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UNTITLED (FRESSON FASHION PORTRAIT)

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INVENTORY# 42
CATALOGUE# 23600004
TITLE UNTITLED (FRESSON FASHION PORTRAIT)
PHOTOGRAPHER METZNER, SHEILA
PHOTOGRAPHER DOB 1939
PHOTOGRAPHER NATIONALITY AMERICAN
DATE OF PHOTOGRAPH 1992
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN UNKNOWN
DIMENSIONS (inches) 19X13
METRIC DIMENSIONS (cm) 48.26x33.02
COLOR COLOR
CATEGORY ALL PORTRAITS
TYPE OF PRINT FRESSON PRINT
FRAMED TRUE
SIGNED TRUE
LABELS/MARKINGS Initialed on recto, tags attached to verso "Jaster, Ed Heritage Auctions. Sheila Metzner, Fresson Print, One".
CONDITION  PERFECT
BACK STORY The Fresson process was invented at the turn of the century in France by Theodore-Henri Fresson. This unique method of color printing produces an image that is characteristically diffused and subtle, reminiscent of the "pointillism" of Impressionist painting.

The Atelier Fresson is located in a small town about an hour's drive outside of Paris. It is presently run by the inventor's grandson, Michel and his three artisans. Michel carefully selects the photographers that he prints for. "When they come to us," he says, "we see if we get along and if the process works with their work…. And then we decide." The Fresson family has no plans to expand or franchise their process. They preserve their privacy by staunchly refusing to give out their address.

Each Fresson print requires many hours of work, often spread over several days. The process is so painstaking that the studio limits its production to fewer than two thousand prints per year. The exact procedure is a closely-held family secret, but this is a general description:

The original artwork is reproduced on at least four separate transparencies (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), and sometimes as many as seven are created. To create the print, a separate exposure is made for each color-separation transparency, onto a fiber-based paper using an extremely bright carbon arc lamp. The paper is coated, exposed, developed, and dried four times, once for each color laid down one at a time. Like some other color prints, the emulsion of the Fresson print is gelatin; however, unlike other processes, the Fresson emulsion contains color pigments, not dyes. These pigments are similar to those used in oil paints. During the exposure, the emulsion is hardened in proportion to the amount of light it has received. The print is then developed in a solution of water and sawdust. The water softens the areas of the emulsion not effected by light, and the sawdust acts as a mild abrasive which pulls off surplus gelatin. What remains after the development is the final color image.

This image is extremely stable, consisting of only gelatin and oil pigment on pure rag paper. The Fresson print is considered to be the most archival of any color procedure in use today.

This photographic printing process using coal makes it possible to obtain paper prints that do not deteriorate in light and which have a very special luminosity and grain. The well-known photographers Batho, Horvat, Tourdjman and Faucon discuss this printing process. Bernard Faucon takes a photograph of one of the Lubéron hills, which then reappears in the Fresson studio. Michel Fresson uses this photograph and the subsequent laboratory work on it to comment on and explain the originality and history of the process which was developed by his grandfather and adapted by his father for color printing. Bernard Plossu, again using the Fresson method, traces a black and white print back in time to the moment that the photograph was taken. The key factors that induce many artists to associate their work with the renown and quality of the Fresson tradition are the technical and artistic possibilities which this process offers.
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