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

 
 

 
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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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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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Pleasantville (movie trailer) 10 movies by The Lumière Brothers Kodachrome (movie trailer) Documentary: National Geographic - The Last Roll of Kodachrome

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
Of Demons, Spirits and Other Creatures

 
‘Demon’ comes from the Greek δαίμων or δαιμόνιον.
 

Of Demons, Spirits and Other Creatures

“Nicht lange brauch ich zu beschwören,
Schon raschelt eine hier und wird sogleich mich hören.
Der Herr der Ratten und der Mäuse,
Der Fliegen, Frösche, Wanzen, Läuse
Befiehlt dir, dich hervor zu wagen
Und diese Schwelle zu benagen,
So wie er sie mit Öl betupft-
Da kommst du schon hervorgehupft!”
 
To conjure up a lengthier spell,
One’s rustling here that will do well.
The Lord of Rats and Mice,
Of Flies, Frogs, Bugs and Lice,
Summons you to venture here,
And gnaw the threshold where
He stains it with a little oil –
You’ve hopped, already, to your toil!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Faust. Part I”
 

“I have also proposed certain theses concerning magic, in which I have indicated that magic has two forms. One consists wholly in the operations and powers of demons, and consequently this appears to me, as God is my witness, an execrable and monstrous thing. The other proves, when thoroughly investigated, to be nothing else but the highest realization of natural philosophy. The Greeks noted both these forms. However, because they considered the first form wholly undeserving the name magic they called it goeteia, reserving the term mageia, to the second, and understanding by it the highest and most perfect wisdom. The term “magus” in the Persian tongue, according to Porphyry, means the same as “interpreter” and “worshipper of the divine” in our language. […] The former is vain and disappointing; the later, firm, solid and satisfying. […] Plotinus also gives signs that he was aware of it in the passage in which he shows that the magician is the minister of nature and not merely its artful imitator. […] That first form of magic cannot justify any claim to being either an art or a science while the latter, filled as it is with mysteries, embraces the most profound contemplation of the deepest secrets of things and finally the knowledge of the whole of nature. This beneficent magic, in calling forth, as it were, from their hiding places into the light the powers which the largess of God has sown and planted in the world, does not itself work miracles, so much as sedulously serve nature as she works her wonders. Scrutinizing, with greater penetration, that harmony of the universe which the Greeks with greater aptness of terms called sympatheia and grasping the mutual affinity of things, she applies to each thing those inducements (called the iugges of the magicians), most suited to its nature. Thus it draws forth into public notice the miracles which lie hidden in the recesses of the world, in the womb of nature, in the storehouses and secret vaults of God, as though she herself were their artificer. As the farmer weds his elms to the vines, so the “magus” unites earth to heaven, that is, the lower orders to the endowments and powers of the higher.”

“[…] Proposuimus et magica theoremata, in quibus duplicem esse magiam significavimus, quarum altera demonum tota opere et auctoritate constat, res medius fidius execranda et portentosa. Altera nihil est aliud, cum bene exploratur, quam naturalis philosophiae absoluta consumatio. Utriusque cum meminerint Greci, illam magiae nullo modo nomine dignantes [goeteian] nuncupant, hanc propria peculiarique appellatione [mageian], quasi perfectam summamque sapientiam vocant. Idem enim, ut ait Porphyrius, Persarum lingua magus sonat quod apud nos divinorum interpres et cultor. […] illa irrita et vana, haec firma fidelis et solida. […] Meminit et Plotinus, ubi naturae ministrum esse et non artificiem magum demonstrat […] Illa denique nec artis nec scientiae sibi potest nomen vendicare; haec altissimis plena misteriis, profundissimam rerum secretissimarum contemplationem, et demum totius naturae cognitionem complectitur. Haec, inter sparsas Dei beneficio et inter seminatas mundo virtutes, quasi de latebris evocans in lucem, non tam facit miranda quam facienti naturae sedula famulatur. Haec universi consensum, quem significantius Graeci [sumpatheian] dicunt, introrsum perscrutatius rimata et mutuam naturarum cognitionem habens perspectatam, nativas adibens unicuique rei et suas illecebras, quae magorum [iunges] nominantur, in mundi recessibus, in naturae gremio, in promptuariis arcanisque Dei latitantia miracula, quasi ipsa sit artifex, promit in publicum, et sicut agricola ulmos vitibus, ita magus terram caelo, idest inferiora superiorum dotibus virtutibusque maritat. […]”

