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A luminogram is an image created by exposure of photosensitive materials to light without the intervention of an object.


The light is modulated by varying the intensity through distance from the photosensitive surface, the power of the light source, or by the use of filters or gels or motion of the light. The paper can itself be shaped to create the desired effects in the final image. Many of László Moholy-Nagy's photograms were luminograms. The image is created by variations in light shape and intensity. They can be created using a small light source, as from a flashlight, that is moved to expose the photosensitive substrate. Moholy-Nagy used this technique to create many of his photograms. Gottfried Jäger (photographic theorist) describes this as "the result of pure light design; the rudimentary expression of an interaction of light and photosensitive material… a kind of self representation of light."

Luminograms: then and now[edit]

László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), American, born in Austria-Hungary (in Bacsborsod). Moved to Vienna in late 1919 after serving in the Austro-Hungarian army. In 1919 he and his wife Lucia Moholy began experimenting with the process of making photograms, and Lucia Moholy (Czechoslovakia) developed a technique they called the photogram.

Moholy-Nagy produced photogram and luminogram images from 1922 in Berlin continuously until his death in 1946. Chronologically they can be considered from three groups of images: Berlin Bauhaus period (1923-1928), his period of exile in London (1935-1937), and the United States (1937-1946). [1][permanent dead link]. Moholy-Nagy considered the "mysteries" of the light effects and the analysis of space as experienced through the photogram to be important principles that he experimentally explored and advanced in his teaching throughout his life. [László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion (1947)]. Moholy-Nagy's luminograms are completely about light and design. Moholy-Nagy approached the light sensitive photographic paper as a blank canvas and used light to literally paint on the surface with and without the interference of an intervening object. (Andreas Haus, "Laszló Moholy-Nagy, Photographs and Photograms," Pantheon Books, 1980, translation from the German by Frederick Sanson pp 51–52)

Jo Bradford (born 1972), Contemporary Visual Artist, specialising in contemporary colour reversal luminograms, cliché verre and photograms. Born Hertfordshire, UK, Lives & works in Cornwall, UK. Graduated University College Falmouth (with Distinction) MA: Photographic Critical Practice, 2004. Bradford creates Colour Luminograms, sometimes referred to as Lumigrams. Works in private studio darkroom, exhibits regularly. Bradford originated as a member of the "Seeing The Light" stable of photographic artists, including Jonathan Shaw, in the early 2000s, under the wing of "Seeing the Light" company director, Rhonda Wilson MBE.

Bradfords work and that of Martina Corry grow out of spontaneity of hand and arm movement, paradoxically disciplined by an imposed compositional order. Masks are placed where the light should not reach and make its mark, during each distinct exposure period. It is in the distance from the surface and the speed and direction of the movement that the work is allowed to be spontaneous. Debate surrounds the fact that some of the works by all of these artist could be classed as cliché verre - a contemporary re-visioning of an older process, the technique was popular in the 1850s with such French artists as Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, Théodore Rousseau, and Eugène Delacroix. The most prominent 20th-century exponent of cliché-verre was the Hungarian-American designer György Kepes, and the technique was also explored by Joan Fontcuberta in his "Frottogram" series.[1]

Martina Corry is a visual artist, living and working in Ireland, within the field of photography, she graduated from the University of Ulster in 1999 with an MFA (with Distinction) specialising in photography. She creates black and white luminograms often presented on aluminium, which have been exhibited in Ireland. These black and white works are more akin to the earlier works of Moholy-Nagy than the more contemporary colour work of Bradford and Rob and Nick Carter

Rob and Nick Carter's luminogram work are in the medium of Cibachrome, the Carters have spent a decade of experimenting with the photogram, on the border of painting and photography. The colour modulations are orientated around blue, green, orange and purple and developed out of the artists' fascination with the orange/blue complementarity of Goethe's colour circle.

Jon Lybrook of Colorado, USA has been making luminograms since the early 1990s. Inspired by the work of avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage, Jon Lybrook's Lytescapes Series of luminograms combine painting and photography, employing ortho-chromatic graphics art film, custom photo chemicals, and a variety of masking techniques.

Mike Jackson (born 1966) is a British experimental and fine art photographer based in North Dorset, England. He moved away from working with traditional camera techniques in 2015 and is currently progressing the Luminogram process into new directions in which he has become regarded as a leading practitioner. Past awards and accolades include being named a Finalist for the Hasselblad Masters Award (2008, 2009, 2010) and winner of the 2013 Chris Beetles Award. His work has been exhibited internationally and is part of various private collections. His work with the Luminogram process is based around the concept of 'sculpting light' for photographic paper to 'translate' into form. He has been quoted as saying that the Luminogram process allows him to use nature as a reference rather than as a subject from which to copy.


  1. ^ Joan Fontcuberta (interview with A. D. Coleman). Journal of Contemporary Art 1991;4(1):34-48. Retrieved 10 July 2008.

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