PHOTOBOOK REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS AND WRITE-UPS
ALONG WITH THE LATEST PHOTO-EYE NEWS

Social Media


photo-eye Gallery 2019 Group Show
Opening Friday, February 22nd, 5–7pm
photo-eye Gallery's 2019 Group Show features a diverse collection of contemporary photographic work created by select represented artists. The exhibition highlights new work from Julie Blackmon, Michael Kenna, James Pitts and Mitch Dobrowner alongside works previously unexhibited at photo-eye by Kate Breakey and Beth Moon.



Announcing
2019 Group Show
On View: February 22 - April 20, 2019
Opening: Friday, February 22nd, 5–7pm

photo-eye Gallery
541 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, NM, 87501
– View Map –


photo-eye Gallery's 2019 Group Show features a diverse collection of contemporary photographic work created by select represented artists. The exhibition highlights new work from Julie Blackmon, Michael Kenna, James Pitts and Mitch Dobrowner alongside works previously unexhibited at photo-eye by Kate Breakey and Beth Moon.

The 2019 Group Show opens Friday, February 22nd from 5–7pm during the Last Friday Art Walk in Santa Fe's Railyard Arts District.

Included Artists: 


Exhibition Preview – Selected Works from the Upcoming 2019 Group Show


Julie Blackmon

Julie Blackmon, Fixer Upper, 2018,
Archival Pigment Print, 22x29" Image,
Edition of 10, $4000
Fixer Upper is the latest work in Blackmon's ongoing series of wry and satirical images commenting on American life in the 21st Century. Lately, Blackmon's work examines social and economic trends, as well as political ideology, through the domestic lens of home and family. Based in Springfield Missouri, Blackmon uses her immediate surroundings and extended family as inspiration for her imagery, often photographing on location in her hometown and employing friends and family members as models in her complex and intricately composed tableaux.


» View Julie Blackmon's Latest Works
» Books Available by Julie Blackmon


Mitch Dobrowner

Mitch Dobrowner, Fly Geyser, 2018
Archival Pigment Print, 20x30" Image
 Edition of 25, $2500
Mitch Dobrowner's Fly Geyser is the most recent addition to the artist's continuing series of Western landscapes and landmarks. Captured using the artist's signature hand-modified DSLR with a long exposure, Fly Geyser is photographed with the reverence, awe, and humility we've come to expect from Dobrowner's landscapes. The image truly evokes a sense of natural wonder.

» Read More about Fly Geyser
» View Work by Mitch Dobrowner
» Books by Mitch Dobrowner



Thomas Jackson

Thomas Jackson, Straws no. 4, Mono Lake, California, 2015
Archival Pigment Print 30x38" Image
Edition of 5, $4000

Straws no. 4 is one of many playful installation-based images by Thomas Jackson from his series Emergent Behavior.

"The hovering installations featured in this ongoing series of photographs are inspired by self-organizing, 'emergent' systems in nature such as termite mounds, swarming locusts, schooling fish and flocking birds. The images attempt to tap the mixture of fear and fascination that those phenomena tend to evoke, while creating an uneasy interplay between the natural and the manufactured and the real and the imaginary." – Thomas Jackson

» View the Emergent Behavior Series


Michael Kenna

Michael Kenna, Mina, Study 3, Japan, 2011
Gelatin-Silver Print 8x8" Image
Edition of 25, $3000

Ten years ago, after a particularly tumultuous period in his life, Michael Kenna quietly made a decision to expand his photographic practice to include the human form. Kenna is well known for his minimalistic landscapes, and has been vocal in the past about the absence of the human figure in his photographs stating, "I feel they gave away the scale and became the main focus of the viewer’s attention." But, believing "fixed dogma is not a creative tool," Kenna has created Rafu, a series of female nude portraits made in Japan, highlighting form, uniqueness, and the interplay between the body and human-constructed environments. We are proud to feature six images from Rafu in the 2019 Group Show.

