Cooperative of Photography


Blue Prints: The Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins

07.02.2019

Victorian photographer Anna Atkins is currently being celebrated in dual exhibitions at The New York Public Library. Historically, Anna is of great significance as she was one of the first female photographers. Anna used a special blue-printing technique in her photography, called cyanotypes. The book titled, “Photographs of British Algae,” was conceived, printed and published by Anna, combining photography and science. The title of the show is, “Blue Prints: The Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins,” showcasing contemporary works influenced by Anna, along with her own. Exhibited artists include: Roy Arden, Erica Baum, Eric William Carroll, Susan Derges, Liz Deschenes, Kathleen Herbert, Katherine Hubbard, Mona Kuhn, Owen Kydd, María Martínez-Cañas, Meghann Riepenhoff, Alison Rossiter, Ulf Saupe, Lindy Smith, Kunié Sugiura, Penelope Umbrico, Mike Ware, Letha Wilson, Ellen Ziegler.

The library is publishing, in conjunction with the exhibition two books. The first is an expanded edition of Larry J. Schaaf’s Sun Gardens, an in-depth study of Atkins’s work that first established her historical and artistic significance. The other is a facsimile of the Library’s copy of Photographs of British Algae, which is being produced by Steidl Verlag. Blue Prints is co-organized by Joshua Chuang, The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Associate Director for Art, Prints and Photographs, and The Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography and Larry J. Schaaf, independent scholar, with Emily Walz, Librarian, Art and Architecture
Anna Atkins Refracted is co-curated by Joshua Chuang, The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Associate Director for Art, Prints and Photographs, and The Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography and Elizabeth Cronin, Assistant Curator of Photography.

Anna Atkins COOPH 001

Anna Atkins (1799–1871) and Anne Dixon (1799–1864), Papaver rhoeas, from a
presentation album to Henry Dixon, 1861, cyanotype. Private collection, courtesy of Hans P. Kraus Jr., New York.

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Anna Atkins (1799–1871) and Anne Dixon (1799–1864), Peacock, from a presentation album to Henry Dixon, 1861, cyanotype. Private collection, courtesy of Hans P. Kraus Jr., New York.

Anna Atkins COOPH 003

Anna Atkins (1799–1871), Dictyota dichotoma, in the young state & in fruit, from Part XI of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, 1849-1850, cyanotype. Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.


Anna Atkins COOPH 004

Anna Atkins (1799–1871), Furcellaria fastigiata, from Part IV, version 2 of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, 1846 or later, cyanotype. Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Anna Atkins COOPH 005

Anna Atkins (1799–1871), Halyseris polypodioides, from Part XII of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, 1849-1850, cyanotype. Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

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Anna Atkins COOPH 008

The exhibition is currently being held at the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, in the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery.

For more information check here. An online NYPL archive of the book can be seen here.


Written by Rowynn Dumont


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