So the same day that my post on Inspiration Points published here, the George Eastman house tumbler published a very different version of the Anne Brigman print which caught my eye at Oakland.
The Brigman print I saw in Oakland was very close to the print at the Getty. Extremely low contrast. Everything you’d want from something Pictorialist. Seeing a high-contrast 1940 print of the same image is interesting…and offputting.
And kind of comforting. With the focus on technical mastery and using all the contrast and tonal range available and trying to get things as sharp as possible, it’s nice to be reminded that those tools aren’t the only ones available to photographers. I’ve never been a huge pictorialist fan but yeah, I much much much prefer the subtlety of the older print.
Update: I did some digging around at the George Eastman House to see if there was any additonal information about these. It’s nice that they have a record of the early image and the later one. Even better, the later record states that, “Brigman reworked her earlier negatives as late as the 1940s.” So this isn’t the case of a rogue printer updating old work to current fashions. The artist herself decided to revise her previous work.