» Read Zoé Balthus' in-depth interview with  
   Michael Kenna about Rafu
» View the monograph published by Nazraeli
» See Additional work by Michael Kenna 

Clay Lipsky

Clay Lipsky, Atomic Overlook: 02, 2012
Archival Pigment Print, 16x16" Image
Edition of 10, $1000
Clay Lipsky's Atomic Overlook re-contextualizes a legacy of atomic bomb tests. In an attempt to keep a nuclear threat feeling contemporary and omnipresent, Lipsky introduces archival images of atomic explosions among casual scenes of vacationers. He imagines an era where tourists gather to view bomb tests from "safe" distances. The surreal images speak to a voyeuristic culture where catastrophe is viewed as entertainment by increasingly desensitized masses.

» View additional work from Clay Lipsky's 
   Atomic Outlook series

» Purchase the Atomic Outlook book




James Pitts

James Pitts, Dried Gourd Leaves Diptych, 2018
Archival Pigment Print, 11x17" Image
Edition of 5, $650


Santa Fe based photographer James W. Pitts' primary focus for over 20 years has been on hand coating platinum prints from large format negatives. Pitts’ is debuting three new archival pigment ink still life images of gourds in the 2019 photo-eye Group Show. He explores the still life genera further, adding subtle color images to his vocabulary. Pitts credits a number of master painters as influences including Matisse. The new diptych (featured left) is part of an ongoing series which Pitts collects various plant life, the gourd in the image to the left is from his personal garden, with a backdrop that nods to Pollock. The results of these captures with his large format camera are classic, timeless photographic works of art
» View Additional Work by James Pitts

» Read our interview with Jim Pitts




Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson, Black Leopard #2, Monterey, CA, 2014,
 Archival Pigment Print, 28x23" Image
Edition of 5, $1500
Black Leopard #2, Monterey, CA, is the signature image from Brad Wilson's 2017 solo exhibition at photo-eye Gallery, and one of our favorites from his Affinity series. In Affinity, Brad Wilson works with sanctuaries, trainers, and preservation institutions to create strikingly detailed animal portraits challenging viewers to connect on a deeper level with the subject.

» View Affinity by Brad Wilson

» Purchase a copy of Wilson's book Wild Life

» Read our Interview with Brad Wilson


Reuben Wu

Reuben Wu, LN 0309
Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image
Edition of 5, $950

After his first appearance as a represented artist with photo-eye Gallery at Photo LA earlier this month, Reuben Wu is making his Santa Fe debut in the 2019 group show with LN 0309  from his Lux Noctis series. Lux Noctis is a series of photographs depicting landscapes unbound by time and space, inspired by ideas of planetary exploration, 19th-century sublime romantic painting, and science fiction.

» View Lux Noctis by Reuben Wu

» Read Anne Kelly's interview with
   Reuben Wu


Beth Moon

Beth Moon, Nepenthes Bicalcarata
Platinum/Palladium Print, 12x8" Image
Edition of 15, $1200
photo-eye is also honored to include six prints from Beth Moon's gorgeous Savage Garden series, installed for their exhibition premier. Printed in rich platinum/palladium, these intricate and formal portraits depict the delicate but dangerous nature of carnivorous plants.

"The poetic sensibility of nature seems to hover somewhere between paradise and tragedy. In these flesh-eating plants, we find a sinister beauty. Evolution has taught these carnivorous plants how to make the best of the conditions they grow in, honoring the darker more mysterious side of nature."

– Beth Moon


» Read Anne Kelly's interview with Beth Moon



• • • • •

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints,  please contact Gallery Staff at 

photo-eye Bookstore + Project Space Opening Friday, February 22nd
Nathan Benn: A Peculiar Paradise
photo-eye Bookstore’s Project Space is thrilled to announce A Peculiar Paradise, a solo exhibition of color images by Nathan Benn. Using Kodak’s vivid Kodachrome film during his tenure with National Geographic, Nathan Benn details the rapid change and eccentricities present in the state of Florida during the 1980s.



