Birds or Der Traum vom Fliegen

Birds have been revered in many cultures throughout history
 

Birds or “Der Traum vom Fliegen”

 
Humans across the ages have dreamed of flight, inspired by the movements of birds and the passage of clouds. The history of aviation goes back more than two thousand years – to early kite flying in China that can be traced to several hundred years BC. The tradition of flying a kite spread around the globe and is considered to be the earliest form of human flight. Kites represent a meeting place of man and elements, similar to the way in which sailboats harness the power of the wind to propel their motion.

 
In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci’s fascination with flight accompanied him from his youth throughout his entire life. He was devoted to finding ways to allow man to fly, making numerous studies and observations of birds, analysing their flight technique and the structure of their wings. 
 
He created countless sketches, drawings and models in the attempt to create a flying machine that could be propelled by a human, but he came to understand that a solitary person wouldn’t be capable of producing enough energy to move the wings, so another form of mechanical flight would be necessary. 

 

The first hot air balloon flights took place in the 18th century, a time of rapid developments and discoveries that contributed to our understanding of aerodynamics. Balloons were also deployed for military purposes from the end of the 18th century. From the earliest days of aviation, flight has been associated with both adventure and war.
 
The dream of flight led to modern aeronautics, with the Wright brothers’ first successful aeroplane flight in 1903. 

 

This swiftly led to record-breaking moments in history and technological innovations that played a huge role in the conflicts and connections that have shaped our contemporary world. 

 
Birds have been revered in many cultures throughout history
 
Around the world, birds have been revered and considered symbols of life, death and fate. They have appeared in folklore and popular culture, from prehistoric cave paintings to national flags. They’ve been the focus of superstition, myth and worship in many indigenous cultures and were regarded as expressions of God in early African and Egyptian cultures. 
 
As a theme they have inspired many artists, manifesting as motifs and signs. 
Birds have represented freedom, pride, the afterlife. They have been portrayed as mystical and mundane. They’ve made countless appearances in stories and films.
 

 

 

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Die Zauberflöte Film 'The Maltese Falcon' „Surfin Bird“ by The Trashmen Bird Watching in Georgien Walther von der Vogelweide „Aphorismen“ Nationalapark Wattenmeer

W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978), "Iwo Jima, Airfield Is Life-Saver for B-29´s", March 31, 1945
W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978),
“Iwo Jima, Airfield Is Life-Saver for B-29´s”, March 31, 1945, ©W. Eugene Smith, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Caligari, Golem & Co. – Glass Negatives

Today they are disappearing, for they have no place in digital photography
 

Caligari, Golem & Co. – Glass Negatives

Negative:
The photographic record exposed in the camera, so called because it renders light values as dark and vice versa. Negatives have ranged widely in the materials of their support, from paper to glass to flexible film. Today they are disappearing, for they have no place in digital photography.
Richard Benson, The Printed Picture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008, p. 324

 
The first fully practical process for negatives on glass was introduced by F. Scott Archer in 1851. A sheet of glass was handcoated with a thin film of collodion (guncotton dissolved in ether) containing  potassium iodide, and was sensitised on the spot with silver nitrate. The plate had to be exposed while still wet, and developed immediately. 
Brian Coe, Mark Haworth-Booth, A Guide to Early Photographic Processes, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983, p. 18

 

The use of a film of sensitised albumen on glass was first proposed by Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor; the albumen plate gave very high resolution of detail but was very slow, requiring long exposures. In the 1850s it was employed in combination with collodion or gelatin in the preparation  of dry plates. Albumen negatives are not commonly met with, and in any case, are almost impossible to distinguish from collodion negatives, at least not without complex chemical tests.
Brian Coe, Mark Haworth-Booth, A Guide to Early Photographic Processes, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983, p. 17

 

Sumurun

Baghdad, 9th century: Sumurun, the sheikh’s favorite wife, is fed up with life in the harem. When her love for a cloth dealer is exposed, the sheikh finds a replacement in the beautiful dancer of a traveling juggling troupe. But he is not her only admirer. His son and a hunchbacked juggler both have their eyes on the dancer as well, all competing for her attention. Intrigue and murder ensue.
Sumurun is based on one an ‘oriental fairy tale’ by Friedrich Freksa, who produced it as a pantomime filmed by Max Reinhardt in 1910. The director and star of Sumurun, Ernst Lubitsch, had begun his acting career with Reinhardt, and so Lubitsch’s 1920 remake of the pantomime original serves simultaneously as an homage to the artistry and imagination of his old teacher. 

Source: Murnau Stiftung
 

Lubitsch

Ernst Lubitsch was born in Berlin in 1892. After attending high school he began an apprenticeship in a fabric store and worked as an accountant for his father, a tailor. In 1910 he began acting lessons at Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater. After a number of smaller roles, he made his true film debut in 1913, in The Ideal Wife. From 1917 he worked with a small staff as a director at the recently-founded Universum Film AG (Ufa). In 1923, after a run of successful period films like Madame Du Barry he moved to the United States, where he worked as a director for various Hollywood studios. A host of sophisticated social comedies resulted, including The Marriage Circle and So This Is Paris, with subjects drawn mainly from European literature. Keeping an eye on the strict censorship regime of the time, Lubitsch developed an ironic technique full of allusions and hidden meanings, indirect commentary and elegant whispers. All this became known, and has gone down in film history, as the “Lubitsch touch,” an approach to filmmaking which deeply influenced the development of American film comedy from that point on. His first sound film, The Love Parade, represented an even further leap forward in genre and technical capability than in its use of sound alone; it is one of the first true film musicals, not merely a filmed version of the earlier stage operetta it was based on but a true adaptation for the cinematic medium, using the possibilities of film (montage, moving camera, and so on) to unprecedented effect, and achieving a true union of image and sound on screen. Ernst Lubitsch died in 1947, in Hollywood.

