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demachy, french pictorialist    Oct 26, '10 2:45 AM
by brun for group historicalziegfeld #475

vue ma capacité à écrire en anglais : cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Demachy

Summarized from: Wikipedia, Robert Demachy

Robert Demachy (1859–1936) was a prominent French Pictorial photographer of the late 19th and early 20th century. He is best known for his intensely manipulated prints that display a distinct painterly quality.

Sometime in the late 1870s he began experimenting with photography. It’s not known what or who influenced him to become involved, but he could devote as much time and money to this endeavor as he wanted and he quickly became highly proficient with a camera. For the next thirty years he devoted all of his time to both taking photographs and writing extensively about photography.

In 1894 he began to use the gum bichromate printing process recently introduced by A. Rouillé-Ladevèze at the Paris Salon. He developed a style that relied upon heavy manipulation of the image both during the development of the negative and again while printing. As he experimented with the process he wrote about his findings and about the aesthetics of the gum print, helping to popularize it among French photographers. Later that year he, along with Constant Puyo, Le Begue and Bucquet, helped organize the first Paris Salon founded on the artistic principles of the Photo-Club de Paris.

In 1895 he had his first exhibition of gum prints at the Photo-Club de Paris. This helped to promote his increasingly international status, and later that same year he was elected to The Linked Ring in London. In 1897 he published first book, with co-author Alfred Maskell, Photo-aquatint or Gum Bichromate Process (London: Hazell, Watson & Vinery)

In 1898 he began corresponding with Stieglitz, often complaining about the lack of true artistic photography in France. The two would continue writing each other for more than fifteen years. In 1904 six of his photographs, three photogravures and three half-tones were published in Alfred Stieglitz’s famous journal Camera Work, accompanied by a review by Joseph Keiley. These images were seen by American photographer Anne Brigman, who wrote to Stieglitz that they had a serious influence on her own work.[3]

About 1906 he abandoned gum-bichromate printing altogether in favor of oil printing. With Puyo he wrote and published Procédés d’art en photographie (Paris: Photo-Club de Paris).

He continued to explore further ways to manipulate his images, and by 1911 he had perfected the modern bromoil process. This allowed him to become even bolder in his visual style, and soon his works attracted a broad international audience. Over the next two years he exhibited in Paris, Vienna and New York, as well as London.

Without notice or explanation, Demachy suddenly gave up taking photographs in early 1914. He never again touched a camera, even refusing to take snapshots of his grandchildren.[1] No one was ever able to extract any reason from him for this sudden change, and it remains a mystery to this day. The timing of his decision coincides with the beginning of World War I in Europe, but there is no indication that he was adversely affected by these events. He continued to make sketches, and at one point he reported that he was amused that he had been questioned as a possible spy when he was drawing pictures near Le Havre.[1] He also exhibited some photographs after 1914 and occasionally wrote brief articles.

Demachy died of arteriole sclerosis in Hennequeville, Normandy, on 29 December 1936. He was buried two days later in the family tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Just before his death he destroyed most of his sketches and gave any remaining photographs to the Royal Photographic Society and the Photo-Club de Paris.

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