Cut Paper Abstracts
I have a small book by Frederick Sommer on this subject and I have one other image in a historical photography book. Other than that, I don't have many examples of this genre, one of my favories. Can anyone point me to B&W work of this type on the web or in print?
I have dabbled in it myself but I am intereste in looking at the sork of others.
There are quite a few examples in the new big retrospective book by Sommer. And there are examples in other Sommer books as well. If you are interested in that work you might also be interested in taking a look at the work of Francis Brugiere's (1880-1945). It is probable that Sommer go tthe idea for making photographs of cut paper from Brugiere. In the hardbound copy of Photographers on Photography (a great book that should be in everyone's library (1966, edited by Nathan Lyons), there is one example of his cut-paper work. The hardbound copies are rare. The softbound copies have the text, but no reproductions. SInce most of the photographers in the book are well-known, the softbound copies are fine, unless you are looking for something specific like Mike is.
There is also a critical biography of Brugiere by James Enyeart. There are 137 reproductions and while I have not seen this book since it came out over 30 years ago I am sure there are a number of reproductions of his photographs of cut paper. (I didn't mention this before until I could find a copy for myself--which I just did. There are two others at bookfinder.com.) Ah, the books one doesn't get when they first come out. There is always regret.
I discovered him via David Kachel's article, Fine Print Making Secrets, here;
I also did a little googling ("carl chiarenza", paper) and found this;
(added later) He also has two books, "Landscapes Of The Mind", and, "Evocations"...you just gotta LOVE the Internet!
Well, yes, Carl Chiarenza works with paper, but not "cut paper" as Sommer did. He works with paper in a collage/asemblage sense. Should you or anyone else be interested, we are publishing a book of Carl's work--photographs made especially for the book--as Number Two in the Lodima Press Portfolio Book series. For subscribers to the series the book will sell for only $19.95. For those who just want this title the price is $24.95.
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Hi there Mike & Michael,
OOPS! I didn't realize there was such a "clear cut" distinction between torn and cut paper photographs. My D'oh.
Hey Michael, if you're going to advertise here, why not become a Sponsor ?
Has anyone tried their hand at this technique? I have done some and it's pretty easy to do, you know like putting paint on canvas is easy. Just put paint on brush and spread on canvas, nothin' to it.
It is a surprisingly interesting technique. You can cut lines into a 'pleasing' shape and photograph the entire thing. You can cut many different shapes into the paper and photograph sections, sort of discovering pleasing abstract patterns after you've cut the paper (Brugiere has an especially pleasing example of this) and Sommer did it on the front cover of his little cut paper book.
I've also experimented with cutting the paper and them using tape and string behind the paper to hold the cut-out sections in various placements - then it almost becomes a sculpture. Lighting the paper is a very big element to how the final image comes out, diffuse, backlit and side lighting all create different effects. I am thinking of wadding the paper up into a ball first, flattening it out and then cutting it to get different texture to the paper.
I use a standard roll of brown wrapping paper, attach it to a 16x20 picture frame and then cut away with an x-acto knife. I may have one piece of paper up for a week or more, coming up with different ideas for new cuts. Other times, it's just free-form and take what you get.
I find it does not take much skill to do the cutting. The hard part is what is a 'pleasing shape' and 'when do I stop cutting'. I just leave it all up to intuition - somehow I'll just know when enough is enough. Other times, I just wad up the paper and toss it if looks like a mess. It's a right-brain process (see avatar).
I have another idea that I'm going to try with my new 7x17. I think cut paper abstracts with this format could be an interesting new use of this format - it seems like a nice change from the standard landscapes, seascapes, etc. that we see with this format. I think making oblong cut-paper abstracts, letting parts of the paper sag forward, assorted lighting techniques and shallow DOF could make for interesting images. With the cost of 7x17 film what it is (like $4 a shot), I'll experiment with 4x10 first.
This is a great winter type of project, BTW. Really helps pass the rainy winters we have here in the Upper Left. So, I'll save the project until then and take advantage of the long sunny days we are enjoying now.
Please share any personal experiences you have with this technique, if any.