Source: Deutsches Historisches Museum

 
 

 

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Silent Film Archive The Silent Film Channel Film: Sumurun (1920) The Rediscovery of the 'Sumurun' Movie Soundtrack (composed by Victor Hollaender) Film: The Cabinet of Cr. Caligari (1920) Film: The Loves of Pharaoh Film: The Golem (Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam) Murnau Foundation

Unidentified Photographer, "n.t. (Film-Still from "Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam"), 1920
Unidentified Photographer, “n.t. (Film-Still from “Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam”), 1920, glass negative, 9,0 x 12,0 cm, 
© Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Wasserspiele

It sparkles and shines; it absorbs light, and it casts light back with a unique, effusive clarity. Water is omnipresent.
 

Wasserspiele

It sparkles and shines; it absorbs light, and it casts light back with a unique, effusive clarity. Water is omnipresent. On a planetary scale it overwhelms us – it fills our oceans, weighs down the air around, wears the earth beneath our feet down and away into plunging gorges and vast canyons, and coats that earth again in crystal ivory when the air and earth turn frozen. On the microscopic scale it finds its way everywhere, dissolving and diluting, breaking nutrients down and conducting them onwards to feed the cells of plants and animals.

 
This elemental blend of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen serves as home for countless species of organisms, ranging from the largest to the smallest forms of life on the planet. Because water can hold and carry things both living and lifeless, its purity varies dramatically, along with its best possible uses from one source to another.

 

Evaporation of water acts a magic cleanser, leaving solid impurities behind as the pure moisture is drawn into the skies, re-gathered in clouds and re-distributed across earth and ocean with the help of global air currents and crashing storms. Water’s immense power is central to local, national, and international political scuffles and decision-making processes. It has molded and will only continue to mold geography both physical and political, and, with it, the history of human life. Social systems and customs are intimately bound up with the availability of water, and there is no economy on earth that does not leverage its value or suffer from its scarcity. The physical record of water’s changing impact over the centuries and millennia often are found concealed underwater, in soil, jungles, and caves, luring anthropologists, just as journalists and storytellers are drawn to the fascinations of fire, flood, and hurricane, and the opportunity to weave new tales from the devastation and prosperity water can bring. Its influence in language, music, art, theater, and ritual ceremony and custom is nearly endless – think of Sumidagawa in classical Noh theater, of the rain dances of indigenous cultures worldwide, of Moby Dick or Rusalka (or The Little Mermaid!).

 

Water is the fundamental shapeshifter. It reflects color, catches light, flows, and freezes. Even as it turns predator to the unwary, it becomes artistic prey for photographers, filmmakers, and painters, seeking to capture the fleeting, spellbinding truths it contains, casts back, and carries away.

 

Text adapted from: https://magazine.libarts.colostate.edu/article/water-as-science-and-art/

 
 

 

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Franz Schubert - Gesang der Geister über den Wassern Article 'Aqua Depicta' Fallingwater M.A. Thesis 'The Ocean in Moby Dick' Water Encyclopedia NASA Blue Marble Collection Ocean Waves Sounds Handel - Watermusic Trick Fountains Hellabrunn Turner's Sketchbooks, Drawings, Watercolors

Al Seib,
Al Seib, “City-style Water Sport”, July 1984, silver gelatin print on matte PE paper, with crop marks in red crayon, printed by July 14, 1984, 34,4 (35,5) x 23,7 (25,8) cm, © Al Seib, Daniel Blau, Munich
The Art of Airbrush

Digital technology has made the process of altering photographs faster and easier, more difficult to detect, and more accessible to more people – many more people – than at any point in history.
 

The Art of Airbrush

I do not understand why this is supposed to interfere with the truth. … Photography is still a very new medium and everything is allowed and everything should be tried.”
(Bill Brandt, “A Statement,” (1970), in: Bill Brandt: Selected Texts and Bibliography,
ed. Nigel Warburton (Oxford: Clio Press, 1993), p. 31.)

 

Digital technology has made the process of altering photographs faster and easier, more difficult to detect, and more accessible to more people – many more people – than at any point in history. Its beginnings, though, stretch back far further than the late twentieth century and the advent of digital photography. Though the technology may be new, the desire to modify camera-captured images is as old as photography itself, and the determination of artists and inventors through the generations has brought new techniques and innovations at every step. Nearly every kind of photographic manipulation we now associate with Photoshop was once part of photography’s analog repertoire, from slimming waistlines and smoothing away wrinkles to replacing backgrounds and adding people to group shots (or, in other cases – removing them!). From the earliest days of photography onward, photographers have devised a staggering array of techniques, including multiple exposure, photomontage, combination printing, airbrush retouching, and more.
(Adapted from: Mia Fineman, Faking it. Manipulated Photography before Photoshop (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 2012), p. 5-6.)

 

Winston Smith, protagonist of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and civil servant in Oceania, the totalitarian superstate ruled by ‘the Party’ works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, where he spends his days ‘rectifying’ historical documents to accord with the Party’s latest version of reality – falsifying the past to square it with the ideological needs of the present. One day, while rewriting a newspaper report concerning a speech by Big Brother, he invents a fictious war hero, Comrade Ogilvy, whose death the rectified speech will commemorate. “It was true that there was no such person as Comrade Ogilvy,” Winston reflects, “but a few lines of print and a couple of faked photographs would soon bring him into existence. […] Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne and Julius Caesar.“
(George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), quoted in Mia Fineman, Faking it. Manipulated Photography before Photoshop (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 2012), p. 89.)

