The New Jersey-based Chuck Kelton, a longtime master printer for notable photographers, uses photosensitive papers and darkroom chemicals (fresh and expired) to make gorgeous images that, without cameras or lenses, satisfy photography's visceral claims on representing the real.
A photogram is made by exposing photosensitive paper to light; chemograms are made by exposing it to chemicals like developer and fixer. Chuck Kelton makes both chemograms and photograms, and frequently combines the techniques in single images. His velvety, stormy compositions of inky black and mottled bronze, burnt umber flares and soft, swirling shapes conjured in liquid air have a way of resembling landscapes. By folding the paper, Kelton creates a “seam” that operates as a horizon line, enhancing this effect. Meanwhile the organic and self-determined elements of the picture evoke phenomena like cloudfronts, fires, undulating waves and ridge lines.
Kelton's work is a dance of chance and control, gesture and accident. Landscape imagery always registers internal as much as external phenomena, and Kelton makes sure that we know he is not just transcribing nature by titling most of the images "A View, Not From a Window." These expansive vistas originate in the darkrooms of the studio and the self.
Kelton's work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications and is in the collections of J. Paul Getty Museum, Morgan Library, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Bibliothéque nationale de France, International Center of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Norton Museum of Art, New York Public Library, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.