Edited by Karen Hellman
With contributions by Sylvie Aubenas, Sarah Freeman, Anne de Mondenard,
Karlyn Olvido, and Paul-Louis Roubert
In the years following the announcement of the invention of photography in 1839, practitioners in France gave shape to this intriguing new medium through experimental printing techniques and innovative compositions. The rich body of work they developed proved foundational to the establishment of early photography, from the introduction of the paper negative in the late 1840s to the proliferation of more standardized equipment and photomechanical technology in the 1860s.
The essays in this elegant volume investigate the early history of the medium when the ambiguities inherent in the photograph were ardently debated. Focusing on the French photographers who worked with paper negatives, especially the key figures Édouard Baldus, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, and Charles Nègre, Real/Ideal explores photography’s status as either fine art or industrial product (or both), its repertoire of subject matter, its ideological functions, and even the ever-experimental photographic process itself.
Karen Hellman is assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Sylvie Aubenas is the director of the Department of Prints and Photographs at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. Sarah Freeman is associate conservator of paper conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Anne de Mondenard is curator at the Centre de recherché et de restauration des musées de France, Paris. Karlyn Olvido is a former research assistant at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Paul-Louis Roubert is assistant professor at Université Paris 8 and president of the Société française de photographie, Paris.
“The quality of discovery inherent in early photography is on full display in Real/Ideal.”
—New York Times
“Highly recommended.”240 pages
9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches
212 color illustrations
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum