Paul Kasmin Gallery, in cooperation with Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photographs, is pleased to announce Drawing with Light: Paper Negatives, 1842-1864. Including works by pioneering photographers William Henry Fox Talbot, Chares Nègre, Dr. John Murray, Frédéric Flachéron and Louis-Rémy Robert, the exhibition will provide a rare glimpse into the early history of photography. It will be on view from March 3rd to April 2nd at Paul Kasmin’s 511 W. 27th Street space.
Discovered in 1840, Talbot’s calotype process created negative images on paper sensitized with silver salts. Because these negatives captured light directly, Talbot prized them above all else for their great fidelity to nature. Moreover, unlike the daguerreotype, which produced only one image, multiple prints could be made from a single paper negative. As one 19th century commentator noted, paper negatives produced prints that were “richer, softer, more aerial, and deeper, in short, more artistic” than those made on metal or from glass negatives. Drawing with Light will present rarely exhibited pairs of negatives and prints, as well as hand-painted and retouched negatives that evidence the emerging process of making images.
Taken throughout Europe and in India and Tibet, these photographs adhere to that century’s aesthetic preference for scenes of antiquity, and range from portraits and rustic landscapes to architectural studies of ruins and bird’s-eye views of foreign skylines. Not merely technological predecessors to later photographic processes, the composition and framing of these paper negatives are highlighted by their striking reverse tonality, making them dramatic and beautiful objects in their own right.