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Peter Freeman, Inc., in collaboration with Olivier Renaud-Clément, presents Back Grounds: Impressions Photographiques IV, the last in a series of four exhibitions constructed around five rare paper negatives that Baron Adolphe Humbert de Molard (1800 - 1874) made at and nearby William the Conquerer’s Chateau de Falaise, in 1847 in the region of Normandy, France. Humbert de Molard’s pioneering experimentations with photography, executed at the time of the medium’s invention, ventured into unprecedented abstraction. One of the first French practitioners of the calotype process – an early photographic technique introducing the principle of positive and negative space, in which negatives were made using paper coated with silver iodide – de Molard experimented with toning baths and chemical washes, adding dramatic flair to images of the battlements and rocky outcroppings of the Falaise castle. The images with their golden hues and unique visual effects function as both art and as artifacts of a developing technique. They provide a historical precedent for modern-day conceptual, process-based photography and a context for contemporary responses exploring methodology, intention, and the act of looking.

Participating artists in the exhibition include Liz Deschenes and James Welling, who have been involved in every iteration since the series’ inception. Sherrie Levine and Martin d’Orgeval are contributing for the second time and have made new works specifically for this exhibition. Helen Mirra and Matt Mullican are participating for the first time.

“What had always fascinated me with these negatives was the sense and idea of a walk towards such a glorious and enigmatic subject (here the castle of William the Conqueror) and the progression towards an increasingly more abstract treatment, inducing accidental, unforeseen results – a rare freedom for such an early practice – making it a modern practice.”

– Olivier Renaud-Clément

Olivier Renaud-Clément dedicates this exhibition to Philip Nelson, with whom he organized the first presentation in Paris in 2002. Subsequent iterations of it took place at Andrew Kreps Gallery, 2003, and at Andrea Rosen Gallery, 2014.

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