The first combination printing? Probably invented in Scotland in the early 1850s, combination printing was the layering of separate images onto a single photographic print, through the means of careful masking and the making of successive exposures. Making early combination prints required days of work, quality equipment, and painstaking methods. It was first called "double printing", since only two negatives were used in the early years, usually to print in a well-exposed sky above a landscape Robinson's famous combination print, "Fading away" (1858), pictured a young girl's death due to TB; a common occurrence that undoubtedly contributed to the Victorian cult of childhood. In 1859 he published a booklet, On printing photographic pictures from several negatives. A more detailed book followed in 1869, and then Picture Making by Photography (1884). He became an eloquent advocate for art photography, but Gernsheim (Creative Photography, 1962) shows he preferred the "scissors & paste-pot" rather than combination printing for most prints. The first spirit photographs? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his comprehensive History of Spiritualism (1926), stated that the first deliberate attempts at spirit photography took place in Great Britain in the year 1851. This, however, is a fact that cannot now be confirmed by modern scholars. See Cheroux's The Perfect Medium (2005) for more discussion of this matter. Early spirit photographs were created by means of double exposure, and possibly by simple combination printing. The oldest known surviving spirit photograph is from 1861. Spiritualism itself is generally said to have been invented in 1848, when two little girls, the Fox sisters, claimed they heard the rapping of 'spirits' on a table. 1850/6: The Works of Poe The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe were published in the U.S. (1850 & 1856), although sadly edited by someone who sometimes freely rewrote and recombined the stories. Poe (1809-1849) had been known in his own lifetime — but only as a critic, not as a writer of fiction. Poe's works, along with de Sade and the recovery of European folk/fairy tales, became the seeds of a sophisticated gothic imagination (there had been an unsophisticated pre-1848 literature of 'Penny Dreadfuls' and a brief British craze for horror stage shows) — which can be seen running through Stevenson's Hyde (1886), the 'L'Esprit Decadent' novels of the 1880s, James' The Turn of the Screw (1898), Ernst's collage novels, Lovecraft, Mervyn Peake, Borges, Ray Bradbury, Angela Carter, to Jan Svankmajer and beyond
Dali and fashion/celebrity photographer Philippe Halsman collaborated to create several surreal photographs, notably "Dancer" (1947), "Dali Atomicus" (1948) and "In Mors Voluptate" (1951). The pictures, which might otherwise have been created by photomontage, were actually purely 'straight' shots. Their collaboration culminated in the photography book Dali's Mustache (1954). However, by that time surrealism was effectively silent,
Primarily a street and family photographer, Callahan also experimented with multiple exposures and playful trick photography, but produced only a few finished prints each year. Also a teacher, Callahan taught photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago (1946-) and the Rhode Island School of Design (-1977). The picture below, is from 1951.
British artists in the 50s looked at the brash signs and vulgar advertisements with a distant longing. They’d grown up with austerity and rationing but Hollywood had shaped their dreams. One of the inventors of British pop was Richard Hamilton. Everyone who was creating interesting work at that time was using secondary sources, images from the media. Taking something that was based in real life but had been processed. In this image the word ‘pop’ appears for the first time. Hamilton was interested in how the public were manipulated by the advertisers. In The Critic Laughs Hamilton presents a Pop object based on a product by Braun. Hamilton repeated all aspects of presentation and marketing of the original object. The object was sold in galleries and museums. The whole process was the work of art. The analogy to the industrial and advertising process is more important than the sculptural qualities of the object.
However, in 1955 some others did join him but from a different direction. In 1950s America a city like New York was throwing away a huge amount of manufactured goods and packaging. The motto was replacement not maintenance, disposability not durability. Some artists revisited the concepts started by the Dadaists, 30 years ie. Societies revealed a great deal about themselves through what they threw away. Street junk was to this breed of artists what the flea markets had been to the Surrealists. The master of this approach was 20 year old Texan, Robert Rauschenberg. His Combine series were made from objects he found by walking around his block or one other block.
The television and mass media had a huge impact upon Art. The ability to change channels on the television presents the world in fragments. The fragments become equalised. You’re not expected to scrutinise the images therefore war, catastrophe, love and comedy all have the same weighting. The images themselves were both real and artificial, sometimes revealing themselves as lines and dots. The colour was also artificial, not the colour of paint or ink. Rauschenberg was greatly motivated by these images. In the mid 60s he turned more to these images than found objects. The pieces represented the different images you would see as you flicked through different channels. We flick through so many images that those that stay with us are like signs- simple, clear and repetitious.
