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The Platinum Process: Photographs from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century

February 27–May 23, 2010

Photographers have long been seduced by the subtle, lustrous, and rich shades of the platinum print, which range from the deepest blacks to the most delicate shades of white. An exhibition of some 75 works dating from the late nineteenth century to the present, The Platinum Process showcases a selection of outstanding platinum prints drawn from the Museum's collection. Highlights include photographs by early masters of the platinum process including Frederick H. Evans (1853–1943) and Paul Strand (1890–1976), as well as works by skilled contemporary practitioners such as Lois Conner (born 1951).

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Revered for its permanence as well as its tonal depth and beauty, the process has been treasured by photographers and collectors since its development in the nineteenth century, its popularity impeded only by platinum's rarity and high cost. Unlike the more frequently used silver process, which involves suspending silver particles in gelatin in order to create a light-sensitive surface, platinum is deposited directly onto paper, allowing artists to create a matte image that boasts a wide tonal spectrum unique to this metal and this process. While encompassing artists from a broad range of dates and styles, The Platinum Process features one of the Museum's treasures: Paul Strand's iconic 1915 masterpiece Wall Street. One of only two platinum prints Strand made of the picture, the exquisite tones emphasize the abstract patterns created by a monumental architectural facade and the long shadows cast by walking figures.

Main Building


This exhibition is supported by the Arlin and Neysa Adams Fund.


Peter Barberie • The Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center
Julia Dolan • Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography

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