Since March 2017, I've been working on a digitisation initiative at The Courtauld Institute in London manning the camera, using computer software to manage metadata, transcribing ledger books, and re-organizing the thousands of photos that make up the Conway, Kersting, and Laib collections. Camera, Obscured: The Fine Art Photography of Paul Laib was the first exhibition to come out of that project.
I wrote about Fine Art Photographers vs. Fine Art photographers, good stationery,
and the research process behind the exhibit for The Courtauld's Digital Media blog.
Paul Laib moved to London from Hamburg at the turn of the twentieth century. For the next fifty years he offered his services to artists as a fine art photographer, working mainly from his South Kensington studio. At times his photographs depict unfinished work amongst studio tools and traces of home life. Sometimes the makers themselves appear. In other shots, neatly framed artworks serve as “photographic reproductions” in which we may not notice the presence of photography at all.
Using archival materials and prints from the De Laszlo Collection of Paul Laib negatives, this exhibition highlights the multifaceted relationship between photography, painting, sculpture, and their practitioners. Through the lens of Laib’s niche vocation as contractor and creative in London’s artistic communities, we see that an image of an artwork can take many forms.