The Art of the Photogravure
A Comprehensive Resource Dedicated to the Photogravure
About | Site Map | Contact | Links
history process EXAMPLES resources blog search collection

October 6th, 2007

Peter Miller In Mongolia




On Exhibit:

Peter Miller
In Mongolia

2 October – 1 November 2007
Fancis Kyle Gallery
9 Maddox Street, London WIS 2QE
T: 0207499 6870

For his second exhibition with Francis Kyle Gallery American printmaker Peter Miller is showing a range of his characteristic work over the past seven years in photogravure. The new exhibition centres on journeys Miller has made in northwest Mongolia.  In this frontierland where the Gobi Desert, steppe grasslands, Altai Mountains and lake country come together, the artist travelled by horse or camel, staying close to the surface textures of landscape which have always fascinated him: rocks, sands, gopher holes, stream crossings, perhaps most of all those seas of grasses responding in endlessly shifting, semi-circular patterns to the pull of wind and weather 

July 13th, 2007

“The Beginnings of Photogravure in Nineteenth-Century France” by Malcolm Daniel


Roofs of Paris Louis Armand Hippolyte Fizeau, 1843

Malcolm Daniel, The Curator in charge of the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum and an expert in the early history of photogravure has generously agreed to allow to post his important essay, "The Beginnings of Photogravure in Nineteenth-Century France."

This essay is adapted from a paper first presented at a colloquium on photogravure at the Institute for Research in Art / Graphicstudio, University of South Florida, Tampa, March 22-24, 1995.  It was published in French translation in Graver la Lumière: L’héliogravure d’Alfred Stieglitz à nos jours ou la reconquête d’un instrument perdu (Vevey, Switzerland: Fondation William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex, Musée Jenisch, 2002). Hank Hine invited Malcolm to explore the topic at the colloquium in Tampa and Jon Goodman, a fellow participant in Tampa, suggested that he publish the paper as part of the Musée Jenisch exhibition catalogue.

 Download PDF article

July 12th, 2007

B&W Magazine: The Photogravures of Andrew Xenios

Xenios_04.jpgLet’s face it; photogravure needs all the good press it can get. That is why I am happy to have learned that in its April 2007 issue (B&W; Issue 50). Black and White magazine featured an interview with photographer and photogravure printer, Andrew Xenios.

Xenios who is American-born, lives in Merida, Mexico.  He was trained at the Rhode Island School of Design and his work can be found in private collections as well as prestigious museum collections around the world.

Download Article (PDF) 

June 17th, 2007

Andrew Smith Gallery Exhibits Signed Camera Work Photogravures


June 22 – August 2007

Santa Fe’s Andrew Smith Gallery opens an exhibit of classic photographs by ALFRED STIEGLITZ, EDWARD STEICHEN and GERTRUDE KASEBIER on Thursday, June 22, 2007.

May 7th, 2007

Contemporary Photogravure

18722_std.jpgPeter Miller has assembled a ‘personal favorites’ collection of contemporary photogravure practitioners and posted the gallery on Luminous-Lint.  A short introduction accompanies the on line exhibit….



visit exhibit



Image Copyright Lothar Osterburg 

April 13th, 2007

A Natural Eye for a Fading Time in England

ART REVIEW – from the Los Angeles Times
By Leah Ollman

Peter Henry Emerson took both sides in the late 19th century debate about photography’s status as an art. First, he fiercely defended the medium’s expressive potential, laying out his case in a landmark 1889 book. A year after its publication, however, Emerson reversed his stance and asserted that photography’s technical constraints trumped its artistic possibilities after all.

The debate itself — carried out not just internally, Emerson versus Emerson, but also heatedly in photography journals and associations — comprises a crucial but remote chapter in the medium’s history. A century later, the arguments have receded, become quaint, while Emerson’s photographs endure — deeply beautiful, evocative works that make the most convincing case of all for the medium’s power.


emerson ph 00006.jpg

Emerson, born in 1856, spent his childhood on his family’s sugar plantation in Cuba and in the U.S. but settled permanently in England as a teenager. He took up photography in the early 1880s, using it almost exclusively to explore the marshlands and rural lifestyles of the coastal region of East Anglia. Over a decade, the period covered in the Getty Museum’s sumptuous show, "The Old Order and the New: P.H. Emerson and Photography, 1885-1895," he published six books and two portfolios of photographs and text on the area.

Rail travel had recently made the East Anglian counties of Norfolk and Suffolk accessible to tourists, shifting land values and threatening the traditional ways of the region’s farmers and fisher folk. Several other photographers published travel guides to the area and its attractions, but Emerson adopted a more anthropological approach, keyed to understanding and preserving the manners and customs of the locals. In attitude, he aligned with John Ruskin and William Morris in championing pre-industrial labor; aesthetically, he found inspiration in paintings of ennobled peasantry by Jean-Francois Millet and Jules Bastien-Lepage.

Emerson’s photographs showing fowl hunters, hay gatherers and reed cutters make poignant records of passing ways of life. They also manifest what Emerson regarded as the essence of photography — its ability to present a naturalistic image, from life. To him, that meant replicating the way the eye registers a scene, with the object of chief attention in sharpest focus and the rest more softly defined. His notion was deemed radical in its day, an upstart challenge to the more popular practice of combination printing, joining multiple negatives to create a narrative scene in crisp focus from edge to edge.