 

When Orwell was writing, in the late 1940s, the Stalinist project of historical revisionism was in full swing in the Soviet Union, and the faking of photographs was a key tactic in the regime’s systematic falsification of the past. A manipulated photograph could endow political fiction with an air of factual authenticity. The falsification of photographs was widespread in the Soviet Union, but it was hardly unique to that country or that political system. The temptation to ‘rectify’ photographic documents has proved irresistible to modern demagogues of all stripes, from Adolf Hitler to Mao Zedong to Joseph McCarthy.

 

In a relatively benign example discovered among the files of Hitler’s official photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels is excised from a publicity photograph taken at the Berlin home of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in 1937, possibly in order to combat rumors that Goebbels and Riefenstahl were having an affair.
(Adapted from: Mia Fineman, Faking it. Manipulated Photography before Photoshop (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 2012), p. 89-90.)

 

Airbrush:
Tool that combines a liquid medium with air and forces it through a tiny orifice to produce a fine mist for smooth application of the medium to a substrate. First patented by the American Francis E. Stanley in 1876 and used for coloring and coating photographs as well as for retouching, the airbrush was a precursor to aerosol spray paint.

(Adapted from: Mia Fineman, Faking it. Manipulated Photography before Photoshop (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 2012), p. 270.)

 
 

 

All photographs are available for purchase. Prices upon request. For further information please send an email to: contact@danielblau.com
All offers are noncommital. We cannot guarantee the items are still available on request.
 

 

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PhD Thesis on Airbrushing Airbrushinfo.net Blau Bulletin #1 (Retouching in Photography) Airbrushed From History (Article The Independent) How Politicians Are Retouching Their Photos Artists Working With Airbrush Barrie Cook (The Guardian) Digital Retouching of Skin with Airbrush

Unidentified Photographer,
Unidentified Photographer, “Fishermen’s Paradise (Vacation Time)”, April 3, 1959, silver gelatin print with retouchings, airbrush and crop marks in red crayon on glossy fibre paper, 20,8 (22,6) x 16,6 (17,9) cm, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Green

We associate green with Spring, with new birth and rebirth and plants as they sprout and grow.
 

Green

We associate green with Spring, with new birth and rebirth and plants as they sprout and grow. As the color of yearly renewal and of the triumph of spring over cold winter, green symbolizes hope and immortality. The very root of the word in German – ‘grün’ – lies in the old Germanic ‘ghro,’ whose meaning is fundamentally to grow and to thrive.

 

Nor, for that matter, is the relationship between the English words ‘grow’ and ‘green’ a coincidence. With the help of sunlight and carbon dioxide, which man and animal alike expel in breathing, the plants of the world are able to produce starch and the oxygen so necessary for our own life.
The magic ingredient in photosynthesis is the green pigment chlorophyll, which possesses the ability to transform inorganic substances into organic ones.

 

In ancient Egypt, the color green carried, along with blue, primarily positive connotations. The ancient Egyptian goddess of the sky (and of cows), Hathor, was portrayed on occasion in the form of a green tree. She was taken to be mistress of both love and life. Green malachite was of particular importance. The stone would be ground down and mixed with egg white, acacia resin, or fig sap to create emerald paints, used for instance by Egyptian women as eyeshadow. Along with its use as a pigment, it was, and remains today, a highly prized gemstone. The Egyptians mined the mineral on Mount Sinai, extracting copper from the ore. In the Arab world, pulverized malachite was taken as an antidote to poisons and to counter ulcers. The same was true of the gemstone emerald.

 
Green, in the Middle Ages, was the color of love, but not of love alone: evil serpents and demons were increasingly portrayed clad in or surrounded by green as well. In ancient China, dragons still possessed very positive meanings. They symbolized the divine power of transformation, the rhythm of nature, as well as supernatural wisdom and strength. In each instance, the positive symbolism of the dragon and the color green went hand-in-hand.

 

Christianity took the positive symbol of the dragon and turned it on its head, creating a monster from it, one that combined everything evil and destructive in it. The skin of Christian demons was colored green, like their eyes, and far from being bridges to divine wisdom they led their victims directly to hell.

 

Fertility’s association with the color green became a mark of shame as the guardians of Christian morality sought to avoid every hint of excessive sexuality. The Devil – in his style as hunter of souls – appeared in green clothing. Although many artists of the Middle Ages had painted Christ upon a green cross, and many saints in their paintings wore green themselves, as a symbol of hope, the idea that green and gold together indicate poison existed then and has endured to the present day. This association was so strong that it led to the term ‘venom-‘ or ‘poison-green.’

 

A truly poisonous ‘venom-green’ green actually does exist, though only since 1805, when chemists in the German city of Schweinfurt sought to create a paint more deep-green than what existed at the time. Its recipe calls for verdigris and arsenic acid. After application to, for instance, the walls of a room, moisture can still interact with the paint, resulting in a chemical reaction that produces toxic fumes of arsenic compounds. In German it is still called ‘Schweinfurt green’; ‘Paris green’ is the more common name in English, due to its later application as rat poison in Parisian sewers. Napoleon had a particular affection for the color green. The walls of his exilic room on St. Helena were painted in Paris green. When Italian chemists of our own century, a team from the University of Milano-Biocca, conducted a chemical analysis of Napoleon’s hair, they found elevated concentrations of arsenic in it. Theories erupted following the results’ publication, claiming that Napoleon died from arsenic poisoning. Following a more recent and more precise examination by the Milanese professor Ettore Fiorini, arsenic was determined not to have been the cause of Napoleon’s death. Evidently, the emperor had died of a stomach tumor.

