The Eye of Imogen Cunningham

Tom Gramegna
Feb 16, 2015 6:14PM

"The Eye of Imogen Cunningham" portfolio includes twenty-five platinum/palladium prints on 16x20 cotton rag paper, in an edition limited to no more than fifty sets. This collection is divided into sections, with five photographs illustrating five diverse periods spanning Imogen Cunningham's lifelong photography career: "Pictorial Prose", "Modern Vision", "Undulating Realism", "Surrealist Encounters", and "Infinite Light".  As one of the most accomplished photographers of the 20th Century, Imogen Cunningham crafted a diverse body of work, visually demonstrating the evolution of her imaginative and artistic approach to photography, centered on her belief that the camera was capable of seeing and capturing moments that our eyes don't perceive.

Always a fiercely independent spirit who forged her own path in life and art, regardless of expectations of society and the times she lived, Imogen influenced and was influenced by many of the greatest icons of 20th Century photography and art. She was a well traveled woman of the world, especially in her early years and embraced the evolution of artistic movements.  She maintained close touch with the most influential photographers including Alfred Steiglitz, Gertrude Kasebier, Edward Curtis, Dorothea Lange, and Alvin Langdon Coburn.  Along with Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and four others, they founded the seminal Group F.64, considered among the most influential artists of the 20th century. From her beginnings in pictorial portraits to the "street" photography she practiced at the end of her 70 year career, Imogen made the ordinary and mundane alluring.

It's quite fitting that this classic work is printed in platinum, the most archival of photographic printing processes. Imogen's ties to the process are many, starting with its' perfection just before Imogen's birth. In 1909, she won a fellowship for foreign study in Germany where she published a paper describing methods to improve clarity, highlights, increase printing speed and sepia toning in platinum. Employing this vintage technique in this modern portfolio gives the imagery a timeless print quality that perfectly characterizes the nature of Imogen's body of work.

"The Eye of Imogen Cunningham" is on view at Gallery 270 Feb. 13 - Mar. 30, 2015. 

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Tom Gramegna