The Pictorialism Movement in photography housed many famous figures and pioneers, but some central figures have been excluded by contemporary art. Hence, we bring you one of the most important forgotten Pictorialists in Europe, named Heinrich Kühn. Kühn was a popular 20th-century Austrian-German photographer, whose impressionistic style relied much more on printing images rather than capturing them.
According to the Europeana Collections, Kuhn’s photography was akin to the popular the 19th-century painting movement, Impressionism: ”His photographs closely resemble impressionist paintings, with their frequent use of soft lighting and focus. Kühn was part of the pictorialist photographic movement. He mainly used the gum bichromate technique, applied in several layers, and thus allowing for previously unseen color tonalities.”
The bichromate technique, which is a combination of using gum bichromate and photogravure, was also known as the Gummuigravüre, and was invented by Kühn in 1911. He also developed the Leimdruck technique, which involved the use of animal glue (colloid) to produce similar-looking gum prints. Another technique he invented is the forgotten Syngraphie, which uses two negatives with differing light sensitivity to produce a wider range of tonality.
These processes by Kühn allowed him to freely navigate his way in stylized photography: being able to further adjust his images that others at the time.
Kühn also used Autochrome, an early color photography process, when it first appeared in 1907. For Kühn, Autochromes were like ”ethereal dreams of childhood, full of vaulted sunny skies and giddy perspectives, as gloriously cathartic as they are emotionally charged”. Many of his photographs are in the form of portraitists, but Kühn also captured ordinary life. Here are some more photographs taken by Kühn, kept in the public archives:
If ever you’re about to experiment with the gummuigravüre or syngraphie, don’t forget to upload your alternative prints on your “LomoHome”:https://www.lomography.com/homes/.