Paris Photo 2012 – Platinum Print Highlights

November 28, 2012

For the last 4 years I have posted a photographic record of the highlights of Paris Photo on our sister blog which covers more general alternative photographic processes. This year I have decided to split the posts up and devote this one to just platinum/palladium prints.

What I love about Paris Photo is its possible to get up close to some of the most iconic prints ever created. There is usually a good showing of prints by Irving Penn and this year was no different. One of my favorite platinum prints of his is of Picasso as it is a perfect example of great platinum/palladium print, deep velvety blacks, excellent shadow detail with beautiful mid and highlight values.

When talking about this particular image to Sarah Greenough in her book on Penn he is quoted as saying : ‘A great presence, deeply aware of his own image, he peered silently at the reflection of his head in the camera’s lens, occasionally altering the attitude.’

Two years ago a similar print sold for $180,000, the Phillips de Pury auction house noted  in ‘Pablo Picasso at La Californie, Cannes, Penn stripped away not only any gratuitous props but also any bodily references or gestures that could have compromised the unique individuality of the famed Spanish artist, by then already established as one of the art world’s most luminary .The close-up portrait is skilfully and almost perfectly centered by Picasso’s cyclopean eye, paying homage to the Cubist style that he was instrumental in popularizing. References to the style, in fact, abound in the photograph: the strong tonal contrasts, the cape slicing the face at an unconventional angle, the abstraction of the ear, the different lines dissecting the plain; the portrait is far more akin to Picasso’s gris-toned Buste de Femme, 1956, than any of Penn’s other portraits. It becomes more of a probable self-visualization by Picasso rather than a regimented projection by the photographer of how a portrait should be. Ultimately, Pablo Picasso at La Californie, Cannes, is a carefully nuanced souvenir commemorating the legacy of not one, but two great masters, both delicately revealing themselves through different sides of the same lens.

There is a great deal of detail in the print as is shown below, you can even see Penn’s daylight studio in the reflection of Picasso’s eye.

Pablo Picasso at La Californie, Cannes (Detail 1), Irving Penn, Platinum/Palladium Print,1957

Pablo Picasso at La Californie,  Cannes (Detail 2), Irving Penn, Platinum/Palladium Print,1957

I have drawn much inspiration from this particular Penn print for quite some time and applied it to a platinum/palladium print of Kate Moss I created for the photographer Rankin, which as it happens has a similar tonal value and composition to the above. I wanted to make it different from the original silver print version and opened up the mid and high values. The 20×24 inch Kate Moss platinum/palladium print was scanned and is reproduced in the latest issue of the International Journal of Contemporary Photography which can be viewed here and is also shown below.

Hat Kate, Rankin, Platinum/Palladium Print, 2005

Another favorite of mine is ‘Women with Roses’  which pictures Irving Penn’s wife Lisa Fonsergrevees, this was showing at the Robert Koch stand. Just such a beautful composition and again printed masterfully.

Women with Roses, Irving Penn, Platinum/Palladium Print, 1950

Women with Roses (Detail), Irving Penn, Platinum/Palladium Print, 1950

Pace/MacGill had some single layer platinum/palladium  prints from the well known street material series Penn photographed in the 1970’s, they were quite small at 10×8 inches when compared to the his mulitlayer prints of similar subjects. There is a three-dimensional, holographic depth to the prints as well as pin sharp detail.

Street Material Series, Irving Penn, Platinum/Palladium, 1975

Pagoda (Detail), New York, Irving Penn, Platinum/Palladium Print,1975

There was a good selection of platinum prints by Jan Groover on show, a wonderful photographer and printer who sadly died this year. You can read more about her here

Untitled, Jan Groover, platinum/palladium print,1983

For the first time William Klein had some of his most iconic images printed in platinum/palladium and were on show at the Howard Greenburg stand. They formed a series of 9 prints avalaible as a box set which by the sound of things had sold well.   These were printed by Martin Axon I really enjoyed viewing these prints as they had a beautiful range of rich tones to them.

Rome, ‘Vogue’, Painting + Coffee, William Klien, 1960, Platinum/Palladium Print

Rome, ‘Vogue’, Painting + Coffee (detail), William Klien, 1960, Platinum/Palladium Print

Piazza di Spagna, Rome,William Klein.Platinum Palladium Print, 1960

Well those were my highlights from the show in terms of platinum prints, it really was excellent this year and well worth going,  visit our other blog for a more general review of prints on display and which will be uploaded in a week or so.

2 Responses to “Paris Photo 2012 – Platinum Print Highlights”

  1. Martin Axon Says:

    Thanks for posting the William Klein images. For those interested they are printed on Arches Platine.

  2. David Chow Says:

    Hi Martin, The prints looked really good, well done. Can i ask you what it was like working with William on that particular suite of platinum prints.

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