s l e e p
France Scully Osterman

"Now blessings light on him that first invented this same sleep!
It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak;
'tis meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty,
heat for the cold, and cold for the hot.
'Tis the current coin that purchases
all the pleasures of the world cheap;
and the balance that sets the king
and the shepherd, the fool
and the wise man even."

Miquel de Cervantes,
Don Quixote de la Mancha









waxed salt print from collodion negative









Sleeping (husband), 1997

Light Pours In, 2002

Laszlo and Carole, 2002

Kate and Jonathan, 2001

Tamara, 2001



"Sleeping, like breathing, is a universal experience; yet it retains a certain mystery since we rarely, if ever, observe it. France Scully Ostermans new series reveals this hidden side of life by examining and beautifully portraying this shared human experience. Ostermans prints open up a world of the unseen that is equally self-reflective and voyeuristic, showing us what we cannot see of ourselves and what we normally do not see of others.

"What draws the viewer in further is that Osterman captures the romance, innocence, weariness, loneliness, surrender, and intimacy her models unwittingly reflect in their sleep. Besides the theme, Ostermans work is highly unusual for her utilization of the painstaking 19th century wet-collodion process. This method of making negatives requires that the photographer coat the glass plate just prior to exposure and develop it while still wet.

"The extreme care and skill needed to make the final product is compounded by the fact that she also sensitizes her own paper. To make her final images, Osterman makes waxed salt paper prints from her glass plate negatives, a process popularized in the 1840s. These so called sun prints are actually contact printed in the sun rather than developed in a dark room. This choice requires a longer exposure and constant attention to bring each of her prints to life. As a result, each image is created with its own distinct emotional landscape through shifts made in light, tonal range, and depth.

"Osterman is recognized as one of the few true experts and practitioners of the wet collodion and waxed salt print methods. Her writings have been included in a large number of publications, and her work has been highlighted in a number of solo exhibits. In addition to serving as joint publisher of The Collodion Journal, Osterman serves as a guest scholar for George Eastman House and has given lectures, demonstrations and workshops throughout the United States, Japan and Europe.

"The Sleep series establishes Osterman to be much more than a master of photographic technique as it puts forth a complex vision; evoking a strong sense of humanity, connectedness, beauty, introspection, and voyeurism."

©2000 Howard Greenberg Gallery. All rights reserved.

Howard Greenberg Gallery
41 East 57th St., New York City
(212) 334-0010



Village Voice, Oct-Nov 2002
Paris Photo, Nov-Dec 2002
Art in America, September 2003


magazine, "Innocent Sleep," Jan-Feb, 2003

All prints are 8" x 10" waxed salt prints from collodion negatives. To view more images and for purchase information, contact Howard Greenberg gallery

all images ©France Scully Osterman

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