 
 

Sources/Further Reading:

Adapted from: Thomas Seilnacht, “Naturwissenschaften unterrichten. Didaktik der Naturwissenschaft”, online: Sailnacht, “Phänomen Farbe. Grün”: Lexikon Grün
Robertson, D. W. “Why the Devil Wears Green.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 69, no. 7, 1954, pp. 470–472. JSTOR, JSTOR
Hutchings, John. “Folklore and Symbolism of Green.” Folklore, vol. 108, 1997, pp. 55–63. JSTOR,
Dorothee Fauth, “Kunstlexikon. Porträt,” June 2, 2005, for Hatje Cantz online:
JSTOR

 
 

 
All photographs are available for purchase. Prices upon request. For further information please send an email to: contact@danielblau.com
All offers are noncommital. We cannot guarantee the items are still available on request.
 
 

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Study 'Colors, Emotions, and the Auction Value of Paintings' R.E.M. Green Album (1988) Playlist Sing along 'Grün, grün, grün sind alle meine Kleider' Sing along '10 Green Bottles' Noteworthy Greens Guiseppe Verdi at the Met Verdi's 'Rigoletto' (full movie) 1982 starring Luciano Pavarotti Asteroid 'Green' Attenborough's Paradise Birds - BBC

John Lurie,
John Lurie, “Donald Liked to Read to the Dead”, 2004, watercolor, oil pastel and pencil on paper,
31 x 23 cm, © John Lurie, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Me, Myself and I

The portrayal of the human figure is one of the oldest themes and subjects in the entire history of artistic expression.
 

Me, Myself and I

The portrayal of the human figure is one of the oldest themes and subjects in the entire history of artistic expression. As it became a more distinct genre, the portrait as such took over many of the roles and functions of those early human images, such as a certain immortalization of the subject after death, representative duties and deputized purposes in lieu of the subject himself. Portraiture experienced its heyday from the late Middle Ages through to the 17th century. This was in stark contrast to the era of early Christianity, which, on account of the young religion’s adamant rejection of potentially idolatrous representative art, knew very little in the way of individual likenesses and portraits.

 

The history of the portrait begins at the moment when the ambition of artist turns towards making resemblance the main subject of their artwork. Resemblance had been understood since the late 15th century to be not only a matter of external appearance, but also one of inner essence and being. While portraits of the late Middle Ages were overwhelmingly formulaic, a new development in painting began to take hold after 1300, according to which the identifiable features and physical characteristics of one particular human subject were mixed with images and allusions from the overall canon of sacred, mythological, and historical subjects and themes. The lords and patrons were the first faces recognizable in the painting, but their presence still had to be legitimized by the portrayal of an accompanying saint.

 

It was only much later, with the beginning of the Renaissance and the era’s new understanding of Man as an autonomous individual, that the portrait came to conquer the private sphere and an emerging middle class. Toward the end of the Quattrocento the psychological ‘moment’ came into view, which naturally cannot be understood in the modern sense. The essence of a person, his mental state and emotional psychology, wasn’t achieved through any sort of analytical carving away, but was betrayed instead through subtle means. The fact that a portrait always, by definition, transcends the status of an exact one-to-one snapshot, but is rather always an aesthetic construct, is due to the desire of those portrayed to tell the world something about themselves. Merits, virtues, values, education, status and position in society are thereby hidden, in and by means of symbols and symbolisms – in attributes, interiors, landscapes, clothing, and posture.

 

It was at this same historical moment that self-portraiture began its ascendance to the prominent position it occupies today in the portrait-painting tradition. It served, on the one hand, a personal purpose for the artist himself, a place for private experimenting, and on the other hand can be understood in a broader social sense as one expression of burgeoning self-confidence in the individual. After all, as the role of painter as artist came to be held in greater and greater esteem over the course of the Renaissance, so rose as well the worth of his own image – an image at first half-hidden in larger compositions, gradually growing to be a stand-alone portrait in its own right.

 

In the 16th and 17th centuries, portraiture reached its zenith. The portrait has now finally arrived in the both the civic and private realm. Much was to change from the 19th century onwards: with the advent of photography, a quick and convenient technology came onto the market, one which created an image where reality and recreation were nearly identical.

 

The painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in turn, shook the mainstream artistic world by finally and forcefully separating color and shape from one another. Painting triumphed over visually perceived reality. With advances in photography, new demands were placed on portrait painting, ones which inevitably drew further and further away from the artistic and practical demands being met by technology-based forms of visual reproduction.

 

Mummy Portraits
The earliest movable portraits have their origins at about the time of Christ’s birth, from the Faiyum, a lowland oasis region lying some three hundred kilometers south of Alexandria. Egypt had only recently been annexed by the Romans, a change in jurisdictional fortune that relegated it to the outskirts of an empire based across the Mediterranean Sea. Roman mercenaries, given leave to become farmers, were settled in the distant province, becoming in the process the foundation of a new, hybrid culture in the Faiyum.
 
The ancient belief that the deities humans worshiped were bound to one particular place belonged just as much to the Egyptians as it did to the Romans. The mercenaries settled in the Faiyum, therefore, had Egyptian gods to worship. The gods of the Egyptian countryside were, for them, simply different manifestations of the true gods; the Egyptian Amon and the Hellenic Zeus were one and the same person, just as Osiris, Bacchus and Dionysus were. Through the cult of Osiris, however, the Egyptian belief in an afterlife, and its associated burial practices, found its way into the Roman colonies. One such practice was the ancient Egyptian custom of giving human form to the coffins of mummies, or attaching a mask, in the form of an idealized human face, to the coffin’s head, a custom which the Romans of Egypt adopted and modified.
 
