Print

About Luis Nadeau

Luis Nadeau became involved in the archival aspects of photography in the early 1970s.[i] Coming from a background in conventional photography, he took a course in the then new field of conservation and restoration of photographic materials, offered by the Visual Studies Workshops in collaboration with the George Eastman House, in Rochester, New York, U.S.A.

VSW, Rochester, 1974. Perhaps the earliest formal course that offered university credits on the conservation of photographic materials. The man on the right holding a camera is Henry Wilhelm www.wilhelm-research.com/ who attended part of the programme. © 1974 by Luis Nadeau VSW, Rochester, 1974. Perhaps the earliest formal course that offered university credits on the conservation of photographic materials. The man on the right holding a camera is Henry Wilhelm www.wilhelm-research.com/ who attended part of the programme. © 1974 by Luis Nadeau

Rochester was a turning point for Nadeau, who quickly realized that the fields of conservation and restoration of photographic materials were in their infancy. The formal academic programs were not sufficient and only those comfortable with foreign languages and an autodidactic approach could eventually contribute to the advancement of this new discipline. This suited him perfectly. Born with an insatiable curiosity and unquenchable thirst for knowledge, he used to read over four hundred books a year, year after year.

During the 1970s he repeatedly went to Europe, researching in patent offices, museums, national libraries and the still mostly intact Alphonse Poitevin research laboratory, rue Saint-Jacques, in Paris. From 1976 to 1979 he was also the official Canadian delegate of NAPA (National Association for Photographic Art –now CAPA)[ii] at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie (RIP)[iii] in Arles in the south of France, and was a regular contributor to its quarterly, Camera Canada, then edited by well-known Canadian photographer, Freeman Patterson.

 

Ansel Adams in Arles, France. © 1976 by Luis Nadeau. Ansel Adams in Arles, France. © 1976 by Luis Nadeau.

The press privileges included access to all conferences, workshops and social events in Arles. He became personally acquainted with Ansel Adams, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Paul Caponigro, Lucien Clergue, Ernst Haas, Helmut Gernsheim, Ralph Gibson, Jean-Claude Lemagny, and many other prominent historians and photographers.

Beginning in the late 1970s and 1980s he was teaching workshops on early photographic processes at the Maine Photographic Workshops, in Rockport, Maine and elsewhere in North America.[iv]

While researching the history of photographic technologies, he turned his attention to the so-called “permanent” or “archival” processes. Such printing processes do not make use of silver or dyes that would tarnish or fade. This research unveiled the Holy Grail of photographic printing: the Fresson process. The procedure, worked out in France at the end of the nineteenth century, belongs to the dichromated colloid group, originally discovered by Alphonse Poitevin in 1855. A mixture of a colloid, pigment and dichromate compound creates a light-sensitive emulsion. After exposure under a negative the non-exposed parts of the emulsion are relatively soluble and can be removed with a slight abrasive. This is usually done by pouring a mixture of sawdust and water over the pigmented (dark) print until the desired density is achieved.[v] See the Fresson entry in the photographic gallery of the Museum.

The process provides extensive control, as development occurs slowly in bright light and the finished prints have a unique matt look that was very popular among pictorialists. In 1951 the process was adapted to four-color printing and to this day remains the only method of producing real photographs[vi] in permanent colors on a commercial basis.[vii]

José Ortiz Echagüe demonstrating Fresson development in Madrid. © 1979 by Luis Nadeau. José Ortiz Echagüe demonstrating Fresson development in Madrid. © 1979 by Luis Nadeau.

In recent times, artists such as Frank Horvat, Bernard Plossu, Sheila Metzner, and Sarah Moon have had their work finished in Fresson. The best known exponent of the process, however, was the late José Ortiz Echagüe (1886-1980) whose fabulus work can be seen in major museums, including that of the Royal Photographic Society in the U.K. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.[viii][ix] In 1966, Ortiz Echagüe, who was a wealthy Spanish industrialist, managed to purchase the secret Fresson formulas and coating equipment from a rogue Fresson family member who was giving up the commercial production of paper for health reasons. After years of difficult and sometimes tumultuous negotiations in France and Spain, Nadeau stunned the photography world [x] in 1979 by bringing the Fresson formulas and equipment to Canada.

