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Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing

The Forms of Nameless Things

Experimental Photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot

This collection features twenty-four of Fox Talbot’s most experimental photographs.
William Henry Fox Talbot, the English inventor of photography, created around 15,000 photographs in the nineteenth century, most of them attempts to produce compelling scientific documents or pictorial records of the world around him. However, among his surviving works are also prints in which an image has been obscured, obliterated, or simply failed to register. All that remains on these pieces of photographic paper are chemical stains or imprinted patterns or shapes.

Borrowing its intriguing title from a poem written by Talbot, this book features twenty-four of these prints, originally intended as test prints or creative exercises. Offered to the reader as enigmatic physical artifacts, these failed or ruined photographs are here reanimated as objects of beauty, mystery, and promise, as artworks that speak of photography’s most fundamental attributes and potentials.

An accompanying essay places these photographs in a broad historical context, revealing what relevance they have to the contemporary art of photography.

80 pages | 32 color plates | 9 1/4 x 10 1/4

Art: Photography

History: British and Irish History

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Table of Contents


Further Reading
Picture Credits

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