Monday, September 03, 2007

Chuck Close - Daguerreotypes.


"photography never got any better than it was in 1840"

This is sort of old news (but I took a pile of unread magazines away with me to the cottage this week as we watched the leaves starting to turn... and I finally sat down and caught up on some articles) but I quite like these portraits Chuck Close produced working with the daguerreotype process.

As I understand it, when they were displayed they were displayed quite small as the one-off originals that are traditional daguerreotypes (6 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches - what's that - Whole Plate size?) - almost jewel like in their detail and polished metal finish.

From a very short interview on the Guardian:

Lorna is one of my artist friends. She has a very infectious smile and very sensuous lips - I had a photograph on my wall for a long time of just her lips. I love the way her face looms out of the darkness and floats there above the out-of-focus neck and chest. I love the way she looks too - the range of things that are in her face. And then there is this sculptural quality, almost like a Brancusi or something...


The picture is a daguerreotype, which used to be called "keepers of light". They have a range from the deepest, darkest velvety blacks to the brightest highlights that reflect into your eyes. Each picture has unbelievable detail and very shallow depth of field. Photographs are often so big now that 20 or 30 people can view one at the same time, but a daguerreotype is the most intimate image made with a camera, because it is small and only one person can look at it...

I'm not interested in daguerreotypes because it's an antiquarian process; I like them because, from my point of view, photography never got any better than it was in 1840.

There is a book of them available (an earlier version is out of print I think)

Also a slightly longer piece here on Lensculture


1 comment:

stanco said...

Along with Ellen Susan's Soldier Portraits, these are some of the most amazing new portraits to come out of America, or anywhere.