Picks and Pans Review: Paper and Light

UPDATED 06/18/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/18/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Richard R. Brettell

This beautifully packaged book is subtitled "The Calotype in France and Great Britain, 1839-1870." The calotype was an early photographic process by which an unlimited number of prints could be made from a paper negative. It flourished after the era of the single-print daguerreotype until the invention of the glass negative, and during the height of its popularity calotype negatives as well as prints were displayed as art. The prints are distinguished by a romantic softness that one of the essayists in this volume compares to Impressionist painting. Some of the mysterious calotypes of bare trees in ghostly negative images suggest the quality that contemporary Florida photographer Jerry Ulesman has exploited in his multiple-image prints. Many of the pictures here are of buildings, but the most charming are those of people frozen in the formal poses once struck for portrait painters. Brettell is a curator at the Art Institute of Chicago. (Godine, $35)

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