The retoucher’s accidental art

Rick Poynor

The reworked press photos now being discarded are unique objects and compellingly strange images. Raynal Pellicer has a collection.

One of the most striking exhibitions at Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in 2013 occupied a room where the walls were painted a startling Yves Klein blue. This vibrant backdrop gave more than 100 old black-and-white press photographs an eerie, intensified presence. These were not regular, smooth-surfaced photographic prints. Each picture was covered with reframing marks, blocks of dark paint to eliminate the background, and instructions to the printer daubed in crayon and ink …

Brenda Marshall photographed by George Hurrell to promote The Sea Hawk (1940), directed by Michael Curtiz. Publisher unknown.
Top: Humphrey Bogart after retouching. A Columbia Pictures promotional photo by Robert Wallace Coburn for the courtroom drama Knock on Any Door (1949), directed by Nicholas Ray.


Rick Poynor, writer, Eye founder, London

Read the full version in Eye no. 88 vol. 22 2014


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