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Fresson - Quadrichromie

(Fr.: quadrichromie Fresson)

A FOUR-COLOR adaptation of the original FRESSON process, introduced by Frenchman Pierre Fresson in 1951. After the paper has received a first layer of a dichromated colloid containing a cyan pigment, it is dried and exposed under the red separation negative obtained from a TRANSPARENCY. After exposure and processing by abrasion (with a water-sawdust solution) which leaves the cyan component of the image on the paper, it is dried and coated with the next color, yellow, on which the blue separation negative has to be visually registered and printed by enlargement. The operation is repeated with the green separation negative on the magenta color, but the combination of those three colors is relatively opaque and leaves a dull print with weak blacks. To remedy this a fourth color, black, has to be coated and printed to provide a reasonable amount of contrast. This is the same approach used in the photomechanical printing industry.

The process has serious drawbacks that make realistic rendering of a transparency impossible. These include poor repeatability, poor registration due to the wetting-drying of the paper, muted, unsaturated colors due to lack of masking and wrong order of the colors in their assembly, low D max (maximum density) for the same reason, graininess from the use of a point source light (carbon arc) to enlarge small, contact size silver gelatin separations, which also require extensive retouching and make masking impossible, etc. Not all images are suited for this process, but abstracts and fashion photographs of photographers like Sarah Moon, Sheila Metzner, and the late Jean-Paul Merzagora, have often proved effective.

The process has attracted a considerable amount of attention because of its unusual rendering of color scenes, excellent permanence of the color pigments used, and a certain mystique maintained because of its lack of availability and the secrecy surrounding the actual manufacture of the paper.

The large majority of PERMANENT color photographs made since 1951 have been made by this Fresson process, and a much smaller proportion have been made in THREE-COLOR CARBON, and three or four-color GUM. In the early 1980s the Fresson lab in France produced some 500 monochrome and 2,000 color PRINTS a year. Because of the above described drawbacks inherent to the process, Atelier Luis Nadeau in Canada, the only other lab in the world that owns the process, has never produced quadrichromies, giving preference to the three-color CARBON process for color work. (Nadeau, Encyclopedia, p. xxx).

Progressive Fresson proofs

Image © Luis Nadeau 1980
Fresson Quadrichromie - Cyan

Cyan

Fresson Quadrichromie - Cyan + Yellow Fresson Quadrichromie - Cyan + Yellow

Cyan + Yellow

Cyan + Yellow + Magenta Fresson Quadrichromie - Cyan + Yellow + Magenta

Cyan + Yellow + Magenta

Fresson Quadrichromie - Cyan + Yellow + Magenta + Black Fresson Quadrichromie - Cyan + Yellow + Magenta + Black

Cyan + Yellow + Magenta + Black