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Twentieth-Century Color Photographs: Identification and Care

  • Sylvie Pénichon

    With the advent of digital imaging, the era of traditional color photography is coming to an end. Yet more than 150 years after the invention of color photography, museums, archives, and personal collections are full of images to be cherished, studied, and preserved. These photographs, often made with processes and materials no longer used or easily identified, constitute an important part of the cultural and artistic heritage of the twentieth century. Today it is more important than ever to capture the technical understanding of the processes that created these irreplaceable images.

    In providing an accessible overview of the history and technology of the major traditional color photographic processes, this abundantly illustrated volume promises to become the standard reference in its field. Following an introductory chapter on color photography in the nineteenth century, seven uniformly structured chapters discuss the most commercially or historically significant processes of the twentieth century—additive color screen, pigment, dye imbibition, dye coupling, dye destruction, dye diffusion, and dye mordanting and silver toning—offering readers a user-friendly guide to materials, methods of identification,and common kinds of deterioration. A final chapter presents specific guidelines for collection management, storage, and preservation. There is also a glossary of technical terms, along with appendixes presenting detailed chronologies for Kodachrome and Ektachrome transparencies, Cibachrome/Ilfochrome printing materials, and Instant films.

    This book will interest instructors and students in classroom settings; conservators, registrars, curators, archivists, and collection caretakers; and anyone else concerned with the long-term preservation of color photographs.

    Sylvie Pénichon is a conservator of photographs at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth. She has published widely in conservation and photography journals.

    “Expectations for this publication were high, and happily Twentieth-Century Color Photographs: Identification and Care does not disappoint. The text is well-researched, carefully structured and extremely reader friendly. The illustrations are well chosen and the charts and diagrams are useful and clear. Pénichon's book will certainly become the definitive text on the subject, and should be required reading for curators, collection managers and conservators dealing with color photographs.”
    Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property

    “Impressively encyclopedic. . . . Well-written, exquisitely researched, and an invaluable reference volume.”
    —Online Photographer

    “A masterful history of color photographic processes. . . . Terrific.”

    “Even readers who have worked professionally with historical photographs for many years will be greatly enriched by Sylvie Pénichon’s illuminating book. . . . Carefully researched, clearly written, and organized for easy reference, this latest publication from the Getty Conservation Institute intended for the preservation of photographic materials will be of interest and use to anyone involved in the care and management of color photographs.”

    “An ambitious and readable volume that promises to be of interest to researchers of all stripes investigating colour photography and to the professionals who display, care for, and catalogue the original materials on which appreciating its history also so dearly depends.”
    History of Photography

    “A reference that will be useful for generations to come.”
    Journal of the American Institute for Conservation

    “A long-awaited addition in the field of conservation publications.”
    International Journal of Cultural Policy


    360 pages
    8 x 10 inches
    375 color and 70 b/w illustrations
    ISBN 978-1-60606-156-5

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute