Category Archives: photographs

photographs

Musical Families

The Hurtt Family, taken in Detroit, Michigan

 

This is the third in a series of three posts introducing our new collection of vernacular portrait photographs of American musicians. Originally owned by Pasadena visual and sound artist Steve Roden, some images were published in his book I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces …, and others are seen by the general public for the first time here. These are all part of a collection of approximately 330 photographs now in the Graphic Arts Collection.

Additional images from the collection can be seen at: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2020/10/26/american-musicians/

Highlights include close to a hundred images of women musicians, from soloists to women’s bands and cabaret acts; images of musical ‘special personalities’, e.g. a one-armed musician, albino musicians, and an African-American dwarf troubadour, Lynn Lewis White; child musicians, including vaudeville performer L. Wade Ray, “The Boy Wonder Youngest Violin Player in U.S.A.;” a number of examples depicting one-man bands; and unidentified African-American musicians.

Seen here are a few of the family bands popular in the United States at the end of the 19th century.

Mitchell’s Concert Band, taken in Lavalle, Wisconsin

 


A member of the Shippen Family Band, taken in Lebanon, Kansas

 

The Noss Family Band, of New Brighton, Pennsylvania

 

The Celebrated Female Band, now with the Burr Robbins

 

 

Brother and sister?

 

 

 

Steve Roden, I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955 (Atlanta, Ga.: Dust to Digital, 2011). Mendel ML87 .R654 2011

One Person Bands


This is the second of three posts introducing our new collection of vernacular portrait photographs of American musicians. Originally owned by Pasadena visual and sound artist Steve Roden, some images were published in his book I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces …, and others are seen by the general public for the first time here.

Sitters include the popular showman Professor McCrea [below], an Ontario-born one man band, along with several other polymuses seen here. These are all part of a collection of approximately 330 photographs now in the Graphic Arts Collection.

Additional images from the collection can be seen at: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2020/10/26/american-musicians/

Highlights include close to a hundred images of women musicians, from soloists to women’s bands and cabaret acts; images of musical ‘special personalities’, e.g. a one-armed musician, albino musicians, and an African-American dwarf troubadour, Lynn Lewis White; child musicians, including vaudeville performer L. Wade Ray, “The Boy Wonder Youngest Violin Player in U.S.A.;” a number of examples depicting one-man bands; and unidentified African-American musicians.



 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Roden, I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955 (Atlanta, Ga.: Dust to Digital, 2011). Mendel ML87 .R654 2011

American Musicians

Back in 2011, Pasadena visual and sound artist Steve Roden published a collection of vernacular photographs together with several compilation CDs entitled I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces …, which presented music and musicians we might not otherwise know or appreciate. Derived mainly from flea market cabinet cards and photographic postcards 1860-1930, the images capture musicians old and young; country and city; classically trained and self-taught; costumed and barefooted.

Popular showmen such as Professor McCrae, a Canadian one man band, are presented but the majority of the collection are unidentified next-door neighbors you may have seen at the local town square gazebo or fairgrounds. Some portraits were taken at commercial studios, possibly the one formal photograph someone may have had made. Still others reveal a bed sheet quickly tacked up on the porch to serve as a homemade backdrop. Either way, someone cared enough to print each of these photographs onto a penny postcard or paper mount, to be mailed or shared with others.

Roden organized the images “to create what he calls ‘his specifically timed experience. There are these pauses where there are photos with no people, and a quote from a literary text. The whole thing is about slowing down.’ And, in an odd way, the visual aspect of the book is also an ode to silence. ‘There something very absurd about collecting images of something that’s not present in the photograph — which is the sound,’ says Roden. ‘There’s something perverse about that.’”–Randall Roberts, LA Times

 

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired approximately 330 photographs, 1880s to 1930s, originally owned by Steve Roden, some published in his 2011 book I listen to the wind… and others never before seen by the general public. The contents have been variously listed as blind musicians, family bands, poised soloists, women’s social clubs, sibling groups, drinking buddies, and all kinds of instruments (one-man bands, glass harps, bassoons, banjos, violas, drum kits, trumpets, and clarinets, et al.). This group is specifically American portraits.

Highlights include close to a hundred images of women musicians, from soloists to women’s bands and cabaret acts; images of musical ‘special personalities’, e.g. a one-armed musician, albino musicians, and an African-American dwarf troubadour, Lynn Lewis White; child musicians, including vaudeville performer L. Wade Ray, “The Boy Wonder Youngest Violin Player in U.S.A.;” a number of examples depicting one-man bands; and unidentified African-American musicians.


