"They swam in a rich haze that took from them all suggestions of unfeeling stone, and made them seem only the airy nothings of a dream…" Mark Twain
Ernest Ashton’s Evening near the Pyramids (ca. 1897) is an atmospheric photograph that exemplifies the potency of the photogravure syntax. It appeared at least twice in the late 1800’s – in Stieglitz’s Camera Notes (vol 2 no 2) and in Die Kunst in der Photographie (1897). Comparing the prints side by side offers a lesson in nuance. As in many print medium, quality definitely matters. The superior acuity and tonal range of the Die Kunst print makes it much more effective in eliciting feelings of dusk, quiet and mystery. While it is pretty much impossible to convey the nuanced syntax of photogravure on line, the comparison illustrated here offers an indication.
“This publication may well be the most important and valuable documentation of art photography in the German language but, because of its rarity, has remained virtually unknown.” In the History of Photography, Rolf H. Krauss
Between 1897-1908, 356 individual beautifully executedlarge format, hand-pulled photogravures and 318 tipped autotypes (halftones) were issued as part of 66 individual art folios in the German photographic art journal: Die Kunst in der Photographie.” -translated to The Art in Photography. Franz Goerke (1856-1931), the editor and publisher of this publication, was an important exponent of German art photography. Dr. Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, who taught the young Alfred Stieglitz photographic chemistry in Germany in his formative years, commented in a photographic review during its’ first year of publication (1897): Die Kunst in der Photographie is a …”totally new and original undertaking. Many waffle about art in photography, but what nonsense. Here (speaking of Goerke) we are dealing with the work of a sensitive expert.” 1.
Die Kunst in der Photographie was the first photographic journal to concern itself only with the photographic image and its aesthetics, and which treated art photography as an important international movement. In the introduction to the first issue Goerke wrote: "The development of amateur photography has reached a critical point. Out of the wide circle of amateurs has emerged a small community which sees more in photography than a playful hobby. A new era in amateur photography has thereby begun, the era of artistic and highly personal photography… The publisher has in this work set himself the task of presenting an overview of this kind of photography, its problems and achievements, through the medium of reproduction prints." (translated from the original German)
Die Kunst in der Photographie came out six years before the American influential publication Camera Work edited by Alfred Stieglitz and they used photographs by 23 of the same artists. Entire issues of the publication were dedicated to American photography (for example 1898: issue 1) and to the work of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia (1901: issue 6 and 1908: issue 3). It is difficult to deny this journal had an immense influence that has been largely ignored in the English-language histories of photography. (Luminous Lint)
Heidtmann, Frank Die deutsche Photoliteratur 1839-1978: Theorie, Technik, Bildleistungen : e. systemat. Bibliogr. d. selbständigen deutschsprachigen Photoliteratur / German Photographic Literature, 1839-1978: Theory, Technology, Visual: A Classified Bibliography of German-Language Photographic Publications (München; New York; London; Paris: Saur, 1980)
Rolf H. Krauss: Die Kunst in der Photographie, the German Camera Work: Part 1: The Publication and its Images: History of Photography, Volume 10, Number 4, October-December 1986: p. 267
Rolf H. Krauss: Die Kunst in der Photographie, the German Camera Work: Part 2: Texts in Abstract: History of Photography, Volume 11, Number 1, January-March 1987