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Tuesday, May 30 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Photographic Materials) Moonlight and Midnight: The evolution of Edward Steichen's 'Moonrise' prints

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Known as the quintessential painter-photographer, Edward Steichen combined artistically renowned compositions with an excellence in technique and experimentation. He often created multiple versions of a print in order to test out the subject matter using different combinations of colors and effect. Two gum-platinum prints by Steichen, from his 1904 'Moonrise' series in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, illustrate his experimental attitude. Though they appear to have been printed from the same negative, each displays unique characteristics, color palettes, orientations, and titles. Historically, very little was known about the composition or creation of either of these two large-format photographs. To understand the individual elemental and material variations within these prints, and to compare known processes to those described by the artist in a correspondence, X-Ray Fluorescence and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy were performed. Characteristic signals for Prussian blue, platinum, chromium, iron, and lead were detected in both large prints. One of the works also showed clear signs of an applied varnish, which at the time was only traditionally applied to paintings. This paper proposes a tentative timeline for the creation and alteration of the works, based on the results of chemical and visual analysis and art historical research. The understanding of these two mystifying artworks has been significantly expanded due to the material analysis of these objects.

avatar for Kaslyne O'Connor

Kaslyne O'Connor

Paper Conservator
Kaslyne O’Connor is paper conservator in private practice. She was previously the Assistant Conservator at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, where she focused on the treatment and rehousing of damaged archival maps, prints, and records. She came to Edmonton directly from Chicago... Read More →

avatar for Sylvie Pénichon, [PA]

Sylvie Pénichon, [PA]

Director, Paper, Photography and Media Conservation, The Art Institute of Chicago
Sylvie Pénichon is the Director of Paper, Photography and Media Conservation in the Department of Conservation and Science at The Art Institute of Chicago. Her most recent contributions to the museum’s publications include essays in André Kertész: Postcards from Paris (2021... Read More →
avatar for Ariel Pate

Ariel Pate

Assistant Curator of Photography, Milwaukee Art Museum
Ariel Pate is Assistant Curator of Photography at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Previously, she was a curatorial assistant in the department of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was responsible for the creation of The Alfred Stieglitz Collection: Photographs site... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 3:00pm - 3:30pm CDT
Michigan 1A-B Concourse Level, East Tower