one day at a time…
Thursday, 25 March 2004

Pix Of The Day: William Mortensen, A Manipulator
CREDIT: © Stuart Vail/TheScreamOnline.com
WHERE: online magazine for art, photography & literature. WHAT: William Mortensen.
Thumbnail clicks [1][2][3][4][5] pop-up source pages with larger images.
The Lawyer © Robert Balcomb CollectionGalileo © Robert Balcomb CollectionPouring Milk © Robert Balcomb CollectionNiccolo Machiavelli © Robert Balcomb CollectionVan Rijn © Robert Balcomb Collection
William Mortensen (1897-1965) was an influential photographer, experimenter, and innovator. He ran a photographic school in Laguna Beach, California, and many of his pupils went on to champion his philosophy and methods. Even today, digital image manipulators such as Peter Balazsy echo Mortensen's texture and screen techniques, and in the photo-optical world there are companies like Texturefects supplying materials to photo printers to perform processes that were pioneered by Mortensen.

Critical acclaim has been far from universal, however, and a cursory examination of the evidence offered by four online [1][2][3][4] archive galleries at the GEH [George Eastman House] online museum does not make a persuasive positive case, except perhaps for researchers, and the historical value of the Jean Harlow pictures.

Mortensen's work does still sell through specialist dealers such as JBG [Joseph Bellows Gallery], alongside works by such luminaries as Ansel Adams, or Brett Weston, whose supporters formed the core of Mortensen's detractors.

A two [1][2] part overview of Mortensen by Larry Lytle may be found at the online art magazine TheScreamOnline.com where there are also two [1][2] galleries containing a selection of Mortensen images. It was from there that we chose the five selections for the thumbnail strip. The middle image, entitled 'Pouring Milk' is also discussed in a article by Grey L. Silva at the PSA [Photographic Society of America], which offers an original Mortensen 'Metalchrome' process technical document in PDF format.

We would like to thank Gregory Georges whose book on digital image manipulation, entitled '50 Fast Photoshop 7 Techniques', suggested the research for this feature.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)