excerpt from: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola,
“Oration on the Dignity of Men”, 1486
 

 
Good to know
‘Demon’ comes from the Greek δαίμων or δαιμόνιον. Both refer, according to Thales of Miletus – the pre-Socratic natural philosopher – to a universal spirit within all things. When Socrates uses it, he means, thereby, the conscience. The Neoplatonists returned to the set of beliefs and superstitions, widespread among the common folk, of δαιμόνια as natural spirits. Their lead was followed by Augustine, for whom δαιμόνια were both helpful and malevolent spirits. Ulfilias translated δαιμόνιον into German as ‘unhulto’ (Modern German ‘Unhold’, or ‘fiend’); Luther translated it as ‘devil.’

 

“I saw a lustful woman, naked and stripped of flesh, red from revolting boils, her corpse gorged upon by snakes, and beside her a barrel-bellied Satyr with fur-coated gryphon claws and an obscene grimace, shrieking out its own damnation; and I saw a covetous man, stiff in death’s stiffness on a sumptuous chaise longue, now cowardly quarry of a host of demons, one tearing out from his rattling mouth his soul, a soul in the shape of a small child (oh, never shall there be for him a resurrection to eternal life!); and I saw a proud man, a nightmarish elf perched upon his shoulder and raking away at his eyes with craggy talons, and I saw more demons, even more, goat-headed, lion-maned, panther-mawed, trapped in a forest of flames whose burning stench I could have sworn I felt in my nostrils and lungs.”
Umberto Eco, “The Name of the Rose”

 
Sources:

Bible Server
RDK Labor “Dämonen”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “Faust 1”
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-94) “Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486)
The Latin Library

 
 

 
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Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, 'Oration on the Dignity of Men', 1486 (full text English) Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, 'Oration on the Dignity of Men', 1486 (full text Latin) Oration on the Dignity of Men - Audiobook Monsters in Art Hieronymus Bosch - The Garden of Earthly Delights Of Monsters and Men - Dirty Paws Kawanable Kyōsai’s Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (1890) The Spider Monster Creating Monsters in the Mansion of Minamoto no Yorimitsu Milena Sidorova - The Spider Dance

Bill Bragg,"Boxheads in the Woods“, 2011, water color on paper, 75,9x56,0 cm, ©Bill Bragg
Bill Bragg,”Boxheads in the Woods“, 2011, watercolor on paper, 75,9×56,0 cm, ©Bill Bragg
resistance
“Es bleibt ein unumstößliches Gesetz der Geschichte, daß sie gerade den Zeitgenossen versagt, die großen Bewegungen, die ihre Zeit bestimmen, schon in ihren ersten Anfängen zu erkennen.”

“It remains an indisputable historical law that history will not allow contemporaries to recognize the first stirrings of the great movements which define their era.”

Stefan Zweig, “Die Welt von Gestern” (“The World of Yesterday”)
“Quant aux gens que j’accuse, je ne les connais pas, je ne les ai jamais vus, je n’ai contre eux ni rancune ni haine. Ils ne sont pour moi que des entités, des esprits de malfaisance sociale. Et l’acte que j’accomplis ici n’est qu’un moyen révolutionnaire pour hâter l’explosion de la vérité et de la justice.”

“As for the people I am accusing, I do not know them, I have never seen them, and I bear them neither resentment nor hatred. To me they are mere entities, spirits of social evil. And the act I am accomplishing here is no more than a revolutionary way to hasten the explosion of truth and justice.”

