Martha Madigan

Bamboo with Orchids

From the series "Botanical Portrait"

(Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1950 - )


archival pigment print from a solar photogram paper

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Gift of the artist and Jeffrey Fuller Fine Art, Philadelphia


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This single image compresses the history of photography from the earliest type of photographic print—the photogram—to cutting-edge digital technology. Madigan started by making a photogram, a cameraless photograph that results in life-size images. She placed objects (stalks of bamboo) on a 6-foot tall piece of photo-sensitized paper and exposed it to the sun. Once the paper was chemically processed, areas where an opaque object blocked the light appeared white; semi-transparent objects yielded gray tones. The artist then brought the photogram to a lab with a special digital camera that can scan very large objects. She placed orchids atop the photogram and had it scanned. Back in her studio, Madigan produced this color inkjet print from the digital data.