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In the 1920s, photography expanded to include a wide variety of inventive new techniques and styles. In this spirit of experimentation, many artists turned to cameraless photography, a process first discovered around 1834 by William Henry Fox Talbot, who characterized his experiments as “the art of photogenic drawing.” The result of direct contact between object and photosensitized paper, ‘photograms’ feature silhouetted, unavoidably flat imagery with more visual affinities to abstract painting of the time than representational photography attempting to capture volume and three-dimensional space. The relationship between figure and ground resembles that of photographic negatives in that objects protect areas of the paper and thus appear light, whereas the empty spaces around them are depicted by darkness. While Man Ray is credited with first introducing these experiments with light and shadow—‘rayographs,’ as he referred to them—into the realm of modern art, other artists, such as Theodore Roszak, Konrad Cramer, and Gordon Bensley featured in this gallery, were also drawn to the effects of light and matter on chemically treated paper.
Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Assistant | Librarian | Archivist
This object was included in the following exhibitions:Photographic Pioneers [Pioneer Photographers], Addison Gallery of American Art, 5/21/1948 - 7/5/1948
American Photography from the Permanent Collection in Celebration of the 50th An, Addison Gallery of American Art, 10/13/1989 - 12/18/1989
American Abstraction at the Addison, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/18/1991 - 7/31/1991
American Abstraction from the Addison Gallery of American Art, American Federation of Arts, 2/27/1993 - 12/4/1994
In Focus: 75 Years of Collecting American Photography, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/28/2006 - 7/31/2006
Eye on the Collection: Views and Viewpoints, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/19/2008 - 3/23/2008
Light/Dark, White/Black, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/17/2015 - 7/31/2015
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