The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album (1967) featured on the front cover the "People We Like" photomontage by Peter Blake, bringing photomontage to millions. Terry Gilliam's surreal cut-out animations appeared on British TV from 1967-1974, most famously in Monty Python, and these frequently used Victorian and Edwardian photography and engravings. The new and camp Pop Art revived the art of the collage and photomontage — although in its garishness it might be seen to feed more into the later manipulated photography of Gilbert & George and Pierre et Gilles, rather than into nu-rea
They were originally made to reflect the daily exposure in London to the threat of bombs and terror alerts. But after July 7 last year, when the London bombings killed 52 people, the works were also produced as a memorial. In line with the Gilbert and George tradition, the black, white and red images feature the artists themselves. The pair said: ‘Six Bomb Pictures are the most chilling pictures we have created to date. ‘We believe that as artists we were able to bring something special in thoughts and feelings to this subject, something the media, religious leaders and politicians find difficult to do.’ All contain sandwich board posters with headlines from London’s Evening Standard newspaper containing the words bomber, bombs, bombing, bomb and terror. One of the pieces, Bomb, is a 14-metre triptych that features the London plane tree, with the seeds of the tree referring to regeneration and hope. The artists appear to be covered by wire in one picture, and also feature as guards, witnesses and exploding atomised beings standing in the ashes. Gilbert & George began working together in 1967 when they met at St Martins School of Art, and from the beginning, in their films and ‘living sculpture’ they appeared as figures in their own work. The artists believe that everything is potential subject matter for their work, and they have always addressed social issues, taboos and artistic conventions. Implicit in their work is the idea that an artist’s sacrifice and personal investment is a necessary condition of art.
Svankmajer (1934-) has been making short films since the mid 1960s, and been a member of the Prague Surrealist Group since 1969. In 1972 the communist regime effectively banned him from making films. Yet he managed to make adaptations of Carroll's Jabberwocky (1971), and Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher (1980), among others. Many of his films were banned. Jan Udhe (2005) wrote... "The West ... appeared to be quite oblivious to his existence" until the early 1980s. Channel 4 broadcast his films on British TV, and a major documentary about his work (1983). In 1988 he produced his first feature-film, Carroll's Alice, with funding from Channel 4 With Myst (1993) for the Mac, a potent new avenue for the immersive expression of fantasy and uncanny symbolism emerged, influencing the visual imagination of a new generation of young creatives. American McGee's dark and gothic Alice in Wonderland (2000) was a particularly accomplished highpoint that still has a cult following. In this regard, the work of Ray Caesar points to a future when 'photo-real' tableaux may be easily created in computer-game -like software rather than starting in a camera. A plug-in program for Photoshop, 'Specular Collage', had added a layers function to Photoshop since mid-1993. But the release of Photoshop 3.0, with its native ability to layer and blend different images, provided a polished tool to create seamless photocomposited images. Affordable flatbed scanners became available (plus the cheap RAM needed to handle large scans), meaning that artists could easily scan in found or public-domain material for collages At around the same time that Photoshop put the means of production into the hands of artists, the means of distribution of such images was also released — web browsers that could load images in web pages. However, dial-up access was still painfully slow and monitors were small and fuzzy. As the cost of fast PCs and net access plummeted, the stage was set for a new worldwide web of artistic influence; a web that would link creatives who had never met one another, and which would also start to link deeply into searchable archives of images and books — and 'free' pirated software. However, the web increased pressure on creatives; we had to ask if we were making work good enough to be shown on a world stage. It took until about 1999 for substantial gallery websites to become common. Photoblogging emerged from about 2001 Megapixel digital cameras 1997-1998 The first affordable 1.2-megapixel digital cameras arrived on the consumer market. Users who had a new PC were able to easily connect these via fast new USB ports (in new PCs from 1997). Cheap digital cameras & scanners meant new industries could emerge — such as the simplistic photocollage involved in digital family 'scrapbooking', or the 'joke' face-morphing software. More interestingly, a new fine art Photoshop-manipulated 'uncanny' portraiture can be traced from David Lee's Manimals series (1993) through to the portraits of Loretta Lux (2004)
Micheal Harp uses public domain photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, transforming them in Photoshop into comical/macabre figures from a Poe-esque and Lovecraft-ian parallel universe.
The mayflies of fashion photography start to more frequently take onboard some nu-real themes and approaches, and do them with all the panache, lighting, costumes and large budgets of couture fashion photography. Although highly polished, most attempts appear slapped together and lack depth; but in recent years Eugenio Recuenco is especially notable for his Madame Figaro and Dreams series (both 2006?). In her last years of life (circa 2005) Annie Leibovitz created an elaborate tableaux / photomontaged set for Vogue illustrating The Wizard of Oz
Recap: The origins of Collage and Photomontage
What is ‘Combination
What is a ‘Double Exposure’?
What is the image on the right an
What were the Futurists
interested in showing?
Which art movement used
photomontage to create
What were the intentions of
Post- World War 2
"Dali Atomicus", 1948
Cut outs and cut-ups
(1922 – 2011)
Just what is it that makes todays homes
so different, so appealing? 1956
The Critic Laughs
(scroll down once link is open to clip)