 

 

 

This is the first of three posts offering a taste of our wonderful new collection. The next post will feature one-person-bands and the third, musical families.

 

 

Major Lynn Lewis White, 21 years old

 


 

 

 

 

Steve Roden, I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955 (Atlanta, Ga.: Dust to Digital, 2011). Mendel ML87 .R654 2011

Chris Killip 1946-2020

In Flagrante is one of the greatest photobooks of our generation. Its artist/author Chris Killip passed away yesterday at the age of 74. His photographs for that series, created between 1973 and 1985, were published, sold out, republished, sold out, and continue to be loved by the world. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have one or at least a reproduction of one.

“History is what’s written, my pictures are what happened.”

In the Guardian today, Martin Parr is quoted, “Chris is without a doubt one of the key players in postwar British photography. …It was a different way of looking. Put simply, Chris created a new narrative by looking more closely at his subjects and what they represented.”

While Four Young Photographers, the catalogue for Killip’s 1972 group show quickly made its way to library shelves in America and remains a classic, his prints were first appreciated on the East Coast thanks to John Szarkowski’s 1989 exhibition Photography Until Now, followed in 1990 by MoMA’s British Photography From The Thatcher Years.

Fittingly born on the Isle of Man, Killip was a charming and enthusiastic mentor to many young students. “In 1991, Killip was invited to Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a visiting lecturer. He embraced the move to America, was made a tenured professor in 1994, and remained teaching at the world-famous university until 2017, as a professor of visual and environmental Studies.”—Art Newspaper

His personal webpage offers more: https://chriskillip.com/index.html, including this link to a recent interview: https://a-small-voice-conversations-with-photographers.simplecast.com/episodes/094-chris-killip

A few years ago, The Getty mounted Now Then: Chris Killip and the Making of “In Flagrante”, noting “Poetic, penetrating, and often heartbreaking, Chris Killip’s In Flagrante remains the most important photobook to document the devastating impact of deindustrialization on working-class communities in northern England in the 1970s and 1980s. The fifty photographs of In Flagrante serve as the foundation of this exhibition, which includes maquettes, contact sheets, and work prints to reveal the artist’s process. The show also features material from two related projects—Seacoal and Skinningrove—that Killip developed in the 1980s, included selectively in In Flagrante, and revisited decades later.” — https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/chris_killip/

 

Chris Killip (1946-2020), In flagrante; with an essay by John Berger and Sylvia Grant (London : Secker & Warburg, 1988).
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/oct/14/chris-killip-hard-hitting-photographer-of-britains-working-class-dies-aged-74

VOID

With sincere thanks to Eduardo Cadava, Professor of English, and an Associate Member of the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the School of Architecture, the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Graphic Arts Collection has acquired a wide variety of artists’ books and photobooks from the Athens collective known as VOID. https://void.photo/store According to their website:

“Created in October 2016, Void is a non profit organization focused on alternative publishing, exhibitions and education. Our goal is to engage in a series of projects around photography and other visual arts. We are open to new ideas, and you are more than welcome to get involved and be part of our projects. It’s our goal to make Void a platform for exchanging ideas with people living both in Greece and abroad. We have collaborated with many Greek and International photographers and institutions like American Suburb X, ISSP, Athens Photo Festival, Istanbul Photobook Festival, Lucy Art Residency, PHmuseum, LensCulture among others. If you feel like reading more about Void, here you find a nice feature by Cat Lachowskyj for LensCulture.”

The titles come in all shapes and sizes and formats including a variety of bindings, papers, and electrical devices. Each author appears to have designed their own. To see more information, check out the website where each project is described in detail.

As with several other acquisitions, this order was made long before the virus hit everyone but it was worth waiting for. Please note they are welcoming new projects and portfolios:

“Void is a small but very passionate team, formed by only 3 overworking members, struggling hard to deliver the best results to the projects that are already in-house. For this reason, be patient. If we fall in love with your project, you will know it. One day. But you will. Now, send us that PDF. We are as curious as busy.”
https://void.photo/contact

This is just a tiny sample of the 3 dozen or so publications received.

