Richard Benson

A Facebook post by Dayanita Singh who I mentioned in the previous post and which was reposted to me by curator Peggy Sue Amison reminded me of a fine site by Richard Benson, The Printed Picture, which I’d not looked at for some years. Indeed there is much on the site I’ve never looked at all as the entire talk by him on it takes 8 hours, but is fortunately split into short digestible sections such as ‘Black and White Inkjet Printing‘. Text and some examples accompany each of these short videos. It isn’t  a ‘how-to guide’ and some of the technical details are rather vague, but it is a grand overview of everything to do with printing images from marks on cave walls to modern times. Be warned it is an addictive site and you may find – like me – you spend more time on it than you really have.

The text on the site comes from the book, The Printed Picture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008 and still apparently available from the MoMA store – though cheaper elsewhere) and an exhibition of the same name at The Museum of Modern Art in 2008-9, so is not completely up to date with the latest developments in ink-jet printing.

Richard Benson started as a printer which led him to take an interest in photography, and as his biography at the Pace/MacGill Gallery (where you can also see his photographs) states “has been instrumental in revolutionizing the technologies and standards for photographic reproduction in ink“. Among many fine works that have benefited from his expertise are over a dozen Lee Friedlander monographs and the monumental ‘The Work of Atget‘, 4 superbly produced volumes published by MoMA in 1981-5. But almost every finely reproduced photographic book in the last 40 or more years owes something either first or second-hand to his work. You can read an interview with him by John Paul Caponigro, first published in 1997 in View Camera magazine on Caponigro’s site.

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