Compelled by Color presents a selection of photographs highlighting the vibrancy and variety of works from the collection of Victor and Martha Diaz.

The Institute of Photographic Arts, founded in Mexico by Mr. and Mrs. Diaz in 1976, ceased operations in 2016 and donated over 750 color photographs to the Museum. Many works were created using the dye-transfer printing process – a technology that has become nearly obsolete since the materials to produce such prints were discontinued in 1994.

The manually intensive dye-transfer process involves separating the image into three separate negatives recording the intensity of cyan, magenta, and yellow (or in some films, red, green, and blue). These negatives are then used to create gelatin-relief positives, called “matrices,” which are soaked in their corresponding dye. In a method similar to screen printing, these dyed matrices are carefully aligned and rolled or squeegeed onto paper, transferring the dyes in turn to the surface of the paper. The overlaying of dyes creates a full range of colors. Artists are afforded a great deal of control over the resulting color of the final print as they can modify the formulas of the dye, as well as the amount used in each print. After the dye has dried, the image is fixed.

Featuring works by Eve Arnold, Harry Callahan, Franco Fontana, Joel Meyerowitz, Olivia Parker, Eliot Porter, and Cole Weston, this exhibition showcases the incredible vibrancy of the dye-transfer method and experimentation in color photography through a variety of subjects, including nature studies, cityscapes, and abstract compositions.

Dye-Transfer Prints from the Diaz Collection of Photography / October 08, 2016 through March 26, 2017

Harry Callahan, Detroit, 1951. Dye transfer print. Gift from the Victor Diaz Color Photography Collection. ©Estate of Harry Callahan. 2015.124.