One of Emerson’s most exquisite images, and a prime example of his concept of naturalistic photography, is "Gathering Water Lilies," printed in platinum in the 1887 masterwork "Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads." Emerson’s composition leads the eye directly to a white blossom being lifted from the water by a woman leaning over the edge of a rowboat. Dense reeds behind and tree branches to one side seem to shelter the boat in its placid pocket of the marsh. The picture is a harmonious gem but also part of an informative chronicle of labor: The lilies served as bait of sorts for a type of fish caught in bow nets, like the one folded behind the boat’s oarsman.

The exhibition, organized by the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, England, in association with the Getty, surveys well Emerson’s practice, his context and his contemporaries.

It concludes with selections from his final photographic project, the graphically spare, atmospherically rich "Marsh Leaves" (1895). Hung next to kindred lithographs by Whistler, these final pictures form a coda of understated drama to Emerson’s photographic career. Reductive and unsentimental, they distill the unpeopled landscape to silhouetted forms in lush, charcoal tones. Their vast, empty spaces invite philosophical reflection.

Emerson could be an arrogant showman (issuing medals with his own likeness to photographers he deemed worthy) and a great wit (publishing his renunciation of photographic art in the form of a funeral notice). Above all, he was an impassioned, sensitive observer committed to both visual and emotional truth. "Remember," he wrote to students of photography, "that your photograph is a rough index of your mind; it is a sort of rough confession on paper."

April 6th, 2007

Emerson Exhibit at the Getty

Emerson_06_06.jpgFrom The
By Jim Farber, Staff Writer

PETER HENRY Emerson is the most important and influential 19th-century photographer of whom you’ve probably never heard.
Born May 13, 1856, in Cuba, the son of a British sugar plantation owner and fourth cousin to Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was briefly in America during the Civil War before moving to England, where he attended Cambridge University. Emerson was a renowned athlete and outdoorsman, a physician, a self-styled anthropologist, a devoted Darwinian, a prolific writer/lecturer and a vitriolic critic of those who contradicted his philosophy of photography as "pictorial art." For the last 23 years, one of the great collections of Emerson’s published work has been resting serenely in the vaults of the Getty Museum. Now these remarkable albums are on display as part of a major collaborative exhibition "The Old Order and the New: P.H. Emerson and Photography, 1885-1895." "Why didn’t we display them before?" the Getty’s curator of photography, Weston Naef, asked, as he presided over the exhibition’s opening in March. "There are about 18 published volumes. And if you bring all 18 out and open each to one page, they would only fill two very large tables." The key to making the exhibita reality, he said, was to form a partnership with an existing collection in which the pictures were removed from their original texts. That partner turned out to be the Museum of Photography, Film and Television at Bradford (recently renamed the National Media Museum) in Yorkshire, England. "We borrowed an exhibition they had created for their galleries," Naef said, " and reshaped it to suit our space and provide a context for our albums." The task of dovetailing the two collections, which showcase more than 150 photographs, publications and related ephemera, fell to Anne Lyden, the Getty’s associate curator of photography.

Working with her English counterparts, John Taylor and Philippa Wright, the three curators chose a theme for the exhibit based on the title of one of Emerson’s photographs: "The Old Order and the New."
In the photograph, which is rendered in the soft gray tones synonymous with platinum prints, three men drift in a sailboat somewhere on the Norfolk Broads, that unique landscape of lakes, streams and marshland common to England’s East Anglia. In the distance, an outmoded windmill lies dormant, while its mechanized replacement belches out a plume of steam. It was this confrontation between the old ways and the new, combined with the natural beauty of the region, Lyden said, that stimulated Emerson. "Emerson saw the modernizing effects of the Industrial Revolution having a terrible impact on the region, which was largely rural," Lyden explained. "He’s clearly of a different class than they are," she said. "He’s very affluent, and he’s coming to this very impoverished area. But he sees something heroic in these people and he wants to celebrate it. He gains their trust and immerses himself in their society. He even learns their dialect. At the same time, he takes a very Darwinian approach. And in his texts he refers to them as `peasants’ and `specimens.’ " Ironically, in his effort to preserve the traditions of the past, Emerson incorporated tools that represented the latest technological advancements in photography. His equipment included a stock of the new gelatin dry plates, which freed photographers from the necessity to process film in the field. He carried a light view camera with a relatively long lens that offered variable focusing, he incorporated a variable speed shutter capable of freezing action and he produced a 6-by-8-inch glass negative.