Announcing

A Peculiar Paradise: Photographs by Nathan Benn

On View: February 22 - April 20, 2019
Opening Reception and Book Signing: Friday, February 22nd, 5–7pm

photo-eye Bookstore + Project Space
1300 Rufina Circle, Suite A3, Santa Fe, NM 87507



ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Nathan Benn, Space Tourists, 1981, 
Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, 
Edition of 15, $2800
photo-eye Bookstore’s Project Space is thrilled to announce A Peculiar Paradise, a solo exhibition of color images by Nathan Benn. Using Kodak’s vivid Kodachrome film during his tenure with National Geographic, Nathan Benn details the rapid change and eccentricities present in the state of Florida during the 1980s. The exhibition corresponds with Benn’s monograph of the same title published in November 2018 by powerHouse Books. A Peculiar Paradise: Photographs by Nathan Benn opens Friday, February 22, 2019, and will remain on view through April 20, 2019. An Opening Reception and Book Signing will be held Friday, February 22 from 5–7 pm.


ABOUT THE ARTWORK
A Peculiar Paradise by Nathan Benn shows its subject—Benn’s homestate—at the dawn of the 1980s, during a time when Florida’s only true constant was change. Although some regions rested like the state’s alligators, staid and satisfied, other areas became a hotbed for the narcotics trade and a hub for Caribbean and South American immigration. This increasing cultural diversity (Miami’s English-speaking Caucasian population was in free fall, from 84% in 1950 to just 12% by 1990), and the state’s innate peculiarity is captured here with the keen sense of an anthropologist and the glint-in-the-eye of a local.

The pictures, fittingly, sometimes feel urgent, sometimes leisurely. Kodachrome film's distinctive color palette seems tailor-made to its purpose here, displayed to full effect with expressive composition and sumptuous texture. Benn's vibrant, idiosyncratic images reflect the charming, sometimes dangerous, chaos of Florida at the time, a place that came to embody both the quintessence of suburban Americana and the depth of the melting pot, and the source of Benn's own nostalgic longing.
– powerHouse Books

"With a uniquely American mix of formality and ease, and a color palette so tart you can almost taste it, Benn makes the past vividly — even painfully — present."

— VINCE ALETTI, PHOTOGRAPHY CRITIC, THE NEW YORKER 


Nathan Benn, Spaceship Earth, 1981, Archival Pigment Print, 15x21" Image, Edition of 15, $2800

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Nathan Benn was born and grew up in Miami, Florida. Immediately upon graduation from the University of Miami in 1972, he became a photographer for the National Geographic Society, where he remained for twenty years. Three hundred of his photographs were published in National Geographic magazine and hundreds more in numerous books. He was the Director of Magnum Photos, Inc. from 2000 through 2002. In 2013 powerHouse Books published his award-winning monograph Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Brooklyn, New York with his wife–a fine art photographer–and teenage son.


All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints,  please contact Bookstore + Project Space Staff at 

photo-eye Gallery Tom Chambers: Hearts and Bones
Closing Saturday, February 16
Tom Chambers' expansive mid-career retrospective comes to a close this Saturday, Feb 16. Also debuting Wintry Beacon a new image in the Tales of Heroines series.

Tom Chambers, Wintry Beacon, 2019, Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950

"Tom Chambers transforms the everyday into the mythical. His hyperreal images depict much more than a moment in time. Rather they show something far less tangible…perhaps a memory, feeling or dream…allowing the viewer to make a personal connection."
– Anne Kelly, Gallery Director
From 'Praise for Tom Chambers' Hearts and Bones'

