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Finding Aid to the Johan Hagemeyer Photograph Collection, circa 1908-circa 1955
BANC PIC 1964.063-.064 - PIC  
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Collection Overview
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The Johan Hagemeyer Photograph Collection comprises the bulk of what was the photographer's personal archive at the time of his death in 1962. The collection contains approximately 6,785 photographic prints and negatives, and spans from his earliest known amateur work of ca. 1908 to his later works of the mid-1950s.
Johan Hagemeyer was born into a working class family in Amsterdam, Holland on Whitsunday, June 1, 1884. Sickly from childhood, and self-described as the "black sheep" among his 4 siblings, the introspective Johan was very well-read and excelled at writing and drawing at a young age. Under pressure from his parents to aspire toward a higher social status, Johan left school in his mid-teens to join an insurance brokerage. Meanwhile, his intellectual curiosity - which ranged from literature and the arts to science and politics - led him to explore such topics as philosophical anarchism, vegetarianism, and religious mysticism. He also had a keen interest in botany, and soon abandoned his career in insurance to study horticulture. After compulsory service in the Dutch army - where he served as a marching flutist - and a brief return to brokerage, he enrolled in a horticultural college. It was during his studies here that he and his brothers Hendrik and Herman, also aspiring horticulturalists, decided to emigrate to the United States to pursue their ambitions in California.Johan Hagemeyer's earliest surviving photographs date from ca. 1910 and feature carefully composed images of subjects and scenes in his immediate environs: family, friends, horticulture, the Dutch countryside. Little is known of his training in photography prior to his formative meeting with Stieglitz in 1916. After his visit to 291, his earliest training was in a Berkeley portrait studio. Also during this time he made the acquaintance of many of the West Coast photographers - most of them pictorialists, such as Anne Brigman - recommended to him by Stieglitz. In short time, Hagemeyer's desire to study photography, coupled with his acquaintances in intellectual and political circles, led him to the door of Edward Weston. Hagemeyer's professional partnership and intense personal friendship with Edward Weston were invaluable to his artistic development in countless ways, not the least of which was the argumentative aspect of their relationship as fellow photographers. (His now-legendary debates with Weston on the representative nature of photography are highly indicative of both their mutual respect as well as their increasingly conflicting approaches to their craft.) (Arch. [see essays by Lorenz and Schaefer])After all, it is that "seeing" in picture making, plus that indefinable something that is in every individual and which must be brought out that makes the result worthwhile. The individual touch, the idea or intent must be in everything we create...A picture in order to deserve that name must be a product of art, a product of an impulse to create, and creating is giving out something of yourself, so that product must of necessity show the essence of the producer, his or her individuality, imagination, etc...So, let us find ourselves, let us make the camera the medium of our own ideas, of imagination, of vision, of feeling, of inner relation upon things in the outer world. Let us give expression to the impulse within...Set your own personal standard. Do not follow, try and lead. (JHC 7)And that is why it is easy for me to photograph a person. I find out what they are interested in and then I identify myself with it and I can talk about it. I enjoy that, and that is when I have really done it. They begin to feel that they are not being photographed, that it is just a visit and I happen to have quite unobtrusively a little camera there. It is not even in front of you, only a little while - and it goes so rapidly, just a moment. I never have to think of light because that is instinctive and composition is also instinctive with me. (OHT 89-90)His textures and colors run, rather, to dark-toned richness, but never, and rather miraculously, to the loss of clarity in the representation. In short, the man behind the camera has a painter's sense of the picture surface and a modern photographer's sense of the living, characteristic, unposed moment in the subject's life. (Arch. 19)
circa 6,785 items (circa 5,790 film negatives, circa 925 photographic prints and circa 70 glass negatives representing circa 5,235 unique images) 1500 digital objects
Materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Collection is open for research by appointment only. Photographic prints and negatives are RESTRICTED due to need for special handling. Inquiries regarding these materials should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.