The History of P4Photography II

Body-mouth | portrait, by Agostinho Gonçalves*
Photography arose in 1839 as a menace to painting and painters, and portrait — as if confirming the (unfounded) fears — was the first victim of the new invention. Following the daguerreotype period, with its beautiful but labor-intensive and expensive specimens, the negative-positive process and the albumen prints opened new perspectives and lead to the massification of the photographic portraiture.

After being patented by Disdéri (1819-1899) in 1854, the carte de visite — a small and thin albumen print mounted on a paper card sized 10×6.5 cm — soon became fashionable in Europe and in the United States, and by the early 1860s its popularity was enormous. The cabinet — similar to cartes de visite , but larger — continued this tradition in the 1870s, but Kodak and the democratization of the photographic process has put an end to the classical portrait (although some 20th century photographers, like Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), for instance, revived and mastered this tradition).

Those early portraits share some distinguishable signs: the armrest, the curtains, the stiff pose. 183 years after Joseph Niépce (1765-1833) successfully captured and fixed the first photo, Agostinho Gonçalves goes back to one of photography’s primordial themes and questions which elements must have an image so that we may call it a portrait .

*This exhibition was held at P4Photography from from March 25th 2006 to April 25th 2006.

Carlos Miguel Fernandes

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