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Thread: Why prints so small ?

  1. #1
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Why prints so small ?

    I am currently reading the Kertesz catalog from NGA/Princeton, and I noticed many plates are reproduced tiny (think 2 inches across) on a large blank page, with many more 4x6 or less. Those include some of his well-known images that I had seen before reproduced at a more decent size. Looking at the exhibition checklist, it appears that those are the sizes of the exhibition prints. I assume there is some value in using what are probably vintage prints, but wouldn't Kertesz be better served by larger prints ? From the text, it appears that Kertesz often used enlargers (unlike some large format photographers). Why would curators insist on prints so small as to be barely legible ? Why would Kertesz make them that way in the first place ?

  2. #2

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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    I think you have to assume that he made them that small because he liked them that way. Given that he decided to show his work so small, it would make sense for the book to represent them that way. I know he did some work with polaroid and it seems he did some of his work on a 6x6 camera. Perhaps he wanted the quality of contact prints.
    Dennis

  3. #3

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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    I've always presumed that the tiny prints were made as proofs at a time when he didn't have enlarger facilities available to him.
    Except in a historical context, it seems to me rather arrogant to present them without also showing more typical sized reproductions, (however the terms "arrogant" and "Kertesz" are not completely unknown to each other in the literature).
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  4. #4
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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    maybe it was a collection of his early work ?
    they were contact prints from really small negatives ...
    a book came out a few years ago ( 2005 ) called André Kertész: The Early Years
    and all the images in the book were small like you describe
    and from i remember the editors said they wanted to keep the images
    small, not enlarged because that is the way they originally were ...
    (or something like that )

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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    "art" acoording to somebody
    "emporer's new clothes" ??

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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    Dunno whether the wrong way I spelled it fits better than the right way or not

  7. #7

    Re: Why prints so small ?

    My books are packed for a move and I can't get to them right now but I think you are seeing contact prints, at least in some cases. Kertesz's early work was with an Ica 6x9/6x45 camera that took sheet film. Through his career he used other formats but I'd think that following on from his beginnings that small prints would have been one way for him to show us his work.

    I know that I've made small prints from 35mm, 6x6, 6x7 that are quite pleasing. There's something about a hand size print that can be seen as jewel-like and is very charming. I have a couple of David Vestal's small prints he used to send out that are good examples.

    I'm not sure who decided that prints had to be big to be good? I am pretty sure they're wrong.

  8. #8

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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Ambrose View Post
    I'm not sure who decided that prints had to be big to be good? I am pretty sure they're wrong.
    I sure agree with you on this. In other times the way of evaluating photographs was to hold them in your hand and look at them. If you do this you can appreciate the quality of the image, even if it is very small, and especially a contact print that has a lot of detail. It was a much more intimate way of looking at an enjoying photographs.

    Nowdays the size of print appears geared toward placement in large banks and exhibitions halls. My personal opinion is that any print larger than 20X24 is fairly obscene.

    Good part is that all this large trash will be destroyed within a few decades because it will be too expensive to store.

    Sandy King

  9. #9

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    Re: Why prints so small ?

    The Getty Museum had a Kertesz show in the last 2 years or so, and many of the prints were as you describe, very small contact prints. I was surprised by them but they were beautiful nonetheless. There may be some info on the show still online in their archives...

  10. #10

    Re: Why prints so small ?

    I've seen the show André Kertész: The Early Years and the prints were tiny - BUT, nontheless beautifull and very subtle. Photography is a means of reproduction, yes. But seeing the originals (or a very good printed book with preferable prints in original size) is a true experience and you start to understand the intentions much better.

    there is always the option of buing one of these cheap Taschen books. lots of blown-up photos...

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