Prints of Eliot Porter, Pioneer Nature Photographer
A spot of lichen . . . or a grove of trees
YONKERS , NY . January 8, 2007 — One of the most renowned nature photographers of the 20 th century, Eliot Porter (1901-1990) was a pioneer in the use of color for fine-art color photography. Ten photographs by Porter from Trees, a portfolio of his prints dating from 1958-1975, are on view at the Hudson River Museum from February 1 through May 13, 2007.
Though early attention was paid to Eliot Porter’s black-and-white photographs of the Maine coast, it was his desire to print nature scenes and bird photographs that showed the photographer the need for true color printing. With infinite patience and attention to detail, Porter schooled himself to become a master of the laborious dye-transfer process. This method allowed Porter to control the final appearance of his prints and produce the rich, intense coloration that is a hallmark of his exquisite work.
In the early 60s, Porter’s work attracted the attention of Sierra Club that published his series of photographs, The Seasons, under the title In Wildness is the Preservation of the World. Porter’s forest views paired with quotes from Henry David Thoreau, ensured his fame and continued demand for his work.
Beside color, Porter’s landscape photography is set apart by detail of the landscape. Rather than focus on scenic panoramas, Porter put himself and his camera right in the undergrowth to reveal the wonder in a narrow slice of nature. In fact, the scenes in the Trees portfolio show many of Porter’s photographs that are vertical formats of nature, rather than the more typical panorama view.
The relationships that are all-important for me in nature photography are best iillustrated in my close studies. Close is a relative term; it may refer to a spot of lichen or … a grove of trees. But in either case the photograph is an abstraction of nature — a fragment from a greater implied whole, missed but imagined, a connection which assists in holding the viewer’s attention. (Eliot Porter).
Though color printing moved to the much easier Kodak Ektacolor printing method, today Porter’s archive is a prominent fixture of the Amon Carter Museum collection in Texas and current scholars realize that his true significance cannot be overstated.
The Hudson River Museum is located at 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers NY. minutes from the Saw Mill River Parkway, exit 9, north or southbound.
Information and directions: 914.963.4550 and www.hrm.org.
Museum admission: Adults $5; Seniors 62 & older and children 5-16 $3. Fridays 5 to 8 pm to galleries and the planetarium free