Pictorial Portrait by Robert Demachy

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Robert Demachy via

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Marvelous Portraits by Edward Weston

Edward Henry Weston (1886 – 1958) was a 20th-century American photographer. He has been called:

“one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…” and “one of the masters of 20th century photography.”

Over the course of his 40-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, nudes, portraits, genre scenes and even whimsical parodies. It is said that he developed a:

“quintessentially American, and specially Californian, approach to modern photography”

because of his focus on the people and places of the American West. In 1937 Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, and over the next two years he produced nearly 1,400 negatives using his 8 × 10 view camera. Some of his most famous photographs were taken of the trees and rocks at Point Lobos, California, near where he lived for many years.

Weston was born in Chicago and moved to California when he was 21. He knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age, and initially his work was typical of the soft focus pictorialism that was popular at the time. Within a few years, however, he abandoned that style and went on to be one of the foremost champions of highly detailed photographic images.

In 1947 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he stopped photographing soon thereafter. He spent the remaining ten years of his life overseeing the printing of more than 1,000 of his most famous images.

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Edward Weston, Portrait of Ruth St. Denis, 1916 via

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Edward Weston, Unidentified Woman, 1920 via

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Tina Modotti, Glendale. Photograph by Edward Weston, 1921 via

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Edward Weston. Frida Kahlo, 1930 via

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Xenia Kashevaroff photographed by Edward Weston in 1931. This portrait is now in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art via

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Edward Weston, Charis Wilson, 1941 The Lane Collection
Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston via

Pictorialism from the Turn-of the-Century Photo-Secession Movement

The Photo-Secession was an early-20th-century movement that promoted photography as a fine art.

A group of photographers, led by Alfred Stieglitz and F. Holland Day in the early 1900s, held the then controversial viewpoint that what was significant about a photograph was not what was in front of the camera but the manipulation of the image by the artist/photographer to achieve his or her subjective vision.

The movement helped to raise standards and awareness of art photography. Proponents of Pictorialism, which was the underlying value of the Photo-Secession, argued that photography needed to emulate the painting and etching of the time. Pictorialists believed that, just as a painting is distinctive because of the artist’s manipulation of the materials to achieve an effect, so too should the photographer alter or manipulate the photographic image. Among the methods used were soft focus; special filters and lens coatings; burning, dodging and/or cropping in the darkroom to edit the content of the image; and alternative printing processes such as sepia toning, carbon printing, platinum printing or gum bichromate processing.

The “membership” of the Photo-Secession varied according to Stieglitz’s interests and temperament but was centered around the core group of Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Clarence H. White, Gertrude Käsebier, Frank Eugene, F. Holland Day, and later Alvin Langdon Coburn.

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 Mending Nets by Alfred Stieglitz. Carbon print (1894) via

 

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 “A Study” by Gertrude Käsebier. Platinum print (ca. 1898) via

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By Clarence H. White (1871) via

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Actress Minnie Maddern Fiske by Fred Holland Day (created 1895-1912) via

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The Brass Bowl by Edward Steichen. Photogravure on tissue-thin Japan paper. Literature: Camera Work 14 (1906) via

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Minuet by Frank Eugene, Photogravure on tissue-thin Japan paper. Literature: Camera Work 30 (1910) via

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 The Bubble by Alvin Langdon Coburn. Gum bichromate over platinum print (1908) via 

Three Photos by Robert Demachy (1859–1936)

Robert Demachy (1859–1936) was the leading French Pictorial photographer of the late 19th and early 20th century. Pictorialism began in response to claims that a photograph was nothing more than a simple record of reality, and transformed into an international movement to advance the status of all photography as a true art form.

Demachy is best known for his intensely manipulated prints that display a distinct painterly quality. Demachy was particularly interested in nonstandard photographic processes and is noted especially for his revival of the gum bichromate process (invented in 1855 but little used until the 1890s), which allowed the introduction of color and brushwork into the photographic image (source).

He gave up taking photographs in early 1914, and never again touched a camera, even refusing to take snapshots of his grandchildren. No one was ever able to extract any reason from him for this sudden change, and it remains a mystery to this day.

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Dans les coulisses by Robert Demachy (ca. 1897)

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Behind the Scenes of the Opera by Robert Demachy

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Behind the Scenes by Robert Demachy (1906)

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Photos by Visionary Photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882 – 1966)

Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882 – 1966) was an early 20th-century photographer who became a key figure in the development of American pictorialism – the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries.

Typically, a pictorial photograph appears to lack a sharp focus (some more so than others), is printed in one or more colors other than black-and-white (ranging from warm brown to deep blue) and may have visible brush strokes or other manipulation of the surface. For the pictorialist, a photograph, like a painting, drawing or engraving, was a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination

Coburn became the first major photographer to emphasize the visual potential of elevated viewpoints and later made some of the first completely abstract photographs.

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Study – Miss R by Alvin Langdon Coburn (1904)

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Landscape by Alvin Langdon Coburn (1902)

(Alvin Langdon Coburn/George Eastman House,

International Museum of Photography and Film)

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Vortograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn (1917)

(Alvin Langdon Coburn/George Eastman House,

International Museum of Photography and Film)

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theguardian.com