The Art of Platinum Printing

Fri 16 May 2014Sat 12 Jul 2014
Opening Times: 
WEDNESDAY - FRIDAY 12:00 - 19:00 P.M. SATURDAY 10:00 - 16:00 P.M.

Bernheimer Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of museum quality taking place from 16 May to 12 July, 2014 at the gallery in Lucerne, Haldenstrasse 11. The group exhibition THE ART OF PLATINUM PRINTING is a continuation and extension of the highly successful exhibition staged by Bernheimer Fine Art Photography in Munich in autumn 2013. 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 by photographers such as Horst P. Horst, Sebastian Copeland, Douglas Kirkland, Len Prince and Gregor Törzs.

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.

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 and chose the platinum printing process to give these images a significantly wider range of tones and a luxurious matte surface. A small selection of these valuable prints by Horst P. Horst coming directly from the artist´s estate will form the highlight of the exhibition at Bernheimer. Some of these photographs have never been on display before and will be shown at Bernheimer in Lucerne for the first time. In autumn 2014 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London dedicates a large retrospective to the fashion photography icon.

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 images 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, one of the young talents represented by Bernheimer, 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. Playing with our viewing habits and by experimenting with different papers and negatives he achieves every time a new aesthetic dimension.

Among others the exhibition showcases for the first time Platinum prints by the British/ American photographer, adventurer and environmentalist Sebastian Copeland, who took photographs of his expeditions through the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland. He captures unique sceneries, in which the mystical atmosphere of the landscapes is even more emphasized by the Platinum printing technique.

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.