Subscribe to Blog via Email
Guest Blog by Michael Donnor
Looking down the long, straight corridor of Boston’s Panopticon Gallery the images on display are gigantic in their intimacy, containing a certain presence of anxiety within their landscapes. Bradford Washburn’s 4×5 prints entice the viewer in. Peering up close, the images act like tiny windows looking out at a world too large for their small frames to contain. The scenery shows the monuments of Earth: mountains and valleys, covered by snow and dotted with the people crazy enough to explore them.
Ansel Adams once declared Washburn,
“A roving genius of mind and mountains.”
And no doubt he was. It dawned on me in bewildered excitement while walking through this show,
“Good God, the camera!”
These are not photographs of half domes and lazy rivers, taken from the cozy roadsides along the great American family trip. These are photographs made with almost unfathomable nerve. Washburn took his large format camera, plates, and wooden tripods into the belly of the frozen beast.
Fascinated by what he must have been thinking on his icy forays, I imagined a conversation Washburn might possibly have had with himself:
“I should seek the coldest, most remote, formidable spot on this rock that circles the sun and then make photographs, but it must be done with large format cameras and perhaps some sturdy rope, so I may hang out the window of an airplane with no wheels, photographing from high above the mountain peaks.”
Along with Washburn’s 4×5 contact prints, mural sized photographs are interwoven through the exhibition and offer the sweeping scale most often conjured when thinking of large format landscapes. However, I found that it was the delicacy of the small prints, the rarity of the unique photographs, and the perfection of the contact prints that gave me a new appreciation for Washburn’s classic landscapes.
To hold a 4×5 contact print is to hold wonder. Some are cracked, bent, shoe-boxed, but all are impeccably printed by his own hand from the plates now long lost, plates which were once exposed to a landscape incomprehensible enough to engage a madman on his lifelong pursuit.
The Artists Corner at Panopticon displays a perfect contemporary response to Washburn. The photographs by Ivana Damien George engage the topics of environment, global warming, and water resources.
“Bradford Washburn’s: Vintage Photographs” and Ivana Damien George’s “Glacial Waters” will be exhibited at Panopticon Gallery in Boston’s Kenmore Square through December 9, 2014. For more information, go to: http://www.panopticongallery.com/exhibitions/
Guest blogger Michael Donnor is a Boston-based fine art photographer. To see his work and learn about his current exhibit in the Private Room at Panopticon Gallery through October 15, 2014, go to: https://whatwillyouremember.com/donnors-celestial-alchemy/