Inspired by the equine imagery in Paul Ramirez Jonas’s “The Commons”, currently on view in the Bell Gallery’s Alumni Exhibition, we delved into the collections for more equestrian inspired pieces. We were thrilled to find this multi-negative photograph, “White Horse in Fog”, taken by Doug Prince in the fall of 1979 while he was teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design.
The setting of the photograph is unclear, nearly entirely obscured by darkness. The brightly illuminated and completely white horse appears surreal in its truncated posture and unknown environment. The powerful contrast in lighting values falsely implies that the photograph was taken in the dark, perhaps in the dead of night. Prince told us the story of how the photograph was actually taken:
I drove Lee Witkin up to Addison House, in Danbury, New Hampshire, where he was editing his book, 10th Anniversary Salute. While Lee was inside working with the editor, I took my camera and walked around the farm where I found a white horse in a field. I made a series of photos using my on-camera flash bulbs, which isolated the horse from the landscape. This also denied the delicate fall colors of the foggy landscape in the background…
Coincidentally enough, there is a photograph of Prince taking the photo.
While I was photographing, Lee came out and took a picture of me taking a photograph of the horse. When the flash of his camera went off, the horse turned his head to see where that light was coming from and I was able to capture the contrapposto posture that you see in this photograph. Later that year, going over contact sheets, I found an image of a cloud that I photographed over Moonstone Beach, RI.
Prince practiced this multi-negative method for about four decades. He told us that the process allowed for “new possible realities” and that this image making lent itself to an easy transition into working digitally.
I’ve come to appreciate