Photography's antiquarian avant-garde: the new wave in old processes

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Harry N. Abrams, May 1, 2002 - Photography - 159 pages
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It started in the 1970s with a group of artists seeking to reengage the physical facts of photography, its materials and processes, by turning to the history of photography for metaphors, technical information, and visual inspiration. By the 1980s it had become a movement with a fervent following. And now, for the first time in book form, 'Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde' charts this full-blown rebellion of contemporary photographers against the advent of digital technology and their reversion to photographic methods used in the nineteenth century. By beginning with a narrative history of photography that allows the reader to understand the forebears of this movement, author Lyle Rexer provides a context for engaging with the contemporary work. For all of the artists illustrated, stepping into the past is a way to reimagine and redirect not only the photographic object, but the very act of photography itself. In each subsequent chapter, he introduces the reader to a different technique and, along with providing vivid insights into the creative processes of the artists, makes visible the astonishing diversity of their work. The photographers in this volume are from all over the world and use a wide array of processes. Among the artists and methods featured are Adam Fuss's Cibachrome photograms, Jayne Hinds Bidaut's tintypes, Jerry Spagnoli's daguerreotypes, Gabor Kerekes's carbon dichromates, and Laurent Millet's toned silver prints. An interview with Sally Mann about her collodion prints and a statement written by Chuck Close about his work with daguerreotypes give the reader a clear sense of what has driven them to pursue these long-obsolete processes. The book is completed by a glossary of technical terms to enhance the reader's understanding of the technical aspects of each process.

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Photography's antiquarian avant-garde: the new wave in old processes

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Some fear that the photographic community's widespread and controversial adoption of digital processes will lead to technical standardization and numbing artistic uniformity. Fortunately, whatever the ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Lyle Rexer is the author of "Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde" and "How to Look at Outsider Art." He has contributed essays to several photographic monographs, including "Room to Play" by Simen Johan, and frequently writes for " The New York Times", "Art in America, Art on Paper" and "Graphis", among other publications.

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