A longstanding practice common among the upper classes of the Roman Empire’s more central provinces was the creation of individualized sculptural portrait busts, for exhibition in a household’s atrium or central courtyard. Just how much of a role that tradition played in the evolution of Faiyum portraiture can be debated; certain similarities, though, seem too striking to ignore. The mummy portraits of Roman Faiyum were painted in encaustic or tempera, on canvas or wood, unlike the earlier Egyptian practice of painting directly onto the sarcophagus, or even the bandages of the mummy itself; moreover, these were individualized portrayals of the deceased, not the standardized representation of a canonical set of human forms as indigenous mummy painting had been. This made them eligible as objects of display, an echo of the portrait busts of ‘home.’ A mummy portrait would be made during its subject’s lifetime, ‘living’ with him in his house until, after the subject’s death, it was wrapped in the mummy’s outermost bandages, at the head, something like a face, peering out from between the strips of linen.

There have been numerous mummy portraits found of children, appearing in their likeness very much alive; considering how unlikely it is that these would have been made during the lifetimes of their young subjects, we can assume that it was acceptable to create these portraits even when the sitter could no longer hold his own pose, at the very least in the case of an early or unexpected death. While that may seem a tad macabre, the practice is nearer to us than we might imagine; the modern age has passed down daguerreotypes and even photographs to us of children and babies who have already died, propped up before the lens to appear as among the living one last time.
 
source: G. Möller. “Das Mumienporträt,” Wasmuths Kunsthefte, Band I, Berlin o.J.

 

Mugshots

The word ‘mugshot’ is an informal term used describe an official photo taken of suspects in the course of police investigations. The photos serve as a tool to aid in identifying the perpetrator and can be used in the course of ongoing manhunts or criminal trials. In the USA, mugshots enter the public domain immediately, available to everyone through the Freedom of Information Act. The police usually take two mugshots at the time of arrest: one frontal, and one in profile. It is no longer common for the subject to hold a blackboard with his personal information on it, due to advances in digital photography and data recording.

 

Selfies

When someone takes a selfie, they are turning themselves into art. This is not quite the same thing as simply making a picture of oneself – that is, of making a self-portrait. To take a selfie means to take a picture of yourself in which and for which you are already transformed into art. A selfie is, then, in actual fact an image of an image.

The most pointed criticism of selfies distinguishes these from other categories of image, and from self-portraiture in particular. Indeed, although we might identify certain painters throughout history whose choice of themselves as primary subject aroused suspicion, the creation of self-portraits as such was never wholescale condemned as a vice, nor did any meaningful (and critical) discourse around the topic exist. An explanation might be found in the small number of artists who painted self-portraits in the first place; for reasons of sheer quantity (or lack thereof), self-portraiture as a genre or practice could not be fraught with many societal consequences. Perhaps, though, the particular circumstance of the selfie, the essence of its creation, plays a role as well – namely, that whereas a self-portrait is only an image one creates with himself as subject, the selfie must go further, is an image taken of a person already in the act of making himself into an image, into art, to be reproduced in the final image we call ‘selfie.’

 
 

Sources:

Wolfgang Ullrich, “Selfies. Die Rückkehr des öffentlichen Lebens”, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin, 2019.
G. Möller. “Das Mumienporträt,” Wasmuths Kunsthefte, Band I, Berlin o.J.
Dorothee Fauth, “Kunstlexikon. Porträt,” June 2, 2005, for Hatje Cantz online:
Kunstlexikon Portrait

 
 

 
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All offers are noncommital. We cannot guarantee the items are still available on request.
 
 

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Mummy Portraits Podcast Mummy Portraits 24 Very Early Selfies How Artists Explore Identity by MoMA Selfportraits by Arnold Schoenberg Selfportraits by Schirn Kunsthalle Virtual Tour Egyptian Museum Munich Hieroglyph course (in German) The Art of the Selfie Self Portrait van Gogh

Pierre-Michel Lafon de Camarsac, "Portrait de la Duchesse de Luynes", 1865, enamel on copper plaque (from a photograph of a Daguerrotype by an unidentified artist), 7,1 x 8,8 cm, © Daniel Blau, Munich
Pierre-Michel Lafon de Camarsac, “Portrait de la Duchesse de Luynes”, 1865, enamel on copper plaque
(from a photograph of a Daguerrotype by an unidentified artist), 7,1 x 8,8 cm, © Daniel Blau, Munich
The Fine Line

In the history of art, the simple line drawn has always held a position of fundamental importance.

The Fine Line

The Fine Line
In the history of art, the simple line drawn has always held a position of fundamental importance. The earliest ‘artworks’ still available to us today are prehistoric engravings in caves, which, using only the simplest means – in only a few lines – clearly show man and animal, weapon and tool, distinguishable even today by their distinctive and characteristic contours. A high-water mark in the importance of line-based drawing – il disegno – can be found in the theoretical debates that raged through the world of Italian art in the years after the Florentine Academy was founded, debates whose central theme was the matter of whether il disegno played a more essential role in artistic creation than the shading and tonality embodied by the concept of Venetian colorito. The Paragone, the debate of the academies between contour and color, carried on through the centuries until it reached another zenith with the Poussinists and Rubenists. (1)
 

According to art historians and critics of the 20th century, ‘the stroke’ – or ‘the line’ – incorporates the entirety of an artist’s personal drawing style, both its conscious and unconscious characteristics. (2) The line sketches the contours of a shape only in certain regards – “the essentials are marked out, and everything else falls away.” (3) This conception of the line harks back to Leonardo da Vinci, himself of the convinced opinion that no true ‘Line’ in artistic terms exists in nature (4), and that what we conceive of as such is instead the abstraction of those shapes that are at hand and visible around us. “Lines confine and connect, characterize and accentuate.” (5) The line is a symbol, an attempt to make reality visible and comprehensible, but not an immediate, unadulterated imitation itself.
 

