U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Truth Beauty book

Re: Truth Beauty book

On Wed, 13 May 2009, Jack Brubaker wrote:

Chris wrote

What I cannot understand, though (forgive my opinion here), is that
generation's fascination with the Michallet paper that had strong vertical
Chris, when I look at the Demachy prints I see someone trying to make
photos look like chalk drawings. He chooses the red chalk color and
uses the tiniest brushes lifting out highlights to emulate academic
drawing standards of the 19th century. One of the prints in the St.
Louis show a couple of years ago of fishermen pushing their boat up
onto the beach had remarkable details in the hands. Knuckles that we
would understand without further delineation in a photo he had
carefully highlighted no matter how dense the shadow it hovered in.

I love the prints but think it is a very interesting look into the era
that he felt compelled to such extremes. In that context his use of
common drawing paper texture seems a natural.

Exactly... besides which, they didn't have the factory materials we have now. The story of the invention of gum printing is that Demachy was in his photo supply shop (ca 1896), complaining that with the current material he couldn't get a good black, when a fellow customer described someone's new gum process: "you mix paint with gum arabic, add potassium dichromate, coat it on paper, expose under a negative & wash in water." Demachy allegedly made a few tests, then got his gum prints in the next salon.

(The story was reprinted in a couple of early anthologies. I've got it somewhere, but maybe someone knows the reference right off?)