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Edward Steichen, The Flatiron, New York 1905

Edward Steichen, The Flatiron, New York 1905

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The Flatiron, New York 1905 
Sheet Size: 20 x 16 inches
Image Size: 12 7/8 x 10 1/4 inches

Hand pulled dust-grain photogravure from Edward Steichen: The Early Years

 "The Flatiron" is the quintessential chromatic study of twilight. Clearly indebted in its composition to the Japanese woodcuts that were in vogue at the turn of the century and in its coloristic effect to the "Nocturnes" of Whistler, this picture is a prime example of the conscious effort of photographers in the circle of Alfred Stieglitz to assert the artistic potential of their medium. (The Met)

Steichen and Stieglitz selected this photograph for inclusion in the "International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography" held at the Albright Art Gallery (now the Albright-Knox Art Gallery) in Buffalo, New York, in 1910. The exhibition of six hundred photographs represented the capstone of Stieglitz's efforts to promote Pictorialist photography as a fine art.

“Edward Steichen is an immortal among photographers. During the seven decades of his career, he advanced photography as an art form as well as a vital medium of visual communication. His richest, most profound photographs were made between 1900 and 1927. It is from this period that in 1969 he selected 12 masterpieces and, for his final photographic project, asked Aperture’s Michael Hoffman to attempt at that time what appeared to be impossible: publication of his prints as hand-pulled photogravures.”

Like his close colleague Alfred Stieglitz, Steichen understood the potential of photogravure and considered photogravure prints to be original works of art, in many cases the most faithful realization of the photographer’s intention.  It is no wonder then that he chose photogravure for his last great work.

In the 70’s, Jon Goodman, already working to revive the photogravure process, teamed up with Richard Benson and Hoffman in an attempt to execute the exacting plates.  The painstaking task of printing the plates was accomplished, under Jon’s supervision, at the atelier de Taille Douce, Saint-Prex, Switzerland. Twelve years later, the portfolio was finished.


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