Parallèle des édifices anciens et modernes du continent Africain

 

Pierre Trémaux was a remarkable artist, naturalist, and architectural historian, best remembered for his three part publication on the architecture of Africa and Asia Minor: Voyage au Soudan oriental et dans l’Afrique septentrionale executes de 1847 a 1854; Parallèle des édifices anciens et modernes du continent Africain; and Exploration archéologique en Asia mineur. We are fortunate to be adding the second part to the Graphic Arts Collection, leaving only the third yet to be acquired.

Trémaux meant to document the people and places he saw using the early paper negative process but the quality of the prints was not good. Ultimately, the majority of the published plates are tinted lithographs. In the second volume, he bound the fading salt prints directly opposite a lithograph of the same scene, providing excellent historical comparisons for art and architectural historians. For our purposes here, only single plates are reproduced since photographing two pages in this oblong volume would make them exceptional small.

Now at Princeton: Pierre Trémaux (1818-1895), Voyages au Soudan oriental et dans l’Afrique septentrionale, exécutés de 1847 à 1854: comprenant une exploration dans l’Algérie, le régences de Tunis et de Tripoli, l’Égypte, la Nubie, les déserts, l’île de Méroé, le Sennar, le Fa-Zoglio, et dans les contrées inconnues de la Nigritie; atlas de vues pitoresques, scènes de mœurs, types de végétation remarquables, dessins d’objets éthologiques et scientifiques, panoramas et cartes géographiques (Paris: Borrani, [1852-58]). 37 x 55 cm. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2013-0025E. Purchased with funds from the Friends of the Princeton University Library. Fully digitized

Pierre Trémaux (1818-1895), *Parallèles des édifices anciens et modernes du continent africain: dessinés et relevés de 1847 à 1854 dans l’Algérie, les régences de Tunis et de Tripoli, l’Égypte, la Nubie, les déserts, l’Ile de Méroé, le Sennar, la Fa-Zoglo et dans les contrées inconnues de la Nigritie: atlas avec notices (Paris: Librairie L. Hachette et Cie., éditeurs, [between 1854 and 1858?]). 35 x 54 cm. Graphic Arts Collection 2020 in process

*No two extent copies are alike. This copy now at Princeton contains 84 lithographic plates (including title page) and 7 salt prints from paper negatives.

Architect, orientalist and photographer, Pierre Trémaux (1818-1895) made a first naturalist trip in 1847-1848 in Algeria, Tunisia, Upper Egypt, eastern Sudan and Ethiopia; Leaving Alexandria, he sailed up the Nile to Nubia and brought back many drawings. He left in 1853 for a second trip to North Africa and the Mediterranean (Libya, Egypt, Asia Minor, Tunisia, Syria and Greece), from where he brought back this time a precious set of superb photographs, taken on the spot using pioneering techniques for the time, as well as a fascinating travelogue and an interesting collection of natural history.

For this work devoted to the architectural history of Asia Minor and Africa and published in 3 parts over several years (1847-1862), Trémaux drew inspiration from his daguerreotypes, his own sketches and calotypes by the suite to compose the lithographic illustrations. Subsequent issues of his Voyage au Sudan Oriental et dans l’Africa Nord, from 1847 to 1854, contained prints mounted on salted paper which, poorly preserved, had to be replaced by lithographic reproductions.—rough translation from the listing by Pastaud Maison de Ventes aux Enchères

Complete images: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10101719c.image

“These luxe publications, produced with the support of the French government, exploit an array of graphic techniques; they combine salted paper prints, engravings, tinted and colour lithographs, photolithographs, and texts in ways never previously attempted. Their examination provides insights into the ways these media interacted, and how comfortably photography in fact sat amongst its predecessors within the long-established context of the travel narrative.” –https://doi.org/10.1080/17540763.2017.1399287

Like many pictorial albums, few historians take the time to read Trémaux’s texts but are content to study and enjoy his images. Recently, some scholars have begun to evaluate his racist views on the populations he documented in Africa and later described in Origine et transformations de l’homme et des autres êtres (1865). For a discussion of Trémaux and Darwin, see: Wilkins, John S. and Nelson, Gareth J., “Trémaux on Species: A theory of allopatric speciation (and punctuated equilibrium) before Wagner”, Archives of Philosophy of the Science, University of Pittsburgh, 2008; texte repris dans la revue History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 2008, 30, pp 179-206.

