----- Original Message ----- From: "Christina Z. Anderson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:56 AM
Subject: Re: Mortensen
Oh what a wonderful story, Richard!!! When someone reacts so strongly to another, what do you think the fear about Mortensen was? I wonder if he was just so obnoxious, or if they thought schlocky nudes would take over the world or whatnot...There is a fair amount of biographical material about Mortensen on the web which a Google search will find.
Personally, I find him a facinating mixture of charlatan and genuine artist. His work is in many ways unclassifiable, it is not really pictorialism. His books are also a curious mixture: some of the technical stuff is quite conventional and correct, some just plain off the wall. But, much of the writing was actually done by George Dunham, who was Mortensen's darkroom "assistant" and also a frequent model. Dunham evidently understood sensitometry and, I think, was responsible for the explanations of the relation between development and contrast. Mortensen, on the other hand, was the one to pushed stagnant (AKA stand) development and some other strange techniques. These would have frequently resulted in difficult to print negatives and I wonder if that was the real motivation for the Abrasion Tone process and some other manipulative techniques used in many Mortensen pictures.
Also, Mortensen was well known for producing good three color carbon prints but I have never seen one on display. One story is that Dunham stole many of them because he had actually made them. OTOH, three color carbon or carbro prints seem to be very rarely seen in exhibitions.
Los Angeles, CA, USA