PARIS — At Paris Photo 2022 Hans Kraus will present From Experiments to Masterworks, featuring photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot, Calvert R. Jones, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Nègre and others. An early experimental paper negative by Talbot of Lacock Abbey will be shown alongside his fully resolved technical achievement Nelson’s Column under construction. Gustave Le Gray will be featured by one of his singular masterworks, La Vague Brisée. Kraus will also present select photograms from Anna Atkins’ cyanotype (1851-54) to Sugimoto’s Lightning Fields (2009).
In a busy scene of urban building and civic pride, Talbot has recorded Nelson’s Column under construction, Trafalgar Square. Here it is seen in an unusually fine salt print. The most precise way to date this image is also one of its most compelling visual aspects, the jumbled collection of posters and announcements decorating the hoardings. Talbot was in London from 31 March through 7 April 1844 meeting with Antoine Claudet, when he most likely took this important photograph. Given Talbot's unusual framing in this photograph, perhaps it was not so much the rising monument that he was seeing but the broader implications of a new type of public area being introduced into London.
The Château de Chambord was built by François I in 1519, four years after the young prince had ascended to the throne. Talbot's is among the first photographs of this historic château and certainly the first on paper; this is the finest print known of this image. In 1843 Talbot photographed numerous places in France in preparation for The Pencil of Nature. Describing his effort to photograph Chambord, Talbot wrote, recalling a previous visit: "Chambord had ever dwelt upon my memory as one of the most remarkable objects I had seen in the course of my wanderings." Talbot captured not only the Château's elaborate elegance but also the timbers that testified to its prolonged restoration.
In La Vague Brisée, Le Gray displays elements of nature while simultaneously capturing motion. He shows the heavy sky, wind filling the sails of boats racing across the horizon, and waves crashing against the rocks. Beginning in 1855, Le Gray made several acclaimed seascapes. Of this series of Normandy and Mediterranean views, the dramatic and dynamic La Vague Brisée is Le Gray's only vertical composition. The photograph was very popular in its day and is one of only three images for which Le Gray filed for copyright with the French Ministry of the Interior. This is a particularly rich print; no finer example has been on the market.
Anna Atkins’ photogram “Aspidium Trifoliatum (Jamaica)” is a striking precursor of the expressive photography of twentieth century and contemporary artists, including Dora Maar, Adam Fuss and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Dora Maar studied painting and photography in Paris in the 1920s, modeling for Man Ray and others before turning to photography herself, receiving commissions in fashion photography and advertising. Maar had become involved in the Surrealist movement in the 1930s and began to paint and to make photocollages, the work for which she is best known. Maar met Picasso in 1935, becoming his lover and muse. In the 1950s, after her relationship with Picasso had ended, Maar devoted herself to painting and continued to make photographs. The 1980s saw Maar experimenting with producing photograms of abstract lemons and candlesticks and reworking old negatives to generate new work.