 

 

This acquisition lives in the Graphic Arts Collection but was made with sincere thanks to Deborah Schlein, Near Eastern Studies Librarian; Alain St. Pierre, Librarian for History, History of Science and African Studies; Holly Hatheway, Head Librarian, and Nicola Shilliam, Western Bibliographer for Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology; and Patty Gaspari-Bridges, Assistant University Librarian for Collection Development.

Expedition to the Dead Sea, Petra, and the Left Bank of the Jordan

Honore Theodore Paul Joseph D’Albert Duc de Luynes (1802-1867), Voyage d’exploration à la Mer Morte, à Petra, et sur la Rive Gauche du Jourdain [= Expedition to the Dead Sea, Petra, and the Left Bank of the Jordan] (Paris: Arthus Bertrand, n.d. [ca.1868-74]). Graphic Arts Off-Site Storage RECAP-33945831

 

Alphonse Poitevin (1819-1882) won both of the 1856 photographic competitions sponsored by the Société françoise de photographie to discover a way (in short) to stop photographic prints from fading. Poitevin’s prize money was donated by Honoré d’Albert duc de Luynes (1802-1867) but when the Duke needed someone to print the photographs from his 1864 expedition to the Dead Sea basin and interior of Jordan, he passed on Poitevin and chose Charles Nègre (1820-1880).

An amateur archaeologist, Luynes organized the expedition to examine the region’s ancient ruins and perform geological and scientific observations. He took with him scientists, historians, and Lieutenant Louis Vignes (1831-1896), who served as the expedition’s photographer after receiving extensive training from Nègre. Vignes made both paper and glass plate negatives, which were carefully transported back to Paris and printed in ink as photogravures for the atlas documenting the expedition. Voyage d’Exploration a la Mer Morte à Petra et sur la Rive Gauche du Jourdain.

“Nègre was to complete the work by January 1868 for the sum of 23,250 francs. The photographs, made by the Duke’s second in command, Lieutenant L. Vignes, are for the most part rather contrasty and lacking in detail in the shadow areas. It is remarkable how Nègre was able to open up the shadows and fill them with light, detail and space. But undoubtedly the main reason the Duke chose Nègre to perform this task lay in the quality of the prints Nègre was capable of producing. Quite possibly de Luynes had expected the artist to win the prize of the Société Francaise competition, for he had achieved a control over his process which resulted in prints of rich tones, fine detail, transparency and effect.” – Borcoman, Charles Negre, pp. 45-46 and plates 199 and 200.

Together with three volumes of text, the atlas volume presents 64 of the Nègre photogravures; plus 18 lithographs, 2 maps, and 1 chart. Rachel Stuhlman, George Eastman House, writes that Nègre produced “printing plates capable of reproducing the entire gradation of tones, from the white of the paper to the strongest black…” and that he “…transformed the dull photographs into evocative images of great poetry.”

 

Contents: t. 1. Relation du voyage.–t. 2. De Petra à Palmyre, par m. Vignes.–Voyage de Jérusalem à Karak et à Chaubak, par mm. Mauss et Sauvaire.–t. 3 Géologie, par m. L. Lartet.–Atlas.

Edward George Mevs, Photographer in Haiti



Born in New York City on October 18,1866, Edward George Mevs was registered as an American citizen while in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1877. The purpose of his visit is listed as business although he was 11 years old. There is no information about his father’s occupation.

Back in New York in 1893, now 26-year-old Mevs applied for a passport to travel to Port-au-Prince as a photographer, promising to return in two years. A second application was completed in 1895 when the two years ran out.

Mevs continued to travel between the two cities throughout his life, the last recorded trip at the age of 63 in 1930. We know he was 5’ 11’’ with brown hair and a fair complexion, although his nationality is listed as American, Haitian, and West Indian on various documents.

Mevs is the one photographer’s name that has been found in a small volume labeled Illustrated Souvenir Album of Haiti, Comprising the Leading Business Houses and Views of The Republic (Toronto: S. McCoy, 1895). Each recto has a cyanotype, most illustrating a Haitian business with text identifying the company on the opposite page. Several prints are further described in a written caption.

 

 

This is a curious album printed by A. S. Barham in Kingston, Jamaica, and published by S. McCoy from Toronto. Included are drugstores, hotels, banks, import/export merchants, suppliers of French goods, drugstores, coffee exporters, hardware stores, lumber mills, opticians, printers, a cooper, and an ice factory with diverse locations such as Port-au-Prince, Gonaïves, Cap Haitien and Jacmel.

