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Portfolio #1, 1978
Jerry McMillanAmerican, 1936-
Portfolio of 12 sulfide duo-tones from black-and-white photographic prints, Edition of 16, No. 4
Sheet: 20 x 16 in. each (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Anonymous Gift
Â© Jerry McMillan
Not on view
Jerry McMillan defies easy classification as a photographer, and his work has continually challenged traditional assumptions about the medium. Early in his career, he asked, â€śDoes a photograph need to be flat?â€ť and went on to produce innovative three-dimensional photo-bags and photo-etched aluminum and stainless steel sculptures. His maverick status was recognized early on when the photo historian Peter Bunnell, then curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, included McMillanâ€™s work in the paradigm-shifting exhibition â€śPhotography into Sculptureâ€ť in 1971.
Portfolio #1 resulted from another set of questions the artist pondered: Must a photograph record an object, scene or event? Or â€ścould photography produce a pure, camera-made, non-objective abstractionâ€¦ Could [photography] be concerned with spatial relationships so that the photographic part of a photograph is invisible?â€ť To find out, the artist created geometric forms that appear to rise magically from the surface of brown kraft paper. These setups were lighted to enhance their dimensional effect, and photographed in black and white. The prints were enlarged and then toned using a sulfide duo-tone process to closely match the brown kraft paper originals. The result is a testament to McMillanâ€™s wit and inventivenessâ€”the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane, with little evidence of the creative process.
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