Saturday, January 9, 2010


Kühn, Heinrich(1866-1944), German photographer and scientist, born in Dresden. He studied science and medicine in Leipzig and Freiburg, and mastered microphotography in Berlin. After settling in Innsbruck in 1888 he did cell and tissue research and interested himself in applied photo-chemistry and-physics. From 1891 he worked intensively on optics. In 1896 he joined the Vienna Camera Club and with Hugo Henneberg and Hans Watzek (1848-1903) formed the so-called ‘Vienna Trifolium’. The three of them travelled to Italy, Germany, and Holland and distributed their work as gum prints, to considerable international acclaim. Kühn specialized in portraits and landscapes. In 1904 a visit from Stieglitz in Innsbruck led to an extensive correspondence that lasted until 1931. In July 1907 he met Stieglitz, Steichen and Frank Eugene at Tutzing in Bavaria, where the four of them tried out the new autochrome process. Kühn's subsequent experiments with autochrome were influenced both by Helmholtz's theories of human vision (e.g. differential focus) and, initially, by ideas about the expressive and symbolic properties of colour prevalent among the artistic avant-garde; later, he moved towards ‘straight’ photography as objective record. In 1914-15 Kühn ran a photoschool in Innsbruck, and in the 1920s dedicated himself mainly to writing and to experiments in photographic technology. Of his c.260 surviving autochrome plates, 213 are in the Austrian National Library. Kühn's letters to Stieglitz are at Yale University.