Delacroix, for example, in a letter dated the 15th of July, 1849, presents his own perspective on the matter. He positions himself in opposition to the idea that line and beauty have some sort of fundamental linkage, an idea that had enjoyed widespread currency among artists since the 18th century. “That often-discussed Beauty, which one fellow might see in a serpentine line, and another in a straight one – they’re both insisting on seeing nothing but lines. I stand at my window and behold a miraculous landscape, but the thought of a line never once crosses my mind. A lark sings, the river sparkles as though it’s made of a thousand diamonds, the leaves whisper; where are the lines, that can reflect such delightful impressions?” (6)
 

The art historian and author Julius Meier-Graefe (1867-1935) accused his art-creating contemporaries of “babbling on about the line the same way Xenephon’s Greeks once did about the sea,” (7) although he himself had played a large part in popularizing the line-focused aesthetic. (8) Around 1900, enthusiasm for the line increased again, and in all expressions of aesthetic production, in literature and architecture just as much as in the visual arts. It was now understood primarily as a moving element, and artists experimented with it accordingly. Kandinsky’s 1926 Bauhaus textbook “Point and Line to Plane” created a theoretical approach to the expression of different types of line, from a phenomenological perspective. He differentiates between degree of curvature, line variation, and their alignment on the plane. (9)
 
Moreover, it is impossible for a line to exist as nothing more than the outline of a shape alone. The variations between thick and thin, subtle and bold, intersecting and parallel, segmented and sweeping, confidently and haltingly drawn, all serve to impart to audience a feeling, a sensation, that goes far beyond the realm of the purely visible. The artist has other tools and techniques at his or her disposal, such as hatching, that can serve to make those sensations, and the visual cues invoking those sensations, even stronger; the result may very well be more along the lines of a sketched abstraction, or a symbol only indicating or standing in for a natural form, rather than something recognizable as a direct and intentional representation of objective reality. By overcrowding and overlapping lines over line, hatching, for instance, is able to convey a sense of plasticity and drama to the viewer, even though, strictly speaking, it remains only a distant reproduction of the shading that occurs in reality. (10)
 
sources:
(1) Matteo Burioni, Sabine Feser (ed.), “Giorgio Vasari. Kunsttheorie und Kunstgeschichte. Eine Einführung in die Lebensbeschreibungen berühmter Künstler anhand der Proemien”, Berlin 2004, p. 193-196, 229-231
(2) Uwe Westfehling, “Meisterzeichnungen von Leonardo bis zu Rodin”, Cologne 1986, p. 16
(3) Westfehling, p. 16
(4) Walter Koschatzky, “Die Kunst der Zeichnung, Technik, Geschichte, Meisterwerke, Munich 1981, p. 29
(5) Westfehling, p. 17
(6) Kurt Badt, “Eugène Delacroix. Zeichnungen. Eine Einführung auf Grund der Tagebücher des Künstlers”, in: “Eugène Delacroix. Werke und Ideale. Drei Abhandlungen”, Cologne 1965, p. 32
(7) Julius Meier-Graefe, “Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Kunst. Vergleichende Betrachtungen der bildenden Künste, als Beitrag zu einer neuen Ästhetik”, Stuttgart 1904 (new edition by Hans Belting), Munich 1987, Bd. 2, p. 681
(8) Sabine Mainberger, “Experiment Linie. Künste und ihre Wissenschaften um 1900”, Berlin 2010, p. 7-8
(9) Raphael Rosenberg, “Die Linie in der ästhetischen Theorie des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts”, in: Erich Franz (ed.), “Freiheit der Linie. Von Obrist und dem Jugendstil zu Marc, Klee und Kirchner”, Münster 2007, p. 12, after Beate Kemfert (ed.), “Linie und Skulptur im Dialog. Rodin, Giacometti, Modgliani. Werke aus der Sammlung Kasser/Mochary Family Foundation USA”, Munich 2011
(10) Westfehling, p. 17

 
 

 
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John Lurie, "Dog with Florida Leg", 2005, ink on paper, 20,3 x 15,2 cm, © John Lurie, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
John Lurie, “Dog with Florida Leg”, 2005, ink on paper, 20,3 x 15,2 cm, © John Lurie, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Louis Alphonse Poitevin

I SET TO WORK LIKE MANY OTHERS, AND SINCE THAT TIME I HAVE NOT STOPPED THINKING
ABOUT OR PRACTICING THIS NEW ART FORM.

 

Louis Alphonse Poitevin

“JE ME MIS Á L’ŒUVRE COMME TANT D’AUTRES, ET, DEPUIS CETTE ÉPOQUE, JE N’AI PAS CESSÉ, SOIT D’IMAGINATION, SOIT MANUELLEMENT, DE M’OCCUPER DU NOUVEL ART.”
 
“I SET TO WORK LIKE MANY OTHERS, AND SINCE THAT TIME I HAVE NOT STOPPED THINKING ABOUT OR PRACTICING THIS NEW ART FORM.”

 

Alphonse Poitevin (1819-1882) was a chemical engineer who spent 35 years experimenting with photographic chemistry and photomechanical printing. A pioneer of photography’s earliest days, his first images were created with the techniques of his immediate predecessors: daguerreotypes, paper negatives and salted paper prints. However, as a chemist, he was also an inquisitive inventor eager to discover new photographic and photomechanical methods.
 
Today, Poitevin is remembered most for establishing the fundamental principles of four non-silver process families: photolithography, collotype, dichromate relief system, and the carbon pigment process. His inventions refined existing techniques and made the mechanical reproducation of images and thus, the illustration of printed books, possible.
 