Nadeau’s research has appeared in hundreds of books, journals, and web sites. [xi][xii] He has also done consulting, lectured and trained the staff of well known institutions from 13 countries. These include the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, the MET in New York City, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Musée du Louvre and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (where he hosted the first international meeting on photo-alternative processes, in May 1996), the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, the Benaki Museum in Greece, the International Center of Photography in New York City, the Museum of Science at Oxford, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, the Getty Research Institute, the University of Texas, etc.

Left to right: historian Stephen Joseph, Janet Bradley and Luis Nadeau after his lecture at the Louvre, Nov. 30, 2002. Photo by Guy de Riencourt. Left to right: historian Stephen Joseph, Janet Bradley and Luis Nadeau after his lecture at the Louvre, Nov. 30, 2002. Photo by Guy de Riencourt.
Luis Nadeau, left, entertaining Dusan Stulik (Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles) and Bertrand Lavédrine (Centre de recherches sur la conservation des documents graphiques, Paris) in New Brunswick, Canada, July 2002. Photo by Janet Bradley. Luis Nadeau, left, entertaining Dusan Stulik (Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles) and Bertrand Lavédrine (Centre de recherches sur la conservation des documents graphiques, Paris) in New Brunswick, Canada, July 2002. Photo by Janet Bradley.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, he cancelled a lecture that was to take place at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Conservation, in New York City. Missing such an opportunity, he then created what has become the very successful PHOTOCONSERVATION mailing list:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/photoconservation/info.  The who’s who of the conservation world subscribe to this list, now with more than 950 participants.


Michael C. Lawlor

http://www.mclawlor.ca/

 

[i] Michael C. Lawlor: “Luis Nadeau, an encyclopedia of photographic techniques.” Blackflash, Vol. 6, No. 4, Winter 1988, pp. 4, 17, 18.

[ii] www.capacanada.ca/

[iii] www.rencontres-arles.com/

[iv] www.theworkshops.com/

[v] The processing (not the coating procedure and formulas) of Fresson paper is detailed in Luis Nadeau’s History and Practice of Carbon Processes, 1982, pp. 53-62.

[vi] Real photographs as opposed to photomechanical reproductions like offset or inkjet (aquagravure, giclée, etc.) printing.

[vii] Nadeau never used the color version of the Fresson process. The descendants of the inventor are still using it in France. www.atelier-fresson.com/

[viii] www.apogeephoto.com/mag7-6/ortiz_echague.shtml

ix] www.unav.es/fff/paginasinternas/ortizechague/default.html

[x] Christina Sabat, a journalist who interviewed Nadeau on the acquisition of the Fresson process wrote: “It is a dramatic tale which has all the ingredients for a successful mystery thriller including drama, intrigue, suspense and the involvement of prominent and wealthy personages.” The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, NB (May 24, 1980), p. 5. Indeed, by the time the transaction was finalized, it had directly involved a large number of people in four countries. Also, Karol Schweiger: “Looking for Luis Nadeau,” Arts Atlantic 2 no 1 (Spring 1979) pp. 30-33.

 

[xi] MONOGRAPHS by Luis Nadeau:

History and Practice of Carbon Processes, (1982).

History and Practice of Platinum Printing, (1984, revised in 1986 and 1994).

Geschichte und Praxis des Platindrucks, Lindemanns Verlag, Stuttgart (1993).

History and Practice of Oil and Bromoil Printing, (1985).

Geschichte und Praxis des Ol- und Bromoldrucks, Lindemanns Verlag, Stuttgart (1992).

Modern Carbon Printing, (1986).

Gum Dichromate and Other Direct Carbon Processes, (1987).

Encyclopedia of Printing, Photographic and Photomechanical Processes, 2 vols., (1989-1990); second edition, 2011.