Émile Zola, “Letter to Mr. Félix Faure. President of the Republic” in: L’Aurore, January 13, 1898

Front page cover of the newspaper L'Aurore for Thursday, January 13, 1898, with Émile Zola's open letter about the Dreyfus affair, source: Wikimedia Commons
Front page cover of the newspaper L’Aurore for Thursday, January 13, 1898, with Émile Zola’s open letter about the Dreyfus affair, source: Wikimedia Commons
caption verso:
Hitler Starts Drive to Capture Reichstag Majority.
Before a frantically cheering crowd which packed the huge sportspalast in Berlin, Feb. 10, chancellor Adolf Hitler, firing the opening gun in his drive to capture a Reichstag majority in the election March 5, blamed socialist governments for all of Germany’s ills. He is shown here delivering his fiery speech in the Sportspalast.
Unidentified German Photographer (Associated Press Photo), "Hitler Starts Drive to Capture Reichstag Majority", February 10, 1933, 16,7 (17,9) x 21,2 (22,8) cm, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper with collaged spot recto (bottom center), printed by February 20, 1933, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified German Photographer (Associated Press Photo), “Hitler Starts Drive to Capture Reichstag Majority”, February 10, 1933,© Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
“Die große Arbeitslosigkeit, die der wirtschaftlichen folgende seelische Depression, die Sucht sich zu betäuben, die Aktivität bedenkenloser Parteien, das waren die Sturmzeichen der nahenden Krise. Und auch die unheimliche Stille vor dem Sturm fehlte nicht, – die einer epidemischen Lähmung gleichende Trägheit der Herzen. Es trieb manche, sich dem Sturm und der Stille entgegenzustellen. Sie wurden beiseitegeschoben. Lieber hörte man Jahrmarktschreiern und Trommlern zu, die ihre Senfpflaster und Patentlösungen anpriesen. Man lief ihnen nach, hinein in den Abgrund, in dem wir nun, mehr tot als lebendig, angekommen sind.”

“The high unemployment, the spiritual Depression following from the economic, the addict’s urge to numb oneself, the activity of unscrupulous parties, all of these were the signs of the coming storm. And neither was the eerie silence before the storm missing – the languor of a heart, crippled as if by epidemic. It drove some to set themselves against the storm and its stillness. They were pushed aside. People would rather listen to the hollering carnival barkers and drummers hawk their panaceas and snake oil. They ran after them, out into the abyss, in which we now, more dead than alive, have arrived.”
Erich Kästner, “Der Gang vor die Hunde” (“Going to the Dogs”), forword to new edition, Munich, Summer 1946

caption verso:
When Hitler Became Chancellor
Standing in the window at upper left, President Paul von Hindenburg silently acknowledges the cheers of thousands who journeyed to the palace to acclaim him after his appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany, in Berlin.
Unidentified Photographer (ACME Newspicture), "When Hitler Became Chancellor", February 7, 1933, 21,7 (22,8) x 16,9 (18,0) cm, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, printed by February 14, 1933, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer (ACME Newspicture), “When Hitler Became Chancellor”, February 7, 1933, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
“So übten sie vorsichtig ihre Methode: immer nur eine Dosis und nach der Dosis eine kleine Pause. Immer nur eine einzelne Pille und dann einen Augenblick Abwartens, ob sie nicht zu stark gewesen, ob das Weltgewissen diese Dosis noch vertrage. Und da das europäische Gewissen – zum Schaden und zur Schmach unserer Zivilisation – eifrigst seine Unbeteiligtheit betonte, weil diese Gewalttaten doch ‘jenseits der Grenze’ vor sich gingen, wurden die Dosen immer kräftiger, bis schließlich ganz Europa an ihnen zugrunde ging.”

