The Husband and Wife Pioneers of the Photomontage
“I’ve spent so much time in the darkroom that it’s a part of me,” says Jerry Uelsmann, a pioneer in darkroom techniques who discovered a way to calibrate negatives on enlargers to blend various photographic images into a single surrealistic photomontage. Over the course of a career that began more than 50 years ago, his manipulated photographs have grown more beguiling and complex, but his methods and materials have remained the same. “The darkroom to this day—even though the computer world has emerged—has an alchemy aspect for me. It’s magical watching an image come up in the developer,” he says. Out of Uelsmann’s darkroom come exquisitely crafted gelatin silver prints featuring, for example, a thick mass of roots sprouting a house or, in a nod to Marcel Duchamp and the Surrealists, an eye embedded in a urinal.
American, b. 1934, Detroit, Michigan