-----

The above publications have been reviewed in (partial list):

PhotographiConservation, (Rochester Institute of Technology), Vol. 4, No. 4, Dec. 1982, p. 2. [HPCP]
Popular Photography, New York, Vol. 90, No. 11, Nov. 1983, p. 138. [HPCP]
British Journal of Photography, London, Henry Greenwood & Co., Vol. 130, 1983, p. 543. [HPCP]
Popular Photography, New York, Vol. 92, No. 4, April 1985, pp. 86, 91. [HPPP]
The Photograph Collector, New York, Vol. 3, No. 12, Dec. 15th 1982. [HPCP]
The Photograph Collector, New York, Sept. 1987. [HPPP, 2nd. ed.]
History of Photography, London, Taylor & Francis, Vol. 9, No. 3, Jul/Sept. 1985, p. 256. [HPPP]
History of Photography, London, Taylor & Francis, Jan. 1987. [HPOBP]
The Photograph Collector, New York, Vol. 6, No. 8-9, Sept. 15, 1985, p. 5. [HPPP]
The Photograph Collector, New York, Vol. 7, No. 8-9, Sept. 15, 1986, p. 7. [HPOBP]
Darkroom Photography, San Francisco, Vol. 7, No. 7, Nov. 1985, p. 10. [HPCP, HPPP]
Edele Procédés, Amsterdam, 1985, p. 40. [HPCP]
Fotonyheterna, Sweden, No. 4, May 1985, pp. 6, etc. [HPCP, HPPP]
Creative Camera, London, March 1987. [HPCP, HPPP, HPOBP]
Modern Photography, New York, Vol. 51, No. 9, Sept. 1987, p. 75. [HPCP, HPPP]
Printing Historical Society Bulletin, London, Issues 27-38, 1990, pp. 20, 24. [EPPPP]
The Print Collector's Newsletter, New York, Volume 22, 1991, p. 53. [EPPPP]

In progress:

Guide to the Identification of Prints, Photographs and Documents.

A Review of the Penrose Annual.

The Art Exemplar Demystified.

 

[xii] ARTICLES by Luis Nadeau include:

“Archival Processing,” Camera Canada, Toronto, Sept. 1976, pp. 36, 38.

“7th International Meeting of Photography,” Camera Canada, Toronto, Dec. 1976, pp. 32, 36, 38, 40, 42.

“On Color Print Processes and Conservation,” Print Letter, No. 8, Zürich, March/April 1977, p. 11.

“Images de Québec,” (Introducing the work of Michel Saint-Jean) Camera Canada, Toronto, No. 35, Dec. 1977, pp. 12, 23, 44.

“8th International Meeting of Photography,” Camera Canada, Toronto, Dec. 1977, pp. 34, 36, 38, 40, 42.

“Restaurer des daguerréotypes,” Prestige de la photographie, Paris, June 1978, pp. 154-156.

“Rephotographier une plaque cassée,” Prestige de la photographie, Paris, Nov. 1978, p. 153.

“Platinotypia,” Progresso Fotografico, Milano, 1978, pp. 22, 27, 65.

“The History of the Fresson Process,” PhotoCommuniqué, Toronto, Vol. 2, No. 1, March/April 1980, pp. 19-21.

“La conservation des photographies,” La Revue d'histoire de la Société Historique Nicholas-Denys, Caraquet (NB.), Vol. 8, No. 1, April 1980, pp. 22-34.

“The Fresson Process,” The Photographic Journal, London, Royal Photographic Society, Vol. 120, No. 7, July/August 1980, p. 299.

Id. Vol. 121, No.7, July 1981, pp. 304-309.

“The Fresson Process,” AVISO, New Pictorialist Society, Santa Cruz, CA, July  1982, pp. 4-12.

“La conservation des photographies,” Photo-Sélection, Québec, Vol. 2, No. 5, Nov./Dec. 1982, pp. 42, 43, 51.

“Notes sur la restauration et la copie des photographies,” Photo-Sélection, Québec, Vol. 2, No. 6, Jan./Feb. 1983, pp. 38, 39.

“Nadeau Letter,” PhotographiConservation, Rochester, (RIT), Vol. 5, No. 1 & 2, March/June 1982, pp. 6-7.