Hearts and Bones
photographs by Tom Chambers
Signed Hardbound – $45.00
Charming, whimsical, and enigmatic, Tom Chambers' stirring photomontages have captivated collector's for more than 25 years. In that time, Chambers' vignettes have consistently and convincingly blended fantastical elements with the everyday to tell stories about the human condition–fragility, ritual, perseverance and trust. Hearts and Bones has been a very special exhibition for us at photo-eye Gallery. Not only is it a mid-career retrospective for Chambers, but it represents over a decade of his relationship with photo-eye as a represented artist, and carries the feeling of celebrating a milestone birthday with a family member. Punctuating the exhibition was the release of Tom's exquisite new monograph, published by Unicorn, including an introduction by former photo-eye Gallery Director Elizabeth Avedon. In fact, Avedon, and then Gallery Assistant Anne Kelly, both organized Chambers' first exhibition at photo-eye Gallery back in 2007.  It has been a delight to witness the progression of Tom's work here in the gallery these months, including the debut of his newest series Tales of Heroines.
Tom Chambers' Tales of Heroines
installed at Photo LA 2019 (left)

To cap the exhibition, Chambers is debuting a new image in the Tales of Heroines series, Wintry Beacon (above).  The snowy background image was photographed by Chambers up on the hill above Santa Fe at the Native American and Folk Art museums.

Tom Chambers: Hearts and Bones closes this Saturday, February 16th. If you haven't already, we invite you to stop by the gallery or visit the online portfolio, to view this comprehensive collection of Chambers' photomontage artwork.







• • • • •

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints,  please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com

Tom Chambers, Moat Float, 2018, 
Archival Pigment Print, 28x29" Image, Edition of 10, $2300
Tom Chambers:
Hearts and Bones
Closing Saturday, February 16th, 2019

» View Work by Tom Chambers

» Read More about Tom Chambers

» Photo LA 2019, including Tom Chambers


photo-eye Gallery
541 S. Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
505-988-5152 x202
– VIEW MAP –






Book Of The Week Maine Photographs by Gary Briechle Reviewed by Blake Andrews Gary Briechle has forged many long-term relationships with the people he has photographed since moving to Maine nearly 20 years ago. This gives his work a peculiar intimacy, as if the pictures were made by a family member. He lives and works in midcoast Maine and doesn’t see a need to travel to make photographs.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=TT184
Maine. By Gary Briechle.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=TT184
Maine
Photographs by Gary Briechle

Twin Palms, Santa Fe, USA, 2018.
124 pp., 63 full-color plates, 8x10".

A funny thing happened on the way to reviewing Gary Briechle's Maine (Twin Palms, 2018). After removing the book from its packaging and giving it a quick once-over, I set it on top of my reading pile near the piano. That's where my wife found it. Tab spent her first 18 years in western Maine and considers herself something of an authority on the subject. When she noticed a new photo book called Maine in the house it was irresistible.

Over dinner that evening Tab described to me her initial shock. Briechle's book was most definitely not the Maine she expected to see. There was nary a sailboat in it. Nor any black labs prancing on lawns. No quaint harbors, lighthouses, lobster pots, or fall foliage. In fact, all the LL Bean scenes seemed to be missing completely. In their stead was a seedy underworld of vice, mobile homes, and things that sagged. The mood throughout was downbeat. The tone was set by the cover shot of a dark figure retreating into an icy patch, and the opening pages offered no letup. First came a grimy snowbank piled with debris, then a closeup of old cigarette stubs. And so on. You get the picture. My wife sure did. Somewhat rattled, she put the book back in its place after a few minutes.

The items above describe Maine, of course. Just not the one of popular imagery. But in Gary Briechle's world these things assume primacy. His photo subjects are pulled from his immediate surroundings: friends, family, neighbors, and local events. "Most everything that inspires me is within a few miles of home," he writes on the Twin Palms site. "Sometimes I think that Maine is like my foster family; I'm not really entirely comfortable and will probably never feel completely settled, but Maine keeps feeding me."

The feeding frenzy has been happening for nearly two decades, ever since Briechle resettled in Maine from New Jersey in 2001. Most of his photos since then have employed the wet collodion process, an archaic monochrome practice of long exposures and rushed development. Ghosts and glitches are endemic to the method, and they often imbue a dreamy quality all its own. Such was the style of his wonderful debut book from 2012, Gary Briechle Photographs, also published by Twin Palms. That book was followed in 2015 by a Guggenheim. Judging by what came next, it may have precipitated some artistic restlessness.

