I love turn of the century sepia-tone photographic prints mounted on cardboard frames, known as “cabinet cards,” usually printed or embossed with ornately designed, typographic signatures or trademarks of the photography studio. Sure they are quaint, but they are also frozen moments of time, place and technology. The artist Alex Gross sees these artifacts as a canvas for his his visual musings. His latest book Now and Then, The Cabinet Card Paintings of Alex Gross (Ginko Press), compiles 98 mixed media paintings all but obliterating the original antique cabinet card photographs (except for the 19th century faces), done over the last four years. In addition to a short introduction, the book also features 32 images of cards before they were painted upon.
Painting or pasting elements over photos, especially old photos, is not new. But Gross’s approach is delightfully unique. His characterizations – from weird space men to the Bride of Frankenstein – are painted in vibrant color, leaving just the faces as the photographer took them.
Its cosmic to think that these long deceased people are now painted as things they would never have imagined. If you believe, as some do, that the disembodied spirits of the dead reside in their photographs, then you got to wonder what they’re thinking of Gross’s work.
Order your copy here. At a little over $10 its a bargain at half the price.