While the equipment Emerson used would have been familiar to the photographers of his day, his theories regarding photography as a means of observing nature were completely unique. And his guiding principle was the action of the human eye. "The image which we receive by the eye," he wrote, "is like a picture minutely and elaborately finished in the center, but only roughly sketched in at the borders. The principal object in the photograph must be fairly sharp. Everything else must be subdued … slightly out of focus." Today, we take Emerson’s "soft focus" approach for granted. But in 1886, when he published his first pioneering book of photographs and anthropological commentary, "Life and Landscapes on the Norfolk Broads," the effect caused quite a stir. When he elaborated upon his ideas in 1889 in an instructional treatise (and aesthetic diatribe) called "Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art," the effect, a writer of the day recalled, was like "a bombshell dropped in a tea party." Prior to Emerson, the notion of "fine art photography" meant slavishly mimicking the sentimental style favored by painters of Victorian England. Emerson’s work rebelled against it, embracing the new approach to landscapes represented by painters such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and the members of the Barbizon school. Emerson called for an entirely new direction in photography based on observations drawn directly from nature, as exemplified in his most famous image, "Gathering Water Lilies." "Nature," he wrote, "is the great refiner, the poor man’s poet and painter."
Wandering through the galleries of the Getty Museum, it’s nearly impossible not to fall under the subtle spell of Emerson’s images, with their somber skies, wafting reeds, glittering streams and stoic "peasants."
Perhaps Nancy Newhall, noted photography critic and author, stated it best when she wrote, "P.H. Emerson was probably the first true photographer-poet."















March 28th, 2007

In Search of the “Naturalistics”: Emerson in Context

Sunday April 1, 2007
4 pm
Museum Lecture Hall, Getty Center

Emerson was an influential and controversial polemicist for a new movement in art photography. In this lecture Hope Kingsley, historian and curator of photography, traces Emerson’s sources in art and optical theory and discusses their relevance to photography in the 19th century. Complements the exhibition The Old Order and The New: P.H. Emerson and Photography, 1885-1895. 

January 22nd, 2007

The Architecture of the Book: An International Symposium

Hosted by Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, the west coast campus of Memorial University, located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, The Architecture of the Book will facilitate critical discourse on the artist’s book from interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary perspectives. Sessions will be held in conjunction with The Architectural Uncanny, an exhibition of prints, photographs and book works by Marlene MacCallum, and will coincide with the 20th anniversary cele bration of The March Hare, Atlantic Canada’s largest poetry festival.    


            Marlene MacCallum, from Domestic Arcana, hand bound book work using photogravure and letterpress, 1999


Read the rest of this entry »

January 20th, 2007

The Old Order and The New: P.H. Emerson and Photography (1885 – 1895)


13 October 2006 – 4 February 2007
National Media Museum,

Bradford, West Yorkshire
A major exhibition showcasing the work of photographer Peter Henry Emerson, with photographs and ephemera drawn largely from the NMPFT and RPS Collections. Guest curator John Taylor and the Museum’s curator Philippa Wright reassess the importance and context of Emerson’s work, which combined new techniques and technology in a bid to record and preserve the traditional life of East Anglia. A book will accompany the exhibition.
Podcast lectures related to this exhibit can be found online  including a brief lecture by John Taylor entitled, ‘The Gravure Print".

For more information visit the National Media Museum’s web site.

December 8th, 2006

Florida Museum of Graphic Arts Photogravure Exhibit

medman_med.jpgTechnology Into Art: The Photogravure From 1850 to Today
November 11 through January 28, 2007

This landmark exhibition has been organized for the museum by the University of South Florida’s Institute for Research in Art and the USF Contemporary Art Museum. 






Edward S. Curtis
Navaho Medicine-Man, from the Prospectus of the North American Indian, 1906 Photogravure, 8 1/2  x 6 inches.  Image courtesy of The Drapkin Collection



Read the rest of this entry »

December 3rd, 2006

Peter Miller Exhibits Images from Mongolia

NextValleyW.jpgDevin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery of Houston recently opened an exhibit of Peter Miller’s photogravures of images from his Mongolia series.  The show runs from December 2 through Jan 11.  For more information please contact the Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, 4520 Blossom Street, Houston, Texas 77007. Tel 713-863-7097, fax 713-863-7130.

September 17th, 2006

Figge Art Museum Exhibits ParkeHarrison Gravures


“The Architect’s Brother” features 42 large-scale photographs made by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, many of which are photogravure prints.  The exhibit runs through Oct. 29 at the Figge Museum of Art, in Davenport, Iowa.

"Images of a man blowing pollen off a mammoth flower, producing clouds in a pit or bandaging branches to a dying tree may seem the result of simple manipulation of digital photos. Yet curator Michelle Robinson said viewers are often shocked to hear the truth: Nothing in the photographs is computer generated."
Read review by Katie Vaughn in the Quad-City Times.

September 12th, 2006

Luminous-Lint highlights photogravure

The Luminous-Lint web site, created by Alan Griffiths, is a rapidly growing comprehensive survey of the history of photography.  Recently – with the help of, Mack Lee, David Spencer and Jon Goodman – Alan has highlighted the photogravure proccess and the important role it has played in the history of photograhy.

August 10th, 2005

Camera Work: A Centennial Celebration

In conjunction with the exhibition “Camera Work: A Centennial Celebration,” at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA, in 2003, The Photo Review has published a 64-page full-color catalogue of the same title with essays by Peter C. Bunnell, Lucy Bowditch, Stephen Perloff, Barbara L. Michaels, and Luis Nadeau.

Read the rest of this entry »