Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Photo or Object? --- Days 13/67 & 68

 Walks: Hood, de Young Museum

Distances: 3 miles, 3.5 miles

Maybe because she just snaps with her iPhone and is done, Ciwt's eyes glaze over a bit when taking tours of photography.  Whoever the guide is often talks at length about the exact camera used, the steps of developing the photo, the paper and whatall.  Then Ciwt stands waiting as the many amateur photographers in the crowd ask with great interest about matters techical. Probably because of Instagram and phone cameras that number is growing significantly and photography shows are drawing more and more museum crowds.

But today at the Press Preview of the Irving Penn show opening soon at the de Young the quality of the photos she saw had her riveted. And she was actually fascinated by the techinical information the visiting curator from the Metropolitian Museum passed on.   Penn meticulously created his own settings, made his own paper, hand printed his photgraphs again and again with silver and other rich emulsions.  No lab assistants for any of this.  The resulting surface of his final products are often so thick and rich, they register much like paintings.  They are more lasting object rather than photograph.  And oh the depth and clarity; every photo in the show, no matter when taken, appears new, fresh immediate.

Here's Penn's beautiful wife, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, arguably the first super model, looking as breathtakingly alive as she did when Penn took this portrait in 1950.  This not just because of her stunning presence but also due to Penn's well considered lighting, rough curtain behind, positioning of the subject and rich printing. 

Irving Penn, Woman with Roses, (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in LaFeurie Dress), Paris, 1950, Platinum-palladium print

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