of White's school of photography in 1940.

    Pictorialism didn't exclude tack sharp photograph at all as long as the image was well designed. As a 'movement' it was just a lot more open to a wide variety of processes that included some that were anathema to modernists. (Weston's doggerel about 'gummists' for example.)

    At this juncture in the history of photography, it no longer seems necessary to make the case for photographs as art...popular and rarified tastes as well as the marketplace have made it abundantly clear that that battle is won. It's no surprise to me, in this era of photoshopped photofictions, that the art world that now includes photography as a full fledged partner is embracing alternative processes and other non-modernist imagemaking as well as traditional straight photography. I, for one, embrace the variety enthusiastically. I'll keep the one's I like and reject the ones I don't regardless of their provenence.
     
  20. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Charles,

    Another approach to finding books on pictorialism might be to look at the first sections of books on the people who made up the f64 or straight photography crowd. Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham prior to about 1918-20 would fit. As i understand it they didn't start shooting "straight", but converted from pictorialism.

    John Powers
     
  21. garryl

    garryl Member

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    If you find any "American Annual of Photography" up to 1950's, you can see a lot of Pictorialism.
    Frank R.Fraprie (editor) was one of the last champions of the movement.
     
  22. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Well to a degree, but in a self-conscious and self-referential way that would seem most alien to Clarence White or Ms Kasebier. One can't map Jerry Spagnoli or Stephen Berkman onto 1905 simply because of the materials they choose to employ. The meaning and purposes of those processes are deeply altered.
     
  23. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Do not confuse the genre of "Pictorialism" (making photographs which attempt to look like paintings) with those techniques often used around the turn of the century to simulate painterly imagery (dark, soft-focus images with no detail in the shadows or highlights, and usually accompanied by dreamy captions from romantic Victorian novels).