U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: oil printing

Re: oil printing

Chris wrote:

Demachy practiced gum for over a decade, about 12 years, and then was wooed away by oil printing, the Rawlins process which came on the horizon in 1904.
One of my references said the "Rawlins" process was by Rawlin's time 17 years old, but had attracted little attention previously... My theory on why is that Rawlins (like the Gum-Oil-Guy whose name I still forget) was just a better promoter. He didn't explain or give a formula for the "oil" -- he made it and SOLD it ! (Gum-Oil-Guy described the wonders of his process with a glowing introduction in those photo press articles, just enough to suck the reader in, THEN left him/her hanging with "see my book.")

He continued to do gum for a couple more years (1906), then abandoned it altogether to concentrate on oil printing. He exhibited 53 oil prints (!) at the RPS in 1907. No wonder he abandoned gum at that time with that prolificity. THEN he quit photography all together in 1914. He didn't die until 1936 so it wasn't that he was close to death. Jay says no one knows why he abandoned photography but he did go to sketching...So his work was mostly produced over a period of 20 yr, 12 of which were gum and 10 oil.

A book that is really good on Demachy is Robert Demachy by Bill Jay.
Oh boy/girl did I hate that book... had it or saw it or read it in the long long ago, but still recall some of his truisms, not to mention all the naked ladies that Jay found in Demachy... Now, in fact, checking my review of Jay's book "Ockham's Razor" (in P-F #2), I find:

"I admit not having heard of Jay until 1989 when he failed to stop himself from distributing the message quoted next paragraph. Since then, I have failed to stop myself from observing his predilections. Jay's book, "Views on Nudes," would be better called "Views on 20-something Female Nudes," since that's what it is, with the exception of a very few blurred, small, side or rear views of men. His book on Demachy would be better called 'Demachy's Female Nudes with a Few Other Views Thrown In'.... However, his interest in women with their clothes on seems limited. His book, "The Photographers," has 88 bios, only two of which are for women, and they, it turns out, are not themselves photographers, but service providers helpful to Jay personally..."

The "next paragraph" I referred to quoted Jay on the subject of the Women's Caucus of the Society for Photographic Education, when in 1989 he distributed a paper at the SPE convention accusing them of "scurrilous feminist propaganda, vulgar remarks and savagery... [a bunch of] teeth clenching revolutionaries... a nasty little pimple on the face of photographic education [and not] real artists or real photographers." True, that wasn't a shining moment for SPE, but conditions for women in academia pre-women's caucus were blood curdling.

Sometimes, however, Jay was an equal-opportunity insulter... for instance, explaining why "So Few writers on Photography are worth Reading" (aside from himself of course), he says "photography does not tend to attract those with the most brilliant minds and criticism is primarily a mental activity. [That is,] most photographers are not mental heavyweights." And so forth. My own comment, after wondering where his ideas on photographers' mental weight came from (his students? his friends") was that "the photographers I know seem noticeably brighter than the run of other profssionals, as do even a few photograpy writers."

However, that's not what I meant to say, which is that my next-- or next after next -- e-mail will be a list of oil printing references... and FINALLY to mention that MANY photographers have in old age, or post-photography life, turned to sketching, drawing &/or painting.

For instance Cartier-Bresson and Lartigue are two who come immediately to mind. There have been many others, in fact I've been struck by how many photogs, including Demachy did just that...