Archive for April, 2014

Vintage Prints Redux

Posted in Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Dr. Baker & the Premie,Phil '53
The Premie,Philadelphia General Hospital 1953 Vintage print by Zimbel on Dupont Varigam SG/DW paper. 9 3/8”x 7 3/8” Trimmed flush,signed au verso with stamps Condition :Good with slight abrasions on edges. [Logged later #3394)

VINTAGE PRINTS

At 6:30 this morning I started to think about vintage prints. I always considered the subject a commercial one. It lets photographers and their dealers charge more for a particular image. David Vestal in a column titled “Rare or Well Done?” discusses the issue of vintage and limited edition prints in his usual thoughtful and thorough manner. His conclusion was that that the age and rarity of the print has nothing to do with it’s beauty. The most beautiful print of a 50 year old image could have been made a few hours ago. I know. I have many negatives over 50 years old.

So I was wrong about vintage prints., It’s not about money, it’s about history. To my surprise accepting this thought made me change my mind and head to my vintage box from which I picked the above. I realised why vintage prints are important. It has to do with what an image looked like at the time it was made. Concepts of the good print change and this is all important from a historical viewpoint. Papers change, developers change..digimania is taking over. If it’s about photographic history the date of a print matters. If it’s about art, it doesn’t.
Some museums consider the historic critical for their collections…and then again, some do not. I once offered to make a larger print of an image that MOMA had chosen. The curator said “We have chosen this print of this image. This is print we want.” Contrast that to a request I got from another museum for a vintage print of “Irish Dancehall, The Bronx 1954. “We will only consider a vintage print.” Well, there is no vintage print of the photograph..the few I had printed burned in a fire at my studio. A print I made in the 1980’s is certainly better than my originals, but it will not go on their wall.

So where do I stand now? In my mind I agree that a vintage print should be more valuable; in my heart where my creative resides, I think the most magic print available should be more valuable.

These are the kinds of thoughts that torment an old photographer. There are no answers so I just keep working.

©2007- 2014 george zimbel


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