In autumn 2013 Bernheimer Fine Art Photography is presenting an exhibition of museum quality: PLATINUM is a group exhibition highlighting the most valued of all photographic images. Platinum prints offer the ultimate in photographic permanence coupled with a subtle tonal range and a tactile quality of the image made on handmade paper. This exhibition presents finest examples of the works of masters such as Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, Herb Ritts, Mark Seliger and Gregor Toerzs.
Platinum prints are loved by photographers and treasured by collectors and investors because of their special tones, the surface quality and their permanence. The unique beauty of a fine platinum print involves a broad scale of tones from black to white. The delicate, rich platinum tones range from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid tone greys that are unobtainable in silver prints. In the deepest shadows the platinum print still presents information; the depth of the image is alive and three-dimensional.
Platinum prints are not only exceptionally beautiful, they are the most durable of all photographic processes. The platinum metals are more stable than gold, and it is estimated that a platinum image, properly made, can last thousands of years.
The nature of this process provides another distinctiveness, even within a short edition of the same image, each print carries diverse subtleties making it a unique interpretation in itself. This handcrafted printing process is far removed from the world of mass produced silver-based papers and modern supports for digital outputs. In platinum printing there is no reliance of factory prepared materials, each print of an edition being executed individually as though is was the only example of that image, an unrepeatable dialogue between the image, the chemistry and the printer's skill.
Invented by William Willis in 1876 the process became popular during the 19th century; the Pictorialists, a group of photographers active primarily between the years 1880 to 1920, worked using the Platinum process extensively because of its delicacy and its potential for expressing the characteristics of more traditional art making methods such as drawing and etching.
The process virtually disappeared during World War I when platinum was diverted to the war effort - the cost became prohibitive. Due to its ease of manufacturing, availability and cost, silver became the dominant light sensitive material, a fact that continues to this day. Where once there had been 20 commercial companies supplying platinum paper, by 1930 the last company went out of business.
Modern platinum printing is an entirely handmade process. It begins by preparing a light sensitive solution, which contains platinum and palladium salts. This solution is brushed onto specially selected art paper, dried and exposed in contact with a negative to ultraviolet light. The exposed paper is placed in a developer, where metal salts are reduced back to a metallic state forming the image. It is then carried through a series of clearing baths. The print that emerges from the final wash consists of nothing but particles of precious metals permanently embedded in the fibers of the paper.
Since the early 1960s, American photographer Irving Penn made a limited number of platinum prints of his most celebrated photographs. A meticulous craftsman, Penn experimented extensively to make prints with remarkably subtle, rich tonal ranges and luxurious textures. Through his work the Platinum printing process became popular once more.
A number of artists followed his example to present some of their most iconic images. In particular the fashion photographers enjoyed the richness of Platinum prints, Horst P.Horst selected his most iconic images, as well as Herb Ritts, who chose the platinum printing process to give some of his fine images a significantly wider range of tones and a luxurious matte surface.
Barry Lattegan and later Mark Seliger were also among the artists who wished to emphazise the importance for their photographs as works of art rather than picturesonly taken forthereproduction in magazines.Works by these masters will be on display at Bernheimer Fine Art Photography.
The making of a Platinum print is an art form in itself. Most of the photographers who choose to have their pictures printed in this method select only their most treasured, valued and loved pictures to be presented in this way. Only very few masters remain worldwide capable of printing in this highly delicate and elaborate manner. Bernheimer Fine Art Photography will exhibit prints of the most renown printing experts from London and New York specially made for their exhibition.
There are also a few younger artists who have been interested in the Platinum printing process, deliberately turning away from the digital outputs of our times and making this handmade process part of their art work. Gregor Toerzs has turned his studio in Berlin into a laboratory to specialise in this printing technique. The photographer personally platinum prints each photograph in his own studio and he considers the printing process, as well as choosing the matching distinctive paper, part of his art.
From the beginning of 2013 Bernheimer Fine Art Photography is the only gallery representative of Gregor Toersz in Europe. In the PLATINUM exhibition his work is presented for the first time within the gallery's premises.
All of these photographers aim to not only take a good picture, but to make their most valued pictures into a precious print and thus highlight the ornate aesthetic of their art works.
The exhibition PLATINUM will present works by Nick Brandt, Brigitte Carnochan, Sebastian Copeland, Horst P. Horst, Barry Lategan, Silke Lauffs, Len Prince, Mirella Ricciardi, Herb Ritts, Jerry Schatzberg, Mark Seliger, George Tice and Gregor Toerzs.