New AP/RC Artist: Betty Hahn

The AP/RC recently received a group of sixty art works by Betty Hahn, an artist well known for her explorations of less traditional photographic techniques. The works in the AP/RC collection range from the mid 1960’s to the end of the 1990’s. Hahn’s images critically examine the medium of photography as much as her subjects in the viewfinder.

The AP/RC acquisitions include selections from her Passing Shots series, made using a novelty camera called a “Mick-O-Matic” (the body of the camera is shaped in the guise of that ever intrusive symbol of 20th century American culture, Mickey Mouse). Hahn’s Botanical Layouts recall 19th century scientific field and specimen photographs and prints or drawings but were shot using a 20×24 Polaroid camera, perhaps adding an air of creepiness to the carefully dissected flowers. The inclusion of the edges of the emulsion of her Polacolor prints help to lay bare the the facts of the photographic processes.

Also presented here is a sample of Hahn’s woodcuts from the 1960’s. The images, based on family photos–Hahn’s and some images–reduce the values to expressive, binary interpretations of the original. In Ancestors, Hahn highlighted herself as a young girl in red.

Finally, a cyanotype iris and three images from her detective novel inspired Case of XX (Dos Equis) portfolio are presented below. The latter, featuring procedures of crime investigation, characterize Hahn’s sly and tongue-in-cheek humor and visually scan the methods that a detective might use to find wonderfully simulated evidence.


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