New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010


Autochromes: Early Color Masterpieces from National Geographic
Spanish Gypsy; Granada, Spain by Jules Gervais-Courtellemont. Source: stevenkasher.com
Jules Gervais-Courtellemont, "Spanish Gypsy; Granada, Spain" c. 1914

Think of National Geographic Magazine and what is the first word that comes to mind? For me the word is color. So it comes as no surprise that the history of color photography at National Geographic extends back almost to the beginning of the medium. National Geographic Magazine published its first color photograph in 1914. It was an autochrome titled “A Ghent Flower Garden”.

Between 1921 and 1930 National Geographic Magazine published 1,818 autochromes. Today The Society has something like 14,000 autochromes in its archives. Of these, 65 were chosen to be exhibited at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. This is the second show at Steven Kasher derived from the archives of The National Geographic Society.

Fresh Mangosteen, Bangkok, Siam by Jules Gervais-Courtellemont. Source: stevenkasher.com
Jules Gervais-Courtellemont, "Fresh Mangosteen, Bangkok, Siam" c. 1926

Autochromes are glass plates coated with a mixture of potato starch and color dyes that filter the light before it reaches the emulsion resulting in a grainy, positive image. The photographs on view at Stephen Kasher Gallery are prints made from these glass plate positives.

The prints look more like pointillist paintings than photographs. The colors are wonderfully muted and pastel like and the large potato starch grains look like dots of pigment. Even in the earliest images you can see that sense of lighting that is the hallmark of a National Geographic photograph.

This show offers a rare glimpse of a large and significant archive that is mostly off limits to the public. Catch it while you can.


Autochromes: Early Color Masterpieces from National Geographic


Steven Kasher Gallery
521 W 23rd St.
Chelsea         Map

212 966 3978
stevenkasher.com

Thursday, May 27 to
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Hours: Tue-Sat, 11 to 6
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