Photolithograph, 1856 – 1857
Poitevin was the first to coat a lithographic stone with an albumen layer that had been rendered light-sensitive with dichromate salts. Following exposure to a negative, the entire surface was coated in printer’s ink, then washed in water, with the effect that the unexposed, and therefore unhardened areas would absorb water and cause the greasy ink to detach, whereas the ink remained attached to the surface in the exposed, hardened areas. After drying, the stone could be used for producing multiple lithographic prints in the usual manner.
 

 

Salted paper process, used by Poitevin ca. 1840 – 1850
Invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1840, this positive print process quickly gained popularity in England and France. A sheet of good-quality writing paper was dipped into a table salt solution, dried, then brushed over with silver nitrate dissolved in water. As a result, light-sensitive silver chloride was formed in the paper fibres, and images could be printed out on the sheet. The print was typically fixed with a solution of sodium thiosulfate and often toned with a gold chloride solution to change the image hue from reddish brown to deep purple. Although toning also increased the stability of the print, salted paper prints have always been prone to discolouration and fading.

 

 
Albumen process, used by Poitevin ca. 1847 – 1855
The albumen print was the prevalent photographic paper from the 1850s until the 1890s. A thin sheet of paper was floated on a bath of egg white (albumen) that contained salts. It was then made light-sensitive with a solution of silver nitrate. The albumen formed a discrete layer on the paper surface, which gave the print a distinct gloss and a crisper and more saturated image than a salted paper print. Albumen prints were almost always gold-toned to enrich contrast and colour and to increase image stability.

 

 

Pigment process with ferric chloride and tartaric acid, single or double transfer, 1861 – 1868
Rendering midtones in a pigment print can only be achieved with a transfer step, so Poitevin’s second procédé au charbon was more complex. Poitevin also chose a different light-sensitive substance: ferric chloride and tartaric acid. This mixture was applied to a sheet of glass, then dried and exposed to a negative in sunlight, which rendered only the exposed areas slightly sticky. Pigment powder could then be padded onto the surface, where it adhered, thereby forming a visible image. For a single-transfer print, collodion was poured onto the plate, then transferred – image and all – to a sheet of paper, resulting in a mirrored final image. To remedy this situation, a subsequent second transfer could be performed, bringing the collodion film holding the image to yet another sheet of paper. Differentiating between the single and the doble transfer prints today can be challenging, since the orientation of the original negative is not known.
 

 

Biography
Louis Alphonse Poitevin was born in the small town of Conflans-sur-Anille on August 30, 1819. After graduating from school in 1838, he moved to Paris to study chemistry at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufacture. In 1839, the discovery of the daguerreotype was announced and Poitevin became immediately hooked on photography. Poitevin left the École Centrale just as France was entering the era of industrialisation, and from 1844 on he was quickly able to find employment as a chemical engineer. Over the next 30 years, he worked in salt and copper mines and glassware factories all over France and even in Algeria. At these locations, and in bouts between assignments, he dedicated his spare time to the study and invention of new photographic processes, in a constant quest for improving working practises and achieving successful results. He was extremely versatile in his projects, inventing both photomechanical and photochemical processes. With his photolithographic technique of 1855, Poitevin won the much sought after Grand Prix du Duc de Luynes in 1867, a contest run by the Societé française de photographie. He also won a number of pirzes for his non-silver photographic techniques, including a gold medal at the International Exposition in Paris in 1878. He geld five patents, and his book “Traité des impressions photographiques” was published twice: the first edition in 1862 and a posthumous second edition in 1883. He published over 80 technical articles in professional journals of photography and printing. Poitevin died on March 4, 1882, in the village of his birth.

 

Sources:

 
Martin Jürgens, “The Photographic and Photomechanical Explorations of Alphonse Poitevin”, in: Daniel Blau (ed.), “Louis Alphonse Poitevin 1819-1882”, Hirmer Publishers, Munich 2021, p. 7-9
 
Martin Jürgens, “Biography”, in: Daniel Blau (ed.), “Louis Alphonse Poitevin 1819-1882”, Hirmer Publishers, Munich 2021, p. 79
 
Martin Jürgens, “Index to Plates”, in: Daniel Blau (ed.), “Louis Alphonse Poitevin 1819-1882”, Hirmer Publishers, Munich 2021, p. 52, 57, 64, 72
 

 
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Traveling by Autochrome

Glaciers are among the most beautiful natural wonders on Earth.
 

Traveling by Autochrome

Glaciers are among the most beautiful natural wonders on Earth. For most of us, though, they also remain deeply unknown and misunderstood. Glacial ice has shaped the landscape over millions of years by scouring away rocks, transporting and depositing debris far from its source. Glacial meltwater drives turbines and irrigates deserts, yielding mineral-rich soils and leaving us a wealth of valuable sand and gravel. Our future is bound up closely, if indirectly, with the future of glaciers, and with the impact of their fate on our global climate and sea levels.

 

In 1914, a world’s fair was held in south of France – the Exposition international urbaine de Lyon.
 
The site of the fair sprawled across 184 acres of Lyon’s 7th arrondissement, including the grand Garnier exhibition hall, an imitation alpine village, a horticultural garden, a dedicated pavilion for the city’s famous silk industry, and international pavilions for both foreign nations and France’s overseas colonies. The last day was scheduled for November 1st, but history intervened. The outbreak of World War I forced the closure of the Austrian and German pavilions on August 2nd, and many of the fair’s other delegations left soon afterwards. The Exposition managed to remain open until November, as planned; by the time it officially ended, though, much of the once-proud fairgrounds had been empty for weeks.