“La Platinotypie,” Photo-Sélection, Québec, Vol. 4, No. 4, Sept./Oct. 1984, pp. 42-47, 51.

“Fresson Revisited,” Darkroom Photography, San Francisco, Vol. 7, No. 7, Nov. 1985, p. 6.

“Els processos d’impressió fotomecànica: història, identificació i conservació,” (in Catalan) Imatge i Recerca, 7es. Jornades Antoni Varés, Nov. 19-22, 2002, Ajuntament de Girona, Spain, pp. 109-120.

“Reproduction processes used in Camera Work, 1903-1917.” In catalogue published on occasion of the exhibition “Camera Work: A Centennial Celebration.” The James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA, Sept. 13 – December 28, 2003. The Photo Review, Vol. 26, Nos 1 & 2, 2003. Stephen Perloff, Curator.

“Pigment processes: Overview and chronologies,” Seminar on Preservation & Management of Photographic Collections, Benaki Museum Postprints, Oct. 3rd-7th 2005, Athens, Greece, pp. 37-42. Also published in Greek.

“Photomechanical Processes: Overview and chronologies,” Seminar on Preservation & Management of Photographic Collections, Benaki Museum Postprints, Oct. 3rd-7th 2005, Athens, Greece, pp. 43-53. Also published in Greek.

 

[xiii] CONTRIBUTOR TO/ QUOTED IN (selected list):

Szilágyi Gábor: A fotómúvészet története, Budapest. 1982.

T. Browne & E. Partnow: Macmillan Biographical Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists & Innovators, New York, Macmillan. 1983.

International Center of Photography's Encyclopedia of Photography, New York, Crown Publishers. 1984.

Geoffrey Crawley: British Journal of Photography Annual 1988, Henry Greenwood. 1987. 

A.V. Simcock: Photography 150: Images from the First Generation, Oxford, Museum of the History of Science. 1989.

S. Carl King: The Photographic Impressionists of Spain: A History of the Aesthetics and Technique of Pictorial Photography, Edwin Mellen Press. 1989.

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, American Library Association, Volumes 5-7. 1990.

The American Archivist, Vol. 5, 1991. 

Klaus B. Hendriks: Fundamentals of Photograph Conservation: a Study Guide, National Archives of Canada, Lugus Productions. 1991.

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, Vol. 7, Association of College and Research Libraries. 1992.

C.B. McArdle, John M. Kelly, Michael J. de F. Maunder: Photochemistry and Polymeric Systems, Royal Society of Chemistry. 1993.

Stroebel & Zakia (Ed.): The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, Third Edition, Focal Press (Butterworths). 1993.

Sherry Byrne; Pamela W. Darling: Collection maintenance and improvement, Association of Research Libraries. 1993.

Toni Petersen (Dir.): Art and Architecture Thesaurus, Oxford University Press. 1994.

Topics in photographic preservation Volumes 6-8, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Photographic Materials Group. 1995.

Sandra Benito; Victoria Blasco: Luz y tiempo: colección fotográfica formada por Manuel Alvarez Bravo para la Fundación Cultural Televisa, A.C., Julio 1995, Fundación cultural televisa (México). 1995.

Juan Carlos Valdez Marín: Manual de conservación fotográfica: guía de identificatión de procesos y conservación, estabilización y restauración de procesos fotográficos de los siglos XIX y XX, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. 1997.

Richard Farber: Historic Photographic Processes, New York, Allworth Press. 1998.

The Journal of imaging science and technology, Volume 42 IS & T –the Society for Imaging Science and Technology. 1998. 

Sylvie Pénichon: “Differences in Image Tonality produced by different toning protocols for matte collodion photographs,” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 38. 1999.

Mike Ware: Cyanotype. The History, Science and Art of Photographic Printing in Prussian Blue, London, Science Museum and National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. 1999.

André Gunthert: La conquête de l'instantané. Archéologie de l'imaginaire photographique en France (1841-1895), (doctoral thesis) Paris, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. 1999.

Barbara J. Rhodes; William W. Streeter: Before Photocopying: The Art & History of Mechanical Copying, 1780-1938, Oak Knoll Press. 1999. 

