Walt Goettman’s photogravure layers of urban life

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Walt Goettman
by Walt Goettman, one of his copperplate photogravure printed images; once again, my own images are foiled by glass reflections, adding still another layer to Goettman’s own photos of reflections in glass. Sorry.

The old technique that photographer Walt Goettman plies makes the ordinary modern world into a layered magic.

In an exhibit of more than two dozen 9×9 photograph-based images at the University City Arts League until Feb. 3, Goettman uses an inky printing process to bring out the layered experience of walking down a city street, taking in the reflections and what’s behind the reflections and capturing the multiplicity of tastes and eras of the urban world. (A couple of his images can be seen–with no extra reflections–online here and here).

Walt Goettman

Many of these prints, look like palimpsests, but really they are the layers that the photograph captures re-emphasized by the technique. The result is often beautiful and mysterious. The blacks are rich. The patterns are juicy. Even walls come across as something worth close observation.

Walt Goettman

The graffiti-etched and grimy surfaces of plate glass windows become subjects for Goettman along with the shadowy old window decorations behind the glass obstruction. The elegant pattern of bricks behind the tacky grid of a standing billboard also have a conversation in Goettman’s work.

It’s that honesty of what the eye sees–and sees right past–that give these photos their pulse. And it’s the process that reinterprets that pulse, placing it into an older time’s context, making it look fresh as the ink.

Tags

university city arts league, walt goettman

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