YOSEMITE FALLS, 2012
Now on view at the Danziger Gallery in New York City are the photographs of Ian Ruhter, extraordinary large scale images of the American West. Ruhter’s photographs are a tribute to the great 19th century American landscape photographers, created as tintypes, a method of printing popular in the late 1800’s where the photograph is developed directly onto a thin sheet of metal. Ruhter’s images, at 48 x 60” however, are on a scale inconceivable in their time.
Five years ago, Ruhter began to experiment with the tintype process, which involves pouring a liquid mixture of iodides, bromides, and a solution called collodion over a glass or aluminum plate. The plate is then bathed in silver nitrate, making it light sensitive. It must be quickly exposed and developed in just a few minutes, before the collodion dries and loses sensitivity.
MONUMENT VALLEY, MY DARLING CLEMENTIME, 2013
(THE IMAGES IN THE MONUMENT VALLEY SERIES ARE NAMED AFTER JOHN WAYNE MOVIES)
Traditionally tintypes are very small, but Ruhter, obsessed with exploring the process, has pushed its boundaries. To create the size of tintypes he envisioned, Ruhter converted a delivery van into a giant mobile camera and traveling darkroom. The process is laborious and extremely unpredictable, however, the one-of-a-kind images that result are both ethereal and incredibly detailed, with rich layers of silver that create an almost three dimensional effect. Because the process is produced and controlled entirely by hand, each plate is inherently unique, with the chemicals’ process leaving irregular and ghostly shadows, halos, and ripples in each plate.
CASCADE LAKE, 2013
Ruhter blends old and new technologies to create powerful and resonant artworks. On display are images of Yosemite, Monument Valley, and Tahoe, which is where he lives. Both the tintypes and same scale archival pigment prints made from these plates are available. The video below tells the story of Ruhter’s creative process.
Also being shown at Danziger Gallery are selected works by some of Ruhter’s well known peers – Matthew Brandt, Michael Light, Andrew Moore, Jim Krantz, and David Benjamin Sherry – all of whom have helped re-imagine and re-invigorate the Western pictorial tradition. The show can be seen through December 19. Danziger Gallery is located at 521 West 23rd st.