Pam Roberts: PhotoHistorica: Landmarks in Photography: Rare Images from the Collection of the Royal Photographic Society, Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, Artisan. 2000.

Randall Webb; Martin Reed: Alternative Photographic Processes: a Working Guide for Image Makers, Silver Pixel Press. 2000.

Italo Zannier; Daniela Tartaglia: La fotografia in archivio, Firenze, Sansoni. 2000.

Paul Scott: Ceramics and print, University of Pennsylvania Press; 2nd ed. 2002.

Karen Severud: “The Historical Role of Photomechanical Techniques in Map Production.” Cartography and Geographic Information Science, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2002.

Alan Marshall: Du plomb à la lumière: La Lumitype-Photon et la naissance des industries graphiques modernes, Paris, Editions de la Maison des sciences et de l’homme. 2003. 

David Morrish; Marlene MacCallum: Copper Plate Photogravure: Demystifying the Process, Focal Press. 2003. 

Bertrand Lavédrine; Jean-Paul Gandolfo; Sibylle Monod: A Guide to the Preventive Conservation of Photograph Collections, Getty Conservation Institute. 2003.

Nancy Carlisle; Peter Harholdt: Cherished Possessions: a New England Legacy, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. 2003.

Bernard S. Finn; Robert Bud; Helmuth Trischler: Presenting Pictures, Science Museum (Great Britain). 2004.

David Owen: Copies in Seconds: How a Lone Inventor and an Unknown Company Created the Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg –Chester Carlson and the Birth of the Xerox Machine, Simon & Schuster. 2004.

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Researching your Art. 2004.

C. Gladden (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, San Diego, Academic Press. 2005.

Dick Arentz: Platinum & Palladium Printing, Boston, Elsevier, Focal Press. 2005.

Luiz Monforte: Alegorias Brasileiras, São Paulo, SP, Editora SENAC, Imprensa Oficial. 2005.

P. Fouché: Dictionnaire encyclopédique du livre. Vol. 2 (E-M), Paris, Cercle de la librairie. 2005.

Lynne Warren (Ed.): Encyclopedia of 20th Century Photography, Routledge. 2005.

Tom McNulty: Art Market Research: A Guide to Methods and Sources, Jefferson (NC), McFarland & Co. Pub. 2006. 

Anne Cartier-Bresson (Ed.): Vocabulaire technique de la photographie, Marval, Paris. 2007.

Patricia Carrillo Medrano: Fotografía: Manual de Procesos Alternativos, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 2007. 

J. Hannavy (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, New York, Routledge. 2007.

Laura Blacklow: New Dimensions in Photo Processes: A Step by Step Manual for Alternative Techniques, Burlington (MA), Focal Press. 4th ed. 2007.

Juan Carlos Valdez Marín: Conservación de fotografía histórica y contemporánea: fundamentos y procedimientos, Sistema Nacional de Fototecas (Mexico) Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. 2008.

Christiane Elias: Archivische Anforderungen an alterungsbeständige Schreibstoffe „moderner“ Druckerverfahren, Fachhochschule Potsdam. (Thesis) 2008.

Naomi Rosenblum: A World History of Photography, Abbeville Press. 4th ed. 2008.

Robin Lenman (Ed.): The Oxford Companion to the Photograph, Oxford University Press. 2009.

Eléonore Kissel; Erin Vigneau: Archival Photoreproductions. A Manual for Identification and Care, Oak Knoll; The New York Botanical Garden, 2nd ed. 2009.

Roger Kockaerts; Johan Swinnen: De Kunst van het Fotoarchief. 170 jaar fotografie en erfgoed, Brussels, University Press Antwerp. 2009.

Margarita Mª González Vázquez: Nuevos Procesos de Transferencia Mediante Tóner y su Aplicación al Grabado Calcográfico, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Doctoral thesis), Madrid. 2010.

Gilberto Artioli: Scientific Methods and Cultural Heritage: An Introduction to the Application of Materials Science to Archaeometry and Conservation Science, Oxford University Press. 2010. 

-----

WEB SITE:

Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society 1870-1915