Platinum Print Beginnings
March 4, 2012
It seems appropriate for the first entry of this new blog to talk about how I became interested in the fine art of platinum printing.
The initial spark for me came some eight years when I viewed a collection of platinum prints in an original print photo-book. The book entitled Sally Mann (2004) was created and published by 21st Editions, a small publisher and printing press based in Massachusetts, it contained 10 bound platinum prints that were simply breathtaking, both from an aesthetic and technical point of view. They depicted the artist’s graceful figure and drapery studies that were taken in 1978, preceding the Immediate Family (1992) series of images that the artist is perhaps best known for. Paired alongside the images were haiku-like poems printed in beautiful letterpress and written by Mann herself. It was the first time I had viewed a platinum print, and I was astonished by the subtle yet powerful quality of such prints, radiating gentle warmth with delicate high tones and rich details in the shadows. They indeed had an almost three-dimensional quality to them. Viewing the book was visual revalation and indeed changed the nature and course of the next 8 years of my life. The book really illustrated the strengths of the platinum printing process and to finally own a copy of this book is a real privilege, it inspires me everytime I view it.
Below shows a few photos of the book (Click for full size versions)
Sally Mann’s photographs are ostensibly studies of form and texture, illustrated with draped cloth, both hanging and pressed against human figures. But her eye is so incredibly insightful as to elicit self-reflection. In the New York Times, Andy Grundberg observed that her images “suggest that the camera is as adept at depicting the desires of the subconscious as it is in rendering the shapes of everyday life”. Her photographic work is presented here in concert with her original poetry, and they combine to serve a larger concept where the method of production, the shimmering platinum print, is a key element.
From the Publisher: “Sally Mann brings together many of the most graceful and sensuous early figure and drapery studies created by this internationally acclaimed artist. This Platinum Series volume is a true livre d’artiste. The introduction as well as the accompanying poems were written by the artist herself. Each signed and numbered copy of Sally Mann is hand-bound, printed in letterpress on handmade cotton rag paper, and delivered in a unique case created to complement the exquisite binding.”
This gorgeous handmade volume features paper-covered boards, stamped with the title in silver. There is no dust jacket, as issued. It fits into raw silk covered clamshell box, to which a title card matching to book is affixed. It is edited by John Wood and features letterpress printing by Michael Russem and hand-binding by Sarah Creighton. The hand-coated platinum prints are produced by Stan Klimek. Each of the bound 10 platinum prints are SIGNED on the border. The free-standing PRINT measures 9 7/8 x 7 3/8 inches on paper measuring 13 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches. It is also signed in pencil and is accompanied by a poem. The last page of the book, too, is signed by Sally Mann. It measures 14 x 12 inches.
21st Editions- www.21stphotography.com
Stan Klimek – http://www.stanklimekstudio.com/