U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: archivalness of gum

Re: archivalness of gum

As further blather related to Diana's post . . years ago I knew Henry Wilhelm very slightly and in a couple of conversations w/him found that
the Agfa color paper I had used, which was a Type B VS Kodak's Type A material, was the worst ever in the history of color photography for
fading etc. I had "invented" a speeded up process that cut time from something like 45 minutes in the dark to about 5 or 6 minutes under a
safe light . . . anyway, I still have those prints and though there is some fading, they look pretty darned good and that was in the mid to late
FYI . . there once was two 'types' of color paper: Kodak's w/an encapsulated color coupler released by benzyl alcohol as I remember and the Agfa
type that was water based. The water based material faded quickly. I wonder if they made it today, like our greatly improved latex paints, if they
might last longer and be safer to the environment.

On December2007, at 1:34 PM, Diana Bloomfield wrote:

That's funny about the C-prints, Jack. I was once turned away by a gallery owner, after showing him a whole series of C-prints I did on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. He refused to show them, because he said C-prints (even on this Fuji paper) didn't have a lifetime of more than 7 years. That seemed like a very limited lifespan to me; I'm not sure if they were supposed to turn to ash or simply fade away at the 7 year mark, but I still have some of those C-prints (now close to 12 years since they were first printed), and the colors are certainly as vibrant and as rich as they were the day they were printed. Of course, I've kept them stored well, but still . . .

I agree about just making the work.


On Dec 20, 2007, at 4:12 PM, jfulton wrote:

Oh, heck, they (curators) surely vary don't they. However, IF they like your work, which may well be predicated as to how
others in the media reported on your work, they will purchase. Take Stephen Shore, whose early color work, all faded 'n
all that, is purchased AS faded, original stuff. Look at how a Sherry Levine's Walker Evans platinum print sells for MORE
than the original. I sold a portfolio to an un-named museum who did not want the archival digital prints nor the lovely
gorgeous beautiful case but wished to have what they called C- Prints. Don't worry, be happy, make your work.

On December2007, at 9:59 AM, Judy Seigel wrote:

I absolutely REFUSE to comment in response to some asshole "curator" who decides gum can't do fine detai.... oh that's a different one, I meant to say isn't archival...

And Diana... you had a print buyer who insisted on inkjet pigment prints... which I found fascinating. Did you get any idea why? (Whichever, congratulations on the sale !) Do you suppose even from the most archival printer they're more archival than gum?

And just what is it about gum that's supposed to be non archival -- as if it matters. I myself think that folks who assume there's going to be a civilisation on this old globe in 200 years that's capable of caring whether a print in some flooded, bombed, or otherwise relic "museum" has faded from its presumed pristine state... hasn't got enough in their head to stuff a strudel.

Of course archivality is also a factor of the storage, the frame, the paper, and so forth... but good grief, that's the kind of preciosity gives me a pain in the brain... This from the culture that lionizes graffiti done with spray paints on crumbling masonry... cherishes singed posters and fragmented documents, but frets that a gum print may not be perfectly archival... (to NO evidence, in fact against all evidence, if it matters).

Why? That's a no brainer -- because they know diddle about photography and double diddle about its history and triple diddle about why it could even be art. That is, they have no idea about photography being actual art. But they can understand in their little pea brains about "archival" --- they've probably never SEEN a gum print older than 30 years... but they feel free to sound off...

I suppose I should apologize for being, um, so outspoken -- but that "curator" should apologize: This argument about archivality is an insult to photography. Some of the most important prints and drawings not to mention paintings in the Western canon (not to mention tribal art) are melting, yellowing, crumbling, etc. before our eyes... And when the Italians, Greeks and Egyptians demand the Getty give their broken & cracked sculptures back, they don't worry about archival..

Why? Because they KNOW that's art. (Sublime, in fact.) But they don't know that photography... even a platinum print (though the total platinum would sell for more on e-bay then their own chemical constituents) is judged by its archivality. Tell them to, um, and go look at some old prints, like the yellowed and fading Rembrandts of holy awe.

PS. Diana -- you mentioned that you printed your "collection" on Hahnemuhl -- which one? I've done a lot of gums on Hahnemuhl & find it one of the best, but would love to try one that will also print in a printer, in case I haven't.

And also, by the way, gum over platinum is an historic process -- if memory serves (which I can't promise, MEMORY is NOT archival) Paul Anderson (heh heh) did it, but also I think Heinrich Kuhn, among others. I believe it was fairly well known... Then again there were many kinds of "platinum" including a commercial "platinum paper" -- who was the Englishman who swore he'd stop photographing when that paper was discontinued? He had the same name as a photo historian or other pioneer, but ... as noted, this memory is not archival.

meanwhile, best to all...

non-archival Judy

Hey Chris-- Isn't platinum the most archival process? At least, that's what I always tell people. I'm sure I read that somewhere. I did have someone ask me an interesting question recently that I never thought to ask anybody-- but I had made a gum over platinum print, and this person suggested that by using gum over the platinum, I was harming the platinum in some way-- or, at least, somehow removing the archival nature of the platinum, since-- this person said-- gum isn't archival. I think this person was only *assuming* that gum isn't archival-- really didn't know for sure-- but I thought it was an interesting question.

On Dec 20, 2007, at 10:30 AM, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:

Good morning all!
This may be a question for Gawain Weaver as I don't know who else on the list is "in the know".
I have always read/thought/been told that gum along with carbon is the most archival process there is.
I heard a comment the other day from a museum curator who said it was "not the most archival process".
Now, I know that certain pigments used in the past were NOT lightfast. Gamboge, alizarin crimson, etc. were pigments that faded thru time we now know and the watercolor painters know, too. Also, I know that if you leave the dichromate stain in as a darker brown addition underneath the gum layer, through time in sunlight that image will fade to gossamer green and therefore the print will lighten **somewhat** (found a cute little article on that fact about gum prints "fading on the walls of exhibitions"). But if using archival pigments and also taking into account the slight tone difference of an added dichromate stain now that we are not cooking our prints with heavy 100% sodium dichromates, etc.,, aren't gum prints really archival?? Anyone have gum prints that have not lasted? I've seen Kuehn's and Demachy's but unfortunately, photography is a relatively new art and thus we only have about 170 years of evidence.
Unfortunately, I left my only conservation book (thanks, Gawain) at home and I am in FL for 3 wk--writing my gum book at least!
Christina Z. Anderson
Assistant Professor
Photo Option Coordinator
Montana State University
Box 173350
Bozeman, MT 59717