Subject-wise, Maine covers similar territory to the debut, but the approach is radically different. Instead of long exposures, Maine catches subjects in the moment, snapshot style, with digital color. Whereas the debut slyly hinted at subversive doings, Maine puts them on full display, sometimes with the help of flash (a near impossibility with wet collodion). There are photos of guns, scabs, butts, tats, needles, debris, cash, filth, malaise, cobwebs, and one beautifully frosted butterknife. While most photographers might bypass such things, Briechle seizes them as narration devices.

The youngster clutching this rainbow icing, who appears a few times in the book along with various other tots, gives the reader pause. Just what lies ahead for these Maine youth? The reader isn't sure but a penny-loafered yacht outing seems improbable.

The mix of innocence and experience is the same concept used to great effect in Larry Clark's Tulsa, both extremes tangled together in a foreboding blend. As we know, Tulsa did not end well. Maine too ends on a sour note, with a grim finishing sequence: a prone smoker, an aging invalid, and a blood-soaked animal. Then the final photo, a grim winter domestic scene. Lobster roll, anyone?


Throughout the book Briechle's desaturated palette is thin and waifish, the flesh drained of life. As with wet collodion —whose orthochromatic sensitivity dramatizes skin tones— this approach heightens certain flaws. Blood vessels, peeling sunburn, and grime are pronounced. And I suppose the many tattoos in the book would be too, if they weren't already so commonplace. The approach is revealing but not quite sinister. "I don't ever set out to take harsh pics," he says in a recent interview. " I like a good belly laugh with my sons as much as anyone. But people actually don't spend the majority of their lives smiling. This is real life."

So it is. Tagging alongside my wife, I've spent a bit of each summer over the past 30 years in backwoods Maine. Physically the state is gorgeous. But Briechle's view strikes me as fairly accurate. Drive inland a few hours from the coast and you're basically in Appalachia, with miles upon miles of steep hills separating homespun hamlets. Pry under the surface of these towns and you'll find Briechle's stern, unsmiling Maine: Debris, cobwebs, rusty trucks, and such. If the conditions are right, on certain days you might see a rainbow over the town. The icing on the cake.

Purchase Book

Read More Book Reviews



Blake Andrews is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at blakeandrews.blogspot.com.


photo-eye Gallery Heart Work:
A Selection of Photographs Capturing Love
photo-eye Gallery Associate Juliane Worthington curates a Valentine's Day collection featuring work by Carla van de Puttelaar and Brad Wilson.


Valentine’s Day is often lost in a sea of pre-written cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and other merchandise schemes that claim to express the abstract idea of love and attraction we feel for those dear to us. The day can end up feeling like pressure to perform or to find the right gift—to say the right words. Over the years I’ve tried to embrace the holiday as an opportunity to pause and be grateful for those who love me and support me through all the joys and pains of my life. Maybe you have someone you share romantic love with, or maybe you come home to the beloved pup you rescued (so he could rescue you right back). Either way, you have love, even it’s the love you have for yourself.

Sometimes when these sorts of holidays come up we focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. Working with art and artists reminds me daily of how blessed we are as a human race that our lives lend themselves to creativity. It’s something we give to ourselves as a gift each time we participate in the perspectives and colorful interpretations of the world around us.

I’d like to share two artists who’ve really impacted me in my short time at the gallery. They remind me how much love is coursing through the veins of our planet.