“So they carefully practiced their method: always only one dose at a time, and after that dose a short break. Always only one single pill at a time, and then a moment to wait and see if that hadn’t been too strong, if the world’s conscience could still tolerate the dosage. And as the European conscience – to the detriment and disgrace of our civilization – stressed zealously its indifference, since after all these acts of violence were happening ‘that side of the border,’ the doses grew ever stronger, until finally all of Europe perished from them.”
Stefan Zweig, “Die Welt von Gestern” (“The World of Yesterday”)
Unidentified Photographer, "Berlin Magazine Says is Last Picture of Hitler", April 20, 1945, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, with gouache and crayon, printed by May 16, 1950, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer, “Berlin Magazine Says is Last Picture of Hitler”, April 20, 1945,© Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer, “Prosperina ‘Lisetta’ Vallet, a ‘Magis’ Freedom Fighter”, 1944 ©courtesy,Daniel Blau Munich
Peter Leibing, "Conrad Schumann Jumping a Barbed Wire Fence at the Berlin Wall", August 1961, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, printed by May 7, 1969, 24,5 (25,7) x 34,7 (35,8), © Peter Leibing, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Peter Leibing, “Conrad Schumann Jumping a Barbed Wire Fence at the Berlin Wall”, August 1961,© Peter Leibing, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
caption verso:
An East German mother cries while saying goodbye to her daughter outside the West German Embassy in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The mother returned to East Germany Saturday, and the daughter stayed with more than 3,000 refugees who left for the West Sunday
Unidentified Photographer (AP photo), "Germany, East - Refugees", October 2, 1989, 22,4 (22,9) x 18,8 (19,7) cm, portable wire photo machine print on resin and fiber base, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer (AP photo),”Germany, East – Refugees”, October 2, 1989, portable wire photo machine print on resin and fiber base, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
caption verso:
East German citizens, using ladders built from boards, scale the walls of the West German Embassy in Prague, Czechosslovakia, in a desperate attempt to reach the first step in their bid for freedom.
Unidentified Photographer, "East German Citizens Scale the Walls of the West German Embassy in Prague", October 4, 1989, silver gelatin print on matte fibre paper, printed in 1989, 19,3 x 23,2 cm, © Unidentified Photographer , courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer, “East German Citizens Scale the Walls of the West German Embassy in Prague”, October 4, 1989, © Unidentified Photographer , courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
caption verso:
Accompanied by her boy friend, this blonde West Berlin girl stands on a precarious perch near the top of the wall to talk with her mother on the East Berlin side. While it’s just an exciting tourist attraction for many, it’s a heart-breaking “visiting room” for the enormous prison that East Berlin has become for some.
Unidentified Photographer (UPI Photo), "Pictures on the Wall", April 21, 1962, 19,3 (20,4) x 24,7 (25,6) cm, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, printed by April 24, 1962, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer (UPI Photo), “Pictures on the Wall”, April 21, 1962, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
caption verso:
Break in the Barrier East Berlin: An East German border guard stands on duty at the hole in the Berlin dividing wall, which was caused by a truck attempting to break through to freedom in West Berlin. Two men in the truck which rammed the wall had to flee under a hail of bullets after the vehicle was stopped by the wall. Reports said the two men escaped on foot as the East German guards fired on them.
Unidentified Photographer (UPI Photo), "Break in the Barrier", April 16, 1962, 16,5 (18,0) x 21,8 (23,0) cm, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, printed by April 24, 1962, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer (UPI Photo), “Break in the Barrier”, April 16, 1962, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
caption verso:
Berlin: West Berlin police check passes of Russians in civilian dress who are trying to enter the western sector of the city here 11/1, through checkpoint Charlie. The West Berlin police demanded all Russians in civilian dress to prove their identity before they were allowed to continue into West Berlin. The action was apparently approved by the U.S., Britain and France in retaliation for attempts by East German Communist police to restrict movement of Western Allied officials in East Berlin.
Unidentified Photographer, "Berlin", January 11, 1961, 14,0 (17,9) x 20,0 (22,8) cm, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, printed by November 10, 1961, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer, “Berlin”, January 11, 1961,© Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
caption verso:
Berlin: Young children play near the Berlin Wall, on the western side. It is a wall that has brought sorrow to many, and freedom to few. Improved security procedures employed by the Communists have cut down the number of attempted and successful escapes. In the background are apartment buildings that are under construction.
Unidentified Photographer (UPI Photo), "The Berlin Wall", June 8, 1969, 24,7 (25,6) x 17,0 (20,8) cm, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, printed by August 11, 1969, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Unidentified Photographer (UPI Photo), “The Berlin Wall”, June 8, 1969, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
 
