Prescient Precedent

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New technologies always lend themselves to personal and artistic expression and a new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives 1840-1860, illustrates how technology and the artistic impulse have gone hand in hand for well over 100 years. The invention of the calotype in 1941 not only allowed photographers to use readily available fine writing paper to make multiple prints, but also made photography more accessible to a broader population. The particular qualities of the paper negative (softening of details and ethereal light and shadow) lent themselves perfectly to the picturesque tendencies of the time