Carla van de Puttelaar, Rembrandt Series, Archival Pigment Print, 18×12" Image, Edition of 8,  Price Upon Request
In her book Adornments, Carla van de Puttelaar, a Dutch photographer, connects sensual depictions of flowers and trees with the faces and bodies of women. She focuses on the imperfections of the skin of things—the beauty to be seen in the lines and marks of time. The collection of her images are bound together with a recycled paper cover that feels somehow both rough and smooth, like skin. The thick pages are full of deeply colorful, sensual photographs of her subjects in varying stages of life and age. The book is heavy and large—the weight of it encapsulating her appreciation and intrigue with the figures she studies. Van de Puttelaar’s work is a tribute to women—real women with real bodies, who have real reservations about their vulnerability and who they’re allowed to be. This image from her Rembrandt series illustrates the quiet, often hesitant, openness she admires about women. When I think about how I want the women in my life, my daughter especially, to feel loved by me, this is how I imagine it: To be truly seen in all the ways and from all the angles as one would hold up a flower on a warm summer day with awe and appreciation.

Adornments 
Photographs by Carla van de Puttelaar
Fw: Books, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2017
In English. 270 pp., color illustrations, 9¾×13¼×1½"

$71.00 Hardbound

» Purchase

» View More Work by Carla van de Puttelaar




Brad Wilson, Lion #3, Los Angeles, CA, 2010, Archival Pigment Ink, 20×29" Image, Edition of 15, $1500

The second artist whose work has brought tears to my eyes at times is Brad Wilson. The animals Wilson photographs are inhabitants of various sanctuaries who house these precious, endangered lives and redirect them into a close relationship with mankind. Wilson uses a portrait style format, getting so close that the reflection of him working can often be seen in their eyes. The result is a very intimate encounter with these creatures we long to know and be close to. What I love about Wilson’s work is how he can portray this lion, dangerous and unpredictable by design, as capable of great feeling and emotion. The lion has symbolized man for ages; as our country and culture strives towards redefining how strong, good men should behave toward the world around us, it’s important we allow for a bit of wild and untamed nature. While we cannot tolerate predatory behavior, we need to allow our boys and men to roar. It’s the balance and bay of masculine and feminine energy that makes our world so beautiful. I see in the wild eyes of Wilson’s lion a bit of sadness, of longing for understanding and respect—wanting to be seen and loved in all his power and might, and not feared. I give my boys, now 11 and 15, the space to be both gentle and strong for me and with me. As a single mom, they guard me like a lion and also look to me when they’re broken and sad like the cub who will always live inside them. This portrait of Wilson’s lion reminds me I both need to respect the strength of the men in my life, and know when to sink my hands into their hair, look in their eyes and assure them of that same strength.

Wild Life 
Photographs by Brad Wilson
Prestel, Lakewood, 2014
184 pp., illustrated throughout, 10×11¾"

$45.00 Signed Hardbound
$250.00 Limited Edition with Print

» Purchase

» View Additional work by Brad Wilson


I hope wherever and whoever you’re celebrating this holiday of love with you can look beneath the commercial layers and find the raw, realness of what you truly have. And, I hope these images bring you the same reminder they do for me: we are an artful embodiment of creation and life. In the imperfections of love and relationship between human beings, there is also great beauty when we trust and let down our robe for another to see us as we are: alive and here. May there be a reflection in your eyes of one who sees you in all your strengths and weaknesses and loves you for them.

If you’d like to see more work like this please come by the gallery or visit our website.

Some other pieces I’ve selected that make me feel a sense of love, which are available for pick up and can be shipped in time for Valentine’s Day if ordered by February 10, 2019, are listed below. Let the gift you chose to express your love this year be one from the heart—one that will inspire you to love more deeply each time you see it.

—Juliane Worthington

Juliane is a freelance writer, editor and the gallery associate at photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe, NM where she lives with her three kids, two cats and golden retriever.