It is not unusual for a photographer to use cyanotypes in this period, which is a relatively inexpensive process. Also called Blueprints, the image is made by painting iron salts on paper or cloth and then exposing the material to sunlight through a photographic negative. Long term, the image is susceptible to fading when given too much light exposure, but it is also surprisingly resilient, as the image may return when left in the dark.

 

 

Inspired by a Dictionary

Perhaps it was an odd match to cast Mel Gibson [below] as Sir James Augustus Henry Murray [above]  (1837-1915), editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his death, and Sean Penn as William Chester Minor (1834-1920), one of the OED’s major contributors. They star in the film adaptation of Simon Winchester’s 1998 book The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (also called The Surgeon of Crowthorne) chronicling Minor’s relationship with Murray, while confined in the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.

 

After years of delay, the film is streaming on Kanopy: https://princetonlibrary.kanopy.com/video/professor-and-madman

Work on the OED began in 1857 and unbound fascicles were published from 1884 forward under the title A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009038919.  In 1899 alone, Minor provided 12,000 quotations for the OED. The project was expected to take ten years to complete and be some 7,000 pages long, in four volumes. In fact, when the final results were published in 1928, it ran to twelve volumes, with 414,825 words defined and 1,827,306 citations employed to illustrate their meanings.

 

Among the other work inspired and produced thanks to the OED are the animations of William Kentridge, who took over the video screens of Times Square in December 2019 with “To What End?” for that month’s Midnight Moment.

Animations projected on dictionary pages continued work he began with “Second-Hand Reading” (2013) and the book Second-Hand Reading (2014) in the Graphic Arts Collection: recap RCPXG-8786663:

 
In 1994, the Cuban American photographer Abelardo Morell created a series around the dictionary, including Six Dictionaries, 1994 and Dictionary, 1994. Morell was a 2006 Visiting Professor in the Humanities Council and Class of 1932 Fellow in Visual Arts.

Abelardo Morell, Six Dictionaries, 1994.

Abelardo Morell, Dictionary, 1994

Lake of Darkness


Karen Fitzgerald, Lake of Darkness: Twelve Photogravure Etchings with Five Poems by Czeslaw Milosz ([New York]: Karen Fitzgerald, 1996). Copy 10 of 12. Gift of the Kohler Foundation. Graphic Arts Collection 2020- in process

Abstract:, “Lake of Darkness was created as a response to Czeslaw Milosz’s poetry and what it means to be in the earth, to be embedded within the landscape. The structure of Milosz’s poetry has a deep resonance for me. He evokes the individual, specific, and granular experience of being of the earth. His work also connects historical aspects of this sense with the physical experience of consciousness. When he labels the earth a ‘lake of darkness’ for creatures who are not winged—the ones that can lift themselves out and above—he offers a landscape that has meaning for all of us. Milosz’s poetry offers a transformational language that I have brought into visual form. The natural world beckons to all of us if we slow down, listen, look, recall. The details emerge slowly and delicately, like the smell of linen drying on a clothesline. This project is a way of bringing that hyperawareness forward as a kind of re-knowing. The world is, after all, a Lake of Light. The darkness serves to make the light more defined, even more exceptional.”–Artist’s statement (https://fitzgeraldart.com/lakeofdarkness/)

“12 photogravure etchings printed by the artist on Somerset textured white, 300 grams, in an edition of 12 impressions plus 3 artist’s proofs. Plates by Lothar Osterberg, New York. Type was set in Centaur printed letterpress son Somerset textured white, 300 grams, by Leslie Miller at The Grenfell Press, New York. Tray case was made by Claudia Cohen, bookbinder, Easthampton, Massachusetts.”–Colophon.

 

Five poems by Czeslaw Milosz: The bird kingdom ; On prayer ; It was winter ; On angels ; An appeal.

It was winter (a selection)
Winter came as it does in this valley.
After eight dry months rain fell
And the mountains, straw-colored, turned green for a while.
In the canyons where gray laurels
Graft their stony roots to granite,
Streams must have filled the dried-up creek beds.
Ocean winds churned the eucalyptus trees,
And under clouds torn by a crystal of towers
Prickly lights were glowing on the docks.

This is not a place where you sit under a café awning
On a marble piazza, watching the crowd,
Or play the flute at a window over a narrow street
While children’s sandals clatter in the vaulted entryway.