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The Kamakura Print Collection, Photogravure Etchings by Peter Miller

Essays on the history and technique photogravure etching; guidance on purchasing, investing in, framing, and conserving artwork; links and resources

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Photogravure Etching in the Intaglio Tradition

For 500-plus years, copperplates have been engraved, incised, scratched, serrated, and etched, conveying a wide range of expression with a surprising simplicity of means. The prints of Durer, Leyden, Callot, Rembrandt, Claude, Piranesi, Goya, Whistler (to mention only a few), though vastly different in style, share a common ink-on-paper vision. Photogravure etching joined the earlier intaglio forms in the 19th century, embodying their depth, tonal variety, and tactile presence.

The graphic arts had already embraced lifelike spontaneity as Vermeer, Canaletto, and many others used lenses to obtain an air of luminance that had never before appeared in artwork. From the invention of the telescope in the early 17th century to the camera obscura and the camera lucida, which focused real-time scenes on flat surfaces, optical devices profoundly influenced both artistic and popular perception. All that was missing was a way of making those fleeting images permanent.

In the autumn of 1833, William Talbot, visiting Lake Como, imagined that light itself might sketch its own image. Although light-sensitive materials were known at least as early as 1727, No one before Talbot thought to apply them to the graphic arts. Nicéphore Niépce had actually made the first photogravure in 1829. Talbot devised the method of etching a copperplate through a lens-exposed, light-sensitive resist to produce a permanent print. In the latter half of the 19th century, Peter Henry Emerson, Edouard Baldus, Robert Démachy and others took the medium beyond reportage and into poetic or painterly evocations.

The 20th century saw the use of photogravure in Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work and in the series by Edward Curtis on North American Indians, followed by a half-century of neglect. In the 1970s, artists and collectors interested in artisanal images re-discovered photogravure. Real photogravure etchings will always be rare because the time and skill required for them takes many years; but it is their uniquely tactile quality, variety of texture and tone, and resonance with 500 years of intaglio that gives them an enduring presence.

Inklings essay:   Etched in Memory.  Origins of photogravure etching in Renaissance developments in optics, chance discoveries of light-sensitive materials, and the refinement of etching and printmaking technique; and how this invention transformed our experience of the visual world.

Framing and conservation tips; original prints and limited editions; non-frame solutions

Investing in Art.   The market value of artwork is based on its authenticity, originality, condition, provenance, and historical importance.. Throughout the 500-year history of printmaking, artist-made prints have the highest value, while 'restrikes' and reproductions have lesser value.

How to Look at Prints. Stanley William Hayter, the prolfiically inventive engraver who founded Atelier 17 in Paris in the 1930s, advises emptying one's mind of all preconceptions when looking at prints. Former Met Director Thomas Hoving also gives primary importance to first impressions, supplemented later by analysis. Henri Focillon's The Life of Forms: 'The life of forms in the mind propagates a prodigious animism that, taking natural objects as the point of departure, makes them matters of imagination and memory, of sensibility and intellect,... and these processes [by which forms are propagated] are touches, accents, tones and values.' The suggestions of Hayter, Hoving, and Focillon are here.

Links to my favorite websites: Websites with practical or inspirational content in the graphic arts, gardens, travel, software, and printmaking supplies. Instead of an encyclopaedic list of links that merely produce information-overload, I select a few that stand out from the crowd. There are no sites consisting only of other links, no link exchanges, and none where the advertising overwhelms the content.

'Talbot is the man who set certain basic terms by which photography operated for almost the last 150 years. He invented the photographic negative, the process by which light creates a negative image...'

How photogravure etchings are made, with illustrations of printmaking method -- detailed how-to guide; 日本語. People seeking to learn photogravure and other printmaking techniques can find classes at Crown Point Press in San Francisco, Lothar Osterburg in New York, and other workshops in the United States and Europe.

Suppliers of etching papers, non-toxic materials, conservation materials, ultra-violet exposure equipment

Health and safety in the print workshop, or how to make prints for a long time.

Books on Photogravure

H Mills Cartwright, Photogravure (American Photographic Publishing, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 1939); detailed technical guide.