Additional Selections by Juliane


Steve Fitch
Las Vegas, Nevada, August, 2002
Archival Pigment Print
12×12" Image
Not Editioned
$600



Michael Lange, Wald #6678
Archival Pigment Print (3 sizes available - check add. info)
37×28" Image
Edition of 7



Maggie Taylor
Looking glass house, 2016, from A tale begun other days II 
Archival Pigment Print
8×8" Image
Edition of 15
$1500



                    Richard Tuschman
                    Green Bedroom (Morning), 2013
                    Archival Pigment Print
                    24×18" Image
                    Edition of 9
                    $2500




                            Rafu
                            Photographs by Michael Kenna
                            Nazraeli Press, Paso Robles, CA, USA, 2019
                            In English. 64 pp., 41 duotone plates, 8×12"
                            $75.00 – Hardbound
                            $1,500 –  Limited Edition with Print




David H. Gibson
Double Rainbow, Hondo Mesa, New Mexico, 1996
Gelatin-Silver Print
8×23" Image
16×32" Mat
Edition of 48
$800

• • • • •


All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints, 
please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com


Book Of The Week Sun Gardens Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins Reviewed by Kevin Bond This lavishly illustrated book features the beautiful and scientifically important photographs by Anna Atkins, whose landmark work combined a passion for botany with remarkable creativity and technical skill.
Sun Gardens. By Anna Atkins.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=PX324
Sun Gardens
Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins

Prestel, USA, 2018.
176 pp., 9x12".

In 1843 Anna Atkins created the first book illustrated with photographs, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. She has, however, only been briefly mentioned in the history of photography. By acknowledging her years of extensive, exhausting, and ambitious research, Sun Gardens: Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins is the best representation to date of Atkins’ importance and influence.

The title, Sun Gardens, is borrowed from the 1985 Aperture publication, Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms, which served as the original catalyst for reestablishing Atkins’ importance in the history of photography. The new publication was produced by the New York Public Library, who are responsible for digitizing Atkins’ work and making it freely available online. Sun Gardens captures the intention behind Atkins’ handmade photograms — they were not made as works of art to be seen in a frame on the wall, but, rather, as pages of a book best held in your hands.

Produced and edited by Joshua Chuang, the senior curator of photography at the NYPL, Sun Gardens was published to accompany an exhibition of Atkins’ work there. Larry Schaaf, the author of the original Sun Gardens, wrote the bulk of the essays, which provide the context for understanding both Atkins’ work and how she fits into the history of photography. Mike Ware, a chemist, photographer, and distinguished authority on the history and conservation of historic photographic processes, also contributed an extremely valuable text about the cyanotype process. He sketches out the origins and following conservation of cyanotypes, and more specifically the pigment Prussian blue, the base of all true cyanotypes. The inclusion of contemporary texts shines a new light on Atkins’ books and the cyanotype process in general, which is still commonly used by artists today.

Sun Gardens is a large book, measuring at about 10 x 12½ inches with 176 pages, and its size complements its content. It is the perfect blend between an art book and a photography textbook. A selection of the photograms from her original book, Photographs of British Algae, is reproduced in their original size, allowing an experience similar to those who were able to handle the original book. The delicate cyanotypes are made from artful arrangements of feathers, ferns, and flowering plants, and are printed to capture the deep hues of each photogram, as well as the subtle backside of the previous plate. The images are accompanied by informative text about the botanical specimens, reproduced perfectly in Atkins’ beautiful cursive handwriting.

After the photograms, Schaaf provides an account of Atkins’s life, accompanied by a number of historical images and documents. Beginning with her childhood, this essay provides an in-depth look at her passion for botany and how she paired it with her technical and creative skill set. The book proceeds to explain and illustrate all of the productions that Anna Atkins and her collaborator, Anne Dixon, made.

This is a beautiful catalog of the first book illustrated with photography. It’s difficult to properly represent the importance of this work. Not only was Atkins one of the most innovative and influential female photographers of all time; she pioneered both the photobook and the cyanotype as we know them today.




Kevin Bond is an Artist and Photographer based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds a BFA in photography from University of the Arts. Bond is the current shipping manager at photo-eye Bookstore and a lab technician at Bostick & Sullivan. You can reach him at kbondphotography@gmail.com or to see more of his work at www.kbondphotography.com.