 
 

Sources:

Sources:
Michael Hambrey, Jürg Alean, “Glaciers”, Cambridge University Press 2004.
Exposition international urbaine de Lyon

 
 

 
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Fred P. Clatworthy, "Aspen Trees on Mt. Side", 1952, Kodachrome, 12,4 x 17,5 cm, © Fred P. Clatworthy, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Fred P. Clatworthy, “Aspen Trees on Mt. Side”, 1952, Kodachrome, 12,4 x 17,5 cm, © Fred P. Clatworthy, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
The Art of the Autochrome

The Lumière Autochrome, invented and marketed by brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière,
was the world’s first practical color photography process.

 

The Art of the Autochrome

Even from the moment of photography’s invention, the absence of color was recognized as one of its greatest shortcomings. The development of color photography became one of photomechanical research’s primary goals over the course of the 19th century. The photosensitive material in use at the time did in fact register the wavelengths of different colors in our visible spectrum when recording an image – there simply wasn’t a way to directly reproduce that color. Once it was understood that a simple re-creation of color wouldn’t be possible, the technical pioneers and inventors of the time searched for another method, for a way to deconstruct the colors of reality and reassemble them again by scientific means.

 

The Lumière Autochrome, invented and marketed by brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, was the world’s first practical color photography process. The trichrome (publicised a few years earlier) was the first commercially available color process. It was complicated to use, as three separate pictures had to be taken of the same object through different color filters. Thus the autochrome became the first practical color process. After ten years of intensive research and development, the Lumière company introduced the first autochrome plates in 1907. The color pictures that resulted were on glass plates, and viewed as transparencies. They consisted of a color screen superimposed upon a black-and-white positive, which modulated the light passing through the color screen. While more modern color techniques – even those which also resulted in transparencies as the final product – exclusively used subtractive color processes, the Autochrome stands apart for employing additive color.

 

We can narrow the use of Autochrome photography down to a relatively precise period of fifty years: from the commercialization of the process by the Lumière Brothers (1907) until the final end of the technology’s production (1956/57). Its importance, however, had already experienced a significant decline by the end of the 1920s. A turning point came in 1931, when Lumière replaced glass plates with celluloid sheet film (Filmcolor) as its commercially available capture medium. After 1936, Autochrome had to contend with competition in the form of subtractive color process, from Kodak (Kodachrome) and Agfa (Agfacolor), which began gradually replacing Autochrome plates on the market.

 

A glass plate would first be coated with tiny, transparent grains of potato starch that had been dyed in the additive primary colors – red, green, and blue. These dyed grains were mixed and spread in even proportions over the plate, which as a result appeared gray when white light was shined through. The spaces between the grains were filled by a carbon black dye. A final coat, of a black-and-white photographic emulsion, came on top of that. When the photographer placed the plate in the camera, this final coat of emulsion was furthest away from the lens; when the lens was opened, light had to pass through the glass plate and through the colored grains before reaching the emulsion, although it was this emulsion that we actually talk about as being ‘exposed.’

 

Instead of being processed as a normal black-and-white negative, the plate would be subjected to a procedure known as reversal processing: the negative is developed, the developed silver is bleached out before an image is permanently fixed, and finally any remaining silver salts are developed in turn, producing a positive image. Once the plate had been processed and dried, it could be viewed as a transparency, appearing as a photograph in full color.
The Autochrome worked because the positive image – even though monochromatic – acted to modulate the amount of light that went through each grain of dyed starch. In a red area of the picture, for example, a lot of light would have passed through the red grains onto the coating of black-and-white emulsion when the picture was taken. The positive was lightly shaded in that area, so a lot of light would also pass through the red grains when the final transparency was viewed. The green grains in that same area would have blocked the red light when the exposure was made; less light, therefore, would have reached the plate at that place, making that part of the positive darker as well, so that the green grains, when viewed later, were “turned off” by the heavy deposit of silver behind them. In controlling the intensity of the three additive primaries, the Autochrome worked exactly the same way as the modern television or computer screen.
 

The brightness range of the Autochrome was limited for two reasons: the black matrix in which the grains were dispersed reduced the overall transmission of light, and saturated colors could only be achieved by diminishing the brightness of other colors. To make a strong blue, the red and green grains would have to be darkened, so saturated areas appeared as less bright, giving the Autochrome a tonal scale unlike that of any other process.
Part of what makes these early color photographs so fascinating for today’s audience is the unique perspective they offer, a glimpse into a period of humanity’s history we’re accustomed to seeing only in black and white – and that, in turn, we’ve grown used to imagining only in black and white as well. Just as the men and women of the early 20th century would have been amazed to see the world around them in such vivid mechanical reproduction for the first time, we in the 21st century find cause for astonishment too, not now in the colors of the present but the colors of the past.

 

Sources:

Richard Benson, “The Printed Picture”, published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2009.
John Wood, “The Art of the Autochrome. The Birth of Color Photography”, Iowa 1993.
Bertrand Lavédrine, Jean-Paul Gandolfo, “The Lumière Autochrome. History, Technology, and Preservation”, Los Angeles 2013.
André Barret, “Autochromes. 1906/1928”, Paris 1978.
Hanno Platzgummer, “Farben aus der Dunkelkammer. Die Autochrome des Franz Bertolini. 1908-1925”. Innsbruck 1996.

 
 

 
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Louis and August Lumière, "Oiseau Empaillé", c. 1897, stereo Lumière trichrome, 18 x 8,5 cm, © Louis and August Lumière, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Louis and August Lumière, “Oiseau Empaillé”, c. 1897, stereo Lumière trichrome, 18 x 8,5 cm, © Louis and August Lumière, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich