Current Exhibition:
David Sokosh: American Tintypes

March 6, 2014 - May 31, 2014

Hours: Tues - Sat 11–5:30 pm & by appointment
First Thursdays of the month open until 7:30pm

Contact:   415-781-1122   •
49 Geary Street • Suite 410 • San Francisco, CA 94108

View photographs from our inventory by clicking on these galleries:

David Sokosh: American Tintypes

March 6, 2014 - May 31, 2014

An exhibition of unique, original photographs -- each created in-camera
using the 19th century wet-plate collodion process.


Sizes and Pricing

Robert Tat Gallery is proud to present the first San Francisco showing of David Sokosh’s American Tintypes. All photographs in the exhibition are unique originals, each created separately in camera using the 19th century Wet-Plate Collodion process. There are no negatives, no prints or editions. Each photograph is one of a kind, presented in a period antique frame.

In an era of digital photography and mural-sized color enlargements, David Sokosh is part of the growing renaissance of artists making hand-crafted photographs, on an intimate scale, utilizing antique processes. Using the mid-nineteenth century technique of Wet Plate Collodion (a process used by the Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, among others), Sokosh creates unique photographs on metal, “tintypes”, which are often presented as objects, to be held in the hand.

The images explore the New York photographer's collecting obsessions, and often reflecting his sense of humor. From plaster casts of Renaissance sculpture to natural history materials to antique objects -- or even friends who stop by the studio -- the photographs provide a rare glimpse into Sokosh’s unusual world.

With digital, mass-produced photography now the norm, David Sokosh is drawn to the hand-crafted, one of a kind nature of tintype photographs. “I’m a post-industrial person, living in a self-created pre-modern world full of period objects of all kinds,” he explains. “This authentic process lets me explore the mindset of the early photographer/scientist/collector. I’m drawn to the quality of the photograph-as-object that the Wet-Plate process yields, and excited by the hands-on aspect of the process. I see the limits of this technology (large, heavy equipment and long exposure times) as a challenge rather than a hindrance.”

About the Wet-Plate Collodion Process:

Wet-Plate Collodion was the second major photographic technique, the first being Daguerreotype. From the 1850's through the 1870's most of the photographs made in America were created using Wet-Plate.

Contemporary chemical photography (sometimes referred to as Dry-Plate) uses gelatin as the vehicle for photosensitive silver. Wet-Plate uses Collodion, which is gun-cotton dissolved in ether and alcohol, as the vehicle. The process requires that a plate of metal or glass be coated with Collodion, then photosensitized, exposed in camera and developed while still wet, all within a narrow window of opportunity (approx. 5 minutes) before the Collodion has irreversibly dried. These images are unique originals, each created separately in the camera. There are no negatives, prints or editions. Each is one of a kind.

Sokosh uses original lenses from the period, on cameras of his own design and fabrication. The chemical mixtures are identical to those used in the 19th century. Images on glass are known as ambrotypes, and are seen as positives when viewed against a black background. Tintypes are images created on metal plates. These plates are coated in black enamel that allows the viewer to see the images as positives without the need of a black background.


ROBERT TAT GALLERY sells photographic images of all types. Our inventory includes:
- Vintage and later photographs of the master photographers, from the 19th to the 21st centuries;
- Camera Work gravures and Pictorialist works from the early 20th century;
- Modernist abstract works;
- Lesser-known mid-century artists;
- Vernacular and Found Images by unknown photographers;
- Contemporary works;
- Male imagery, including classic physique photographs and affectionate men;
- San Francisco historical material.

Robert Tat has a special interest in 20th century European and American Modernism. This includes classic modernism (photographs made between the two World Wars), and extends to a broader range of work influenced by the modernist school. It also encompasses 19th century photographs that anticipate modernism, vernacular and other anonymous works with a modernist sensibility, and contemporary works.

ROBERT TAT GALLERY is located in San Francisco's premiere gallery building at 49 Geary Street, Suite 410, near Union Square. The Gallery is open Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 AM - 5:30 PM. For further information, please call 415-781-1122. We also frequently exhibit at art fairs.

To be on our mailing list and receive periodic updates when new material is posted on this site, please send us an email with your name, phone (optional) and photo interests.

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We are always looking for fine photographs to purchase or consign. If you have photographs you would like to sell, please contact us.

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If you are looking for a particular photographic image, works by a specific photographer or a certain style of photograph, please contact us with your request. If we don't have it in inventory we'll be pleased to search for you. We have resources for photographic material all over the world.

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What is a Salon photograph?
Numerous camera clubs around the world sponsor regular exhibitions, called salons, where members of other clubs compete to show work. The salons during the first half of the 20th century were particularly rich, featuring the work of many artists who later became famous. We take a special interest in the the works of lesser known salon photographers, often serious amateurs or commercial professionals doing their own work on the side. Their photographs are frequently beautifully composed and crafted, with an aesthetic and print quality rivaling that of the celebrated artists of the day. Many collectors appreciate salon work for these reasons -- and because it is more reasonably priced than works by better known artists. Salon prints may bear exhibition labels or stamps on the reverse of the photograph's mount, indicating awards or other participation in various salons.

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What is a Vernacular photograph?
The term "vernacular" literally means "of the commonplace." In photography collecting, it refers to photographs which were made without artistic intent. This includes commercial photographs, personal snapshots and albums, historical images, scientific photographs, etc. Many collectors find vernacular images interesting, both for subject matter and for the occasional image that has an aesthetic appeal, albeit unintentional.

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What is a Found Image?
Our Found Images are specially selected snapshots screened with the same criteria as a fine art photograph: artistic appeal, engaging or emotional subject matter, and print quality. We search through about 1000 pieces to find one "gem in the rough" that meets our standards. There is growing interest in collecting snapshots and a new appreciation of them as art, with several fine arts museums mounting exhibitions during the past few years. Found Images from Robert Tat's collection were exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1998 as part of their "Snapshots: The Photography of Everyday Life" show.

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