In our speedy, digital world, Carol Munder is a photographer of a rare kind. Her photogravure images are based on a 200-year-old method of image-making, a sophisticated photomechanical processes she has been investigating since 2003. Her newest photogravures will be revealed in an exhibit throughout January with a special preview on Saturday, January 7th from 6pm-8pm at SALT Gallery on 830 Fleming Street.
Unlike a photograph, where the image is typically made directly on photo paper in the darkroom, the photogravure image is made when the photographer’s negative is transferred onto a copper plate that is used to print or engrave the image with ink. SALT will offer a selection of Munder’s current photogravures, images that have come out of the previous year’s work and some of which explore montage.
“The work of Carol Munder is rare and important,” says SALT Gallery owner Jeffrey Cardenas. “There is the image itself which is complex and personal, and then there is the discipline in production that that makes each piece unique.”
The development of the photogravure process dates back to 1826, more than four hundred years after the invention of intaglio printmaking. Photogravure plates go through several distinct stages: an alchemy of various chemical baths, light exposure, gelatin tissue adhesions, and etchings leading up to the final printing. Photography masters like Alfred Steiglitz and Edward Steichen considered it to be the finest method ever of picture making.
“When I was young and in photography school I was influenced by Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Weston, Minor White and many more of the pioneering photographers,” says Munder, a Columbia College graduate and recipient of many awards, including the prestigious South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual Artist Fellowship. “Later Ralph Gibson’s interest in the narrative was inspiring for some of my future work. Now I find myself influenced by artists that are not necessarily photographers. The painter Georgio Morandi inspired several years of work and for the past couple of years one of the founders of the Bauhaus, Laszlo Maholy Nagy, has been a big influence.”
The nearly forty-year Sugarloaf resident has exhibited her work widely, most recently in Paris, and still works with film and excludes the digital process which “makes for many headaches and long hours struggling to get what any normal sane person would learn how to do in Photoshop,” she says. The craftsmanship and aesthetic of her photogravures exceeds what can be typically found in most digital printmaking, resulting in a sensual, almost other-worldly quality.
“I am just not interested in working on the computer and feel that for myself the results would be different,” she offers. “There is something in the struggle that helps create the images, good or bad.”