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Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Bridge-Sunlight 1906

Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Bridge-Sunlight 1906

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Alvin Langdon Coburn

The Bridge-Sunlight, 1906

Camera Work XV

Photogravure, 19.7 x 15.8 cm

Only two contributors to Camera Work executed their own photogravures, James Craig Annan and Alvin Langdon Coburn. 

Looking for beauty in unlikely surroundings, Coburn would wait all day, revisiting the same spot for several days, to find that perfect consummation of light, self-expression and mood, and was happier photographing in London fog, which required ten minutes exposure at noon, than sunshine. In the case of his London Bridge (Bridge Sunlight) image, he claimed, "I worked nearly a year to get that London Bridge... in the [1905 London] Salon. Reviews agreed: "His one view of London Bridge which was singled out as the most notable architectural study of the last year's exhibition season had an exposure of nearly a year... he was working on the bridge, studying it and making picture after picture until... eventually he obtained a position (on the top-most floor of one of the great riverside warehouses) and waited for the lighting which gave him exactly the picture he required." His London pictures are obviously and startlingly recognizably London, but taken from a viewpoint that few others had seen. Roberts p. 27

According to the British writer, George Bernard Shaw: "This collection of photographs of London has been in preparation by Mr. Coburn for the past five years, but technically they represent the latest development of his art. Recognizing... that in photogravure he has now, as the impressions in this volume show, produce prints comparable to his finest achievements in gum-platinotype, but reproduce them with a certainty at a cost which makes such a publication as the present possible." 

In 1902, Alvin Langdon Coburn became a member of Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Session movement. In 1903, Coburn joined the British group, the Linked Ring. Fascinated by spirituality, mysticism and ritual, he came to be influenced by the Symbolist movement – especially the paintings of James McNeil Whistler – and began work on a series of atmospheric views of London. A handful of Coburn’s numerous photographs of London first appeared in a 1906 issue of Camera Work before being catalogued and compiled in his book, London, 1909.

Roberts, Pamela Glasson Coburn Alvin Langdon Pamela Glasson Roberts Fundación Mapfre and George Eastman House. 2014. Alvin Langdon Coburn. Madrid: Fundación Mapfre.

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