The Art of the Autochrome: The Birth of Color Photography

John Wood, Author, John Wood, Editor, Merry A. Foresta, Foreword by University of Iowa Press $70 (202p) ISBN 978-0-87745-413-7
Photo-historian Wood ( The Daguerreotype ) here resonantly portrays a ``more gracious naive'' era in the art and craft of photography by focusing on turn-of-the-century photographers like Stieglitz, Steichen, Clarence White and Heinrich Kuhn, who employed autochrome, a particularly luminous starch-dye and glass-plate photographic color process. First presented in Paris in 1904 by the Lumiere brothers, autochrome has a nuance and fragility that seems to impose its own aesthetic on practitioners. In one example of the 75 included, Karl Struss's 1910 work, Boardwalk, L.I. , has a charm that eludes today's more glaring standards, in part, perhaps, because the muted softness inherent in the process mitigates the bright sunlight indicated by the numerous raised parasols. Wood's smart text also explains how the Photo-Secessionists, in their artistic and literary ferment, later rejected autochrome. Factual and evocative ``Notes on the Plates'' (far removed from their subjects by the antic tyranny of picture book design) would have benefited from same-page placement, thus enlightening--without distracting--the fortunate viewer. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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