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HomeContentsThemes > Landscape photography and the New Pictorialism

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There are a great many photographers who continue the straight photography tradition and they vary between those who are fine art photographers, such as Eliot Porter (1901-1990) and Robert Glenn Ketchum, who are purchased by major collections and those who illustrate coffee table books and calendars. The blurred margins between these mean that artists with color portfolios are barred consciously or unconsciously from the fine art world - they may sell art prints to collectors but their images take a while to be added into museum collections. The fine art photographers who specialize in the sumptuous moody black and white or toned landscapes that are as much about a state of mind as the physical environment are more readily accepted with the gallery and museum community. There are a number of these who require constant attention as their work is in a different league.
The New Pictorialism in Landscape Photography
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Michael Kenna
Toya Lake Boulder, Sobetsu, Hokkaido, Japan 
2004
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Jack Spencer
Monument Valley, Monument Valley, Utah 
2003
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Rena Bass Forman
Patagonia, Chile, #5 (Lago Sarmie) 
2004
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Rolfe Horn
Dusk, Izumo, Japan 
2001
It is intriguing to see the repetition of photographic styles as new generations of talented photographers come and go and in landscape photography we can clearly see this happen. In the last twenty years there has been a resurgence of pictorialism but with some twists. The soft focus lens of the late nineteenth century has been replaced with pin sharp lens but the overall feel is the same. Here we get moody shots devoid of people - the lapping waves and streams are caught in a blurry flow. The skilled techniques of master printers, such as Michael Kenna and Rolfe Horn, capture the full range of black and white tones.
 
Another tendency is the use of processes that mimic the pigment and bromoil prints of the nineteenth century - some photographers use the exact techniques whilst others use digital processes to create stylistic facsimiles.
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