The Art of the Photogravure
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August 26th, 2009

The Death of Photogravure

barakeino32


“There is a sense of panic out there…” were the words of Dick Sullivan, proprietor of Bostick-Sullivan. “Without it, photogravure in its present form will cease to exist. End of story,” were Craig Zammiello’s words. ”This is very big!!!! and harrowing!” said Jon Goodman.


What is all the fuss about? Well it appears as though Autotype, the only manufacturer of pigmented gelatin tissue, a material critical to the photogravure process, has decided to cease production… “It is with sadness that after 100 years of supply, MacDermid Autotype is now forced to discontinue the manufacture of Gravure Pigment Papers and films due to the withdrawal of two unique raw materials.”


Without this material, practicing photogravure ateliers have two choices – make their own gelatin tissue (a laborious and unpredictable prospect) or practice polymer photogravure – a distant second choice and not an option for purists.


Hopefully Richard Sullivan will come to the rescue. He is versed in manufacturing carbon tissue and is working diligently to save photogravure. Talking with him today, it appears as though he is making positive strides toward a product that might just be better than Artotype’s (thicker – allowing more depth in the etch). Too complicated for this layperson, the status of the situation can be followed on Richard’s forum, which – if you take the time to read it, illustrates just how complex this process is.


By the way, I must admit I was pleased to hear Richard, a legend in the world of alternative process, tell me that photogravure was among his top top three of all photographic processes when it comes to beauty.