Brian Coe and Mark Haworth-Booth, A Guide to Early Photographic Processes (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 1983); how to tell the difference between a salt print and a calotype, and much else.

William Crawford, The Keepers of Light (Morgan & Morgan, Dobbs Ferry, New York, USA, 1979); stories of the numerous varieties of early photography, with brief technical explanations.

Herbert Denison, A Treatise on Photogravure (facsimile of 1895 edition, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York, USA, 1974); superb how-to manual written in impeccably Victorian English.

Jon Goodman, Pietro Sarto, Malcolm Daniel, and Florian Rodari, Graver La Lumière (Fondation William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2003); catalog of exhibition held at the Musée Jenisch in Vevey, Switzerland, with very fine essays (in French) on the unique look of photogravure etching, with excellent full-page illustrations.

Gary Kolb, Photogravure, A Process Handbook (Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Illinois, USA, 1986); detailed handbook combining technical know-how with aesthetic sensitivity.

E S Lumsden, The Art of Etching (J B Lippincott, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 1929); how to set up an etching atelier and prepare ink, paper, plate, and press for printing etchings.

Luis Nadeau, Modern Carbon Printing (Atelier Luis Nadeau, New Brpunswick, Canada, 1986); explanation of a closely related technique.

Nancy Newhall, P H Emerson (Aperture, Millerton, New York, USA, 1975); the story of Peter Henry Emerson's championing of naturalistic photography, as opposed to the staged (he would say contrived and maudlin) works of his rivals.

Joseph Pennell, Etchers and Etching (MacMillan, New York, New York, USA, 1929); wonderfully opinionated account of good and bad etching practices and wrongheaded critics throughout printmaking history, with numerous illustrations.

Deli Sacilotto, Photographic Printmaking Techniques (Watson-Guptil, New York, New York, USA, 1982); survey and review of various techniques, including photogravure, photo-lithography, and others.

Larry Schaaf, Out of the Shadows: Herschel, Talbot & the Invention of Photography (Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, 1992); thoroughly researched account of the many technical and legal hurdles Talbot surmounted in perfecting and keeping his photographic inventions.

Brian Shure, Chine Collé: A Printer's Handbook (Crown Point Press, San Francisco, 2000); detailed illustrated description of this technique of adhering an extremely thin sheet to another thicker sheet of etching paper while printing, which yields exquisite results. Prints made with chine collé at this site include Sandwaves, Pont Vieux, Siena, and others.

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Site:  HomeホームViewing・見聞Learning・情報 Purchasing・ご注文News ・ ニユース;  Videos・ビデオ Xpress

Series: Temples・寺Dreamscapes・夢Seascapes・海Furusato・ふるさとPathways・道Mongolia・モンゴルActs & Scenes・町Unseen・見残す; New Prints・新

Original photogravure etchings may be purchased through this website by clicking the order button on any full-screen image page, or from these fine print dealers:


Baltimore: Conrad R Graeber Fine Art, Box 264, Riderwood, Md, U.S.A., tel +1-410-377-6713
Cleveland: Verne Gallery, 2207 Murray Hill Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, U.S.A., tel +1-216-231-8866
San Francisco: Japonesque, 824 Montgomery Street, SF, Ca, U.S.A., tel +1-415 391-8860
Paris: Le Voleur d'images, 9 rue de Saint-Simon Paris 7e, France, tel +
Netherlands: Eric van den Ing, Saru Gallery, tel: +31(0)6-2246-4074.
Moscow: Lumiere Brothers Center, 119072, Москва, Болотная набережная д.3 стр.1 (Red October, Bolotnaya emb 3 b. 1, Moscow, Russia, 119072), tel +7-968-451-4019
Vladivostok: Arka Gallery, 5 Svetlanskaya St, Vladivostok, Russia, tel +7-4232-410-526
Yokohama, Japan: 吉田町画廊、〒231-0041 横浜市中区吉田町5-14, ;JR関内駅北口より徒歩7分; Tel 045-252-7240; Yoshidamachi Gallery, Yokohama Naka-ku Yoshidamachi 5-14

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