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The US Constitution Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany Constitution française du 4 octobre 1958 Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana (Principi fondamentali) Paper on Conflict and Fragility Fact Sheet EU Conflict Early Warning System

Early Photography in Japan

Photography was first introduced to Japan at a time of great upheaval in the country.
 

Early Photography in Japan

Fundamental political, social, and economic convulsions were followed by rapid reform and modernization. In the midst of it all, early photographers, both western and Japanese, were able to capture the people, places, and events of a changing world on camera.
 

The story of photography’s spread throughout Japan begins on the southern island of Kyūshū. During the Edo period (1615-1868), Kyūshū’s dominant clans obtained information regarding the outside world from Nagasaki, via the small Dutch trading outpost on the artificial island of Dejima. It was through Dejima that photography was first introduced to Japan. Since literature regarding early photography – and teachers, necessarily foreign, of the new craft – were scarce, early enthusiasts had to rely on personal encounters with foreign professionals to acquire photographic skills and knowledge of their own.

 
It was around 1846 when the daguerreotype camera, using silver plates, was first brought to Japan. One such apparatus was brought from Dejima to the Takeo clan by a merchant named Ueno Shunnojō, whose son, Hikoma, would go on to become an accomplished photographer in his own right. The Takeo clan returned the daguerreotype to the Dutch, however, unable to understand how to use it. It was only after that that some of Dejima’s own residents, notably doctors like Van den Broek and his successor Pompe, along with their Japanese medical students, attempted to learn the art themselves, aided by little more than Dutch books and manuals. At the same time, the Satsuma and Fukuoka clans also began tackling the secrets of the photographic process. Each clan had achieved partial success with silver plates by the latter half of the 1850s; for this reason, those few years can be seen as the true dawn of photography in Japan.
Today, 75 years later, the photographs taken in Nagasaki on August 10, 1945, are considered the most extensive eyewitness account of the bombing, and the “ground zero” of Atomic Photography.
 
 
The encounters between the French photographer P. Rossier and early Japanese pioneers of photography, such as Furukawa Shunpei, Maeda Genzō, and Ueno Hikoma, brought about further developments, in leaps and bounds, in Japanese photography. Rossier came to Nagasaki as a correspondent, and subsequently became the first photographer to sell landscape photographs of Japan in Europe.
 
 
When Felice Beato (1834 – c. 1900) established a photographic studio in Yokohama in 1863, he was at the height of his creativity. At this point Beato had already built up an impressive track record as a commercial photographer, having chronicled the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the Second Opium War in China. Beato was therefore unique among his western contemporaries in Japan for his photographic experience. During the remainder of the 1860s, and well into the following decade, Beato enjoyed a reputation as the country’s premier photographer, until he sold his studio to Baron von Stillfried in 1877. Beato’s work remains the first significant body of photographs taken by a western photographer living and working in Japan, one with which both Japanese and westerners were familiar. The history of photography – not only in Japan, but also as a worldwide whole – is richer as a result of his life, his work, and the artistic encounter it engendered.
 
 

Hand-Colored Photographs

Throughout the nineteenth century, photography was entirely black and white. While differences in shading might be discernable from one print to another, depending on the exact process used to produce them, the data captured by cameras themselves was monochromatic. This was because silver halides – the family of salts that are light-sensitive enough for use in cameras – only respond to light at the blue end of the visual spectrum, which made recording colors in other parts of the spectrum difficult. There already existed a long history of hand-coloring etchings and engravings, though, and this practice was easily transferred to the new medium of the photograph.
The daguerreotype in its earliest form had a dull, gray appearance, which was often relieved by applying pale red highlights to the subject’s cheeks or spots of gold to the buttons on a jacket.
In Japan, albumen prints (produced for the tourist trade) were often treated with wild applications of color – cherry blossoms became pink, hanging wisteria blue. These modifications were made with diluted oil paints prepared for the purpose. Even long after the invention of color photography these oil colors were still sold in kits, so that the favorite family portrait could be customized and made more lifelike.
 
 
Sources:
Terry Bennett, “Photography in Japan. 1853-1912”, Singapore 2006.
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, Mikiko Hirayama, “Reflecting Truth. Japanese Photography in the Nineteenth Century”, Amsterdam 2004.
Richard Benson, “The Printed Picture”, published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York 2008, p. 186.
 
 

 
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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How Colorized Photos Helped Introduce Japan to the World Tourism and Science in Early Japanese Photographs Sites of 'Disconnectedness': The Port City of Yokohama, Souvenir Photography, and its Audience Digital Photo Colorization The Paper Time Machine Cees Nooteboom Explores the Ancient Japanese Temple Kozan-ji Sam Francis in Japan by Richard Speer

Unidentified Photographer, "Daiya Gawa", c. 1870, hand colored albumen print, 42,4 x 53,2 cm, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munic
Unidentified Photographer, “Daiya Gawa”, c. 1870, hand colored albumen print, 42,4 x 53,2 cm, © Unidentified Photographer, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich
Yoshito Matsushige & Yōsuke Yamahata

Eyewitnesses of the final bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
 

Yoshito Matsushige

Yoshito Matsushige (1913-2005) was born in Kure, Hiroshima. As a photojournalist, he took five photographs on August 6, 1945, the day of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. At the time of the explosion, Matsushige was at home, 2.7 km south of the hypocentre. He is the only person to have captured an immediate, first-hand photographic account of the bombing. Matsushige dedicated most of the rest of his life to organizing and preserving the photographic history of the atomic bombing of his hometown.
 

“I had finished breakfast and was getting ready to go to the newspaper when it happened. There was a flash from the indoor wires as if lightening had struck. I didn’t hear any sound, how shall I say, the world around me turned bright white. And I was momentarily blinded as if a magnesium light had lit up in front of my eyes. Immediately after that, the blast came. I was bare from the waist up, and the blast was so intense, it felt like hundreds of needles were stabling me all at once. The blast grew large holes in the walls of the first and second floor. I could barely see the room because of all the dirt. I pulled my camera and the clothes issued by the military headquarters out from under the mound of the debris, and I got dressed. I thought I would go to either the newspaper or to the headquarters. That was about 40 minutes after the blast. Near the Miyuki Bridge, there was a police box. Most of the victims who had gathered there were junior high school girls from the Hiroshima Girls Business School and the Hiroshima Junior High School No.1. They had been mobilized to evacuate buildings and were outside when the bomb fell. Having been directly exposed to the heat rays, they were covered with blisters, the size of balls, on their backs, their faces, their shoulders and their arms. The blisters were starting to burst open and their skin hung down like rugs. Some of the children even have burns on the soles of their feet. They’d lost their shoes and run barefoot through the burning fire. When I saw this, I thought I would take a picture and I picked up my camera. But I couldn’t push the shutter because the sight was so pathetic. Even though I too was a victim of the same bomb, I only had minor injuries from glass fragments, whereas these people were dying. It was such a cruel sight that I couldn’t bring myself to press the shutter. Perhaps I hesitated there for about 20 minutes, but I finally summoned up the courage to take one picture. Then, I moved 4 or 5 meters forward to take the second picture. Even today, I clearly remember how the view finder was clouded over with my tears. I felt that everyone was looking at me and thinking angrily, “He’s taking our picture and will bring us no help at all.” Still, I had to press the shutter, so I harden my heart and finally I took the second shot. Those people must have thought me duly cold-hearted. Then, I saw a burnt streetcar which had just turned the corner at Kamiya-cho. There were passengers still in the car. I put my foot onto the steps of the car and I looked inside. There were perhaps 15 or 16 people in front of the car. They laid dead one on top of another. Kamiya-cho was very close to the hypocenter, about 200 meters away. The passengers had stripped them of all their clothes. They say that when you are terrified, you tremble and your hair stands on end. And I felt just this tremble when I saw this scene. I stepped down to take a picture and I put my hand on my camera. But I felt so sorry for these dead and naked people whose photo would be left to posterity that I couldn’t take the shot. Also, in those days we weren’t allowed to publish the photographs of corpses in the newspapers. After that, I walked around, I walked through the section of town which had been hit hardest. I walked for close to three hours. But I couldn’t take even one picture of that central area. There were other cameramen in the army shipping group and also at the newspaper as well. But the fact that not a single one of them was able to take pictures seems to indicate just how brutal the bombing actually was. I don’t pride myself on it, but it’s a small consolation that I was able to take at least five pictures. During the war, air-raids took place practically every night. And after the war began, there were many foods shortages. Those of us who experienced all these hardships, we hope that such suffering will never be experienced again by our children and our grandchildren. Not only our children and grandchildren, but all future generations should not have to go through this tragedy. That is why I want young people to listen to our testimonies and to choose the right path, the path which leads to peace.”

 

Yosuke Yamahata

At the time of the final bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in August 1945, Yōsuke Yamahata (1917-1966) was a propaganda photographer for the Japanese News and Navy Divisions of the Information Bureau. Yamahata spent most of the 1940s in Southeast Asia, where he photographed the deployment of the Japanese military. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima he was 28, and just transferred back to Tokyo. He had driven through Hiroshima the previous day, on his way to the military base In Hakata. Three days later Nagasaki was bombed. An investigative team left Hakata for Nagasaki, or what remained of it, that same evening. It consisted of Yamahata, the writer Jun Higashi, the painter Eiji Yamada, and two military escorts. It was night the next day when they returned, and when Yamahata, gone immediately to develop his film alone in his darkroom, made the decision to keep it, not to turn it over to the News and Information Bureau. It wasn’t until the end of the month – after Japan had surrendered, and with encouragement from his father – that Yamahata published the first of his pictures, in daily newspapers distributed nationwide. Soon afterwards the new press censorship orders from General MacArthur, now Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, took effect, and banned any publication in connection with nuclear warfare for the next seven years. It was 1952 before censorship was lifted again and Yamahata’s photographs were made available to the public, in a monograph entitled Atomized Nagasaki. For the photographer, the following years were characterized by the push and pull of his pictures’ use, or misuse, as military propaganda, and their place in the struggle for nuclear disarmament and world peace.

Today, 75 years later, the photographs taken in Nagasaki on August 10, 1945, are considered the most extensive eyewitness account of the bombing, and the “ground zero” of Atomic Photography.
 
 
Publication “X-Ray Japan -1945” Get Your Copy Here

 

 
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Yoshito Matsushige's video testimony by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Documentary 'Tale of Two Cities' Document by U.S. Army Signal Corpse Pictorial Division 'The Atom Strikes!'

“Nagasaki Journey”, August 10, 1945, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, 16,4 (17,8) x 11,4 (12,9) cm
Yōsuke Yamahata, “Nagasaki Journey”, August 10, 1945, silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, 16,4 (17,8) x 11,4 (12,9) cm, ©Yōsuke Yamahata, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich