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Rodolfo Namias Group

Writer and photography / Alberto Novo

A group of Italian photographers and artists working with alternative photographic processes.

The Rodolfo Namias Group (GRN for the Italians) was born in 1991 in Parma. The charter founders were four members of the local Photography Circle "Il Grandangolo" enthusiastically involved with the old photographic techniques that were familiar, in the years before the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the photography.

"The founders attempted an almost impossible task of congregating those who were interested in arcane techniques."

The first meeting was attended by approximately twenty photographers from all around Italy. They decided to name the group after the master of Italian photographic chemistry, the man of science who enlightened the photographic community globally with his discoveries, teaching and publications – Rodolfo Namias.

Image left: A gum bichromate made during a gum workshop showing the teacher and the participants.

Roberto Lagrasta, one of the founders of the group says:

"My adventure begun in 1989, after having participated, with some friends from the Photographic Circle "Il Grandangolo" in the exhibition "Sulle orme della fotografia, 1839-1989". As fans of old photographic printing techniques, we decided to call for a meeting, which was set in June 1991. The aim was to give rise to a specialized group for the reciprocal exchange of technical experiences.

My main interest is since ever addressed to the gum dichromate, though I recently am experimenting some iron salts printing processes and I would say that on the technical level the Group has largely surpassed my expectations. In this Group there are very skilled people and a high level of the exchange of experiences. On the aesthetical level, a lively internal debate is on course since a long time, now fed also by the recent "digital revolution".

A lot of solid friendly relationships has been established between the members and in addition the Group is for me a constant stimulation for studying, experimenting and for managing at best my passion for the photography."

The Rodolfo Namias Group

Image above: Some of the members and their relatives during a short trip to Burano in occasion of the Autum meeting held in Venice. From left to right (standing): Giampietro Bottani, Giorgio Stella, Vittorio Losito, Dario Camuzzini, Alberto Novo, Giorgio Giachello, Alessandro Carta, Daniele Cinciripini, Sergio Gentili (kneeling): Roberto Lavini, Roberto Lagrasta.

Image right: Alberto Novo is showing and discussing his resinotype portfolio during the 2007 Autumn meeting held in Barisciano (close to L’Aquila). Looking at the images, from left to right Giorgio Giachello, Dario Camuzzini, Josef Peppi Gander, and Rosario Tinnirello.

The founders shared the motto "Old techniques for modern images", and devised the main goals of the Group:

  • to be independent from politics
  • non-profit
  • encouraging the members to express their opinions by means of the photography, and devoted to the sharing of knowledge
  • the experimentation and progress of the photographic processes
  • spreading of the culture and mystique of the old photographic techniques.

Alberto Novo, a member of the group says:

"I became interested in the alt-techniques in 1979. But personal reasons stopped me from carrying out any work until 1996. A member of the group saw my exhibition
From the PC to the saltprint

in 2001 and invited me to join the group. I have found a wonderful and likeable gang of highly skilled people, and my pictures gained a lot from seeing other masterpieces. My first contribution to the group has been to set up the GRN website."

The members of RNGNew members of the group are photographers or artists intensely interested in alternative printing techniques. They should also be able to demonstrate substantial knowledge of least one alternative printing technique.

"I joined the group with the purpose of exchanging technical and stylistic information, and work mainly in gum bichromates.
Apart from making friends with excellent people I have also improved my work on a technical level and taken parts in group shows."

Massimiliano Kornmuller, Member of The Rodolfo Namias Group since 1991

Since the start – as with all organic things – the Rodolfo Namias Group has undergone some turnover, but the initial core of the founders is virtually the same, growing rich of new entries drawn by the different activities and influences of other members. The group hold regular spring and autumn meetings over a weekend with the opportunity for non-members to sit in, as well as round table meetings, technical discussions and collaborations with other artistic and photographic organisations. There are also regular exhibitions of the group members work. See the Rodolfo Namias Group website for current exhibitions.

Though this photographic approach is still uncommon and not well known in Italy, the group is able to perform at least a couple of exhibition a year.

"I have belonged to the Group since 2005 and am devoted to both painting and photography. I wanted to join the group, since it was well established and recognized by the FIAF. My main interest is the callitipia in all of its variations, but I also print in cianotipia (cyanotype) and gum-bichromate. Being member of the GRN has allowed me a best access to technical knowledge and to information on the materials (papers, chemical products)."

Vittorio Losito, group member

In 1994 the experience of the group become condensed in the "Manuale Antiche Tecniche", edited by Editrice Progresso (the company founded by Rodolfo Namias in 1894 and still in the hands of his family), and now reprinted with new images. Since 2001 a website, www.grupponamias.com, widely appreciated for its design and content, is active and frequently updated. This last has become the principal mean for new contacts with other groups and photographers of the world.

4 thoughts on “Rodolfo Namias Group

  1. Dear Sir/Madam

    My name is Carlos Carloni, I am working in the library of the Agronomic Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires, (in the Arata Library), I write to you because we are interested to locate the complete reference of an article published in the Journal “Scientific American” by the prestigious author Rodolfo Namias,but we don’t know the year, it was published aproximately between 1900 to 1920, the page may be 371. I think that it is very difficult to obtain, but I think you have literature cited or enough bibliography about Prof. Namias.
    I would be very happy to get the complete citation of this work, but if it is not possible I will also appreciate your help and collaboration
    Thanks in anticipation and
    best wishes to you
    Carlos

  2. Dear Carlos,
    I will ask to Paolo Namias, nephew of Rodolfo, who still holds the “Editrice Progresso”. Unfortunately, Namias’ archive was destroyed by the bombing of Milano during the II world war, so it will not be so simple to retrieve this information.

    Kind regards,
    Alberto Novo

  3. Hi,

    I am in Port Angeles, Washington, USA. I am completing a photo book covering my notes on vanadium green toning. I gathered a lot of information on the processes, including the Namias material. My goal was to digitally recreate the look of the Kodak Velvet Green developing out paper.

    Have any of your group attempted to do vanadium green toning to black and white photos?

    Sincerely, Mathew

  4. Dear Mathew,
    there were two members of Rodolfo Namias doing toning. Unfortunately, one died in 2007 and the other has some problems.
    I remember that both preferred to do a double toning, using a lead nitrate bleach (Pot. ferricyanide, Lead nitrate, and Acetic acid). After the bleach and a long wash, tone in blue with ferric chloride and hydrochloric acid. Wash, then tone with a solution of pot. dichromate and acetic acid.

    Best regards,
    Alberto Novo

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