Cyanotypes were invented in 1842 and continue to be used today. The beautiful blue prints evolved from a formal printing technique in the 19th century to a more experimental and process driven approach in the 20th and 21st centuries. The shadow prints are created by putting a transparent photo negative or other object of interest (plants are common) on light sensitive paper and then leaving it in the sun for a set amount of time–the longer the darker the blue becomes. The covered areas remain white and the exposed sections become blue, evidence of the sun’s touch.
On rotating display:
Meghann Riepenhoff, Littoral drift: Ecotone, 2018.
The series consists of cyanotypes made directly in the landscape, where elements like precipitation, waves, wind, and sediment physically etch into the photochemistry.
Images of Iraq by John Henry Haynes, circa 1888-1900. Cyanotype. John Henry Haynes Archive, Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University.
Bea Nettles, Breaking the Rules: A Photo Media Cookbook, 1977.
Based on photography workshops Bea Nettles gave across the US, the how-to book is a step-by-step guide to alternative photo processing. “Fish Fantasy” is a cyanotype with colored pencil etching, a lovely example of the experimental process displayed throughout her “recipe” book.
Ginger Burrell, Yellowstone, 2009.
Accordion book of landscape images in Yellowstone National Park. The cyanotypes are printed on Rives BFK.
Emily Sheffer, Winter Solstice, 2017.
The accordion book consists of a cyanotype from every hour of sunlight on the winter solstice.
Guest curated by Lucy Jackson (‘23)