Platinum: Photographs by Kitchen & Busch
Platinum prints (and their close cousins, palladium prints) are valued for their velvet matte surface, subtle range of tones, delicate rendering of the image, and colors which vary from cool greys to warm, rich browns. Patented in 1873, the platinum process has been used nearly consistently to the present. Along with other historic processes, platinum printing is one of many options available to today’s photographers. Yet even as digital photography becomes predominant, some photographers have gravitated to the platinum process for its analogue appeal, despite its expense and the labor it requires.
Douglas Isaac Busch and Elizabeth Kitchen are California-based photographers that have produced extensive bodies of work in platinum, exploiting the particular characteristics of the materials to produce innovative and compelling prints. Although many photographers experiment with the platinum process, few have explored the medium as extensively.
Kitchen’s often singular subject is captured stoically in a way that allows our eyes to take delight in the fleshy petals of a magnolia or the taut skin pulled over a muscular frame. Primarily shooting and printing in her Venice studio, the photographer personally prints every image and looks at each step of the process and every decision made as part of the art form. Each finished photograph achieves a liberated aesthetic appeal emphasizing the qualities of the subject depicted. Comparatively, Busch’s photography has taken him and his large-format camera (built by the artist and ranging from 8″x10″ to 40″x60″) all over the globe.
Busch’s images are full of density and complexity, often capturing more than our eyes would if we were to witness the environment firsthand. Busch’s strong compositional sensibility is only matched by his aptitude and understanding of the camera’s technical abilities, which together result in images that supersede reality. With forty photographs and one large format camera the show is organized to highlight the variety of subjects and processes that are used to make photos in platinum.