Dresden, Germany 1866 – Birgitz-bei-Innsbruck, Austria 1944
(Jelly jars and bottle) [Geleeglaser und Flasche] (c.1905) Materials & Technique: photographs, multiple bromlil transfer on tissue multiple bromoil transfer on tissue
I have dedicated my life to studying and determining the conditions under which it is possible to reproduce the intensity of light forces in nature through photography.
Heinrich Kühn studied botany and medicine before turning to photography in 1883. His first experiments were in the area of micro-photography. Kühn developed skill in making bromoils (in which oil is brushed onto the paper to form the image) and gum bichromates (in which gum arabic is used as the colloid or coating medium), techniques that allowed extensive manipulation. He produced prints with a rich, tonally subtle and exquisite surface using Japanese tissue papers, which imparted a particularly unique luminosity and delicacy to the image. He also raised photogravure, a photomechanical process, to the highest artistic level.
Kühn was aligned with the ideas put forward by the Photosecessionists in the United States and The Linked Ring Brotherhood in England (of which he was a member) who around the turn of the 20th century dedicated themselves to the promotion of photography as an art form. Of Kühn's work, critic Peter Weiermair has written: 'aesthetic composition and the integrity of technical hand workmanship in his work unify to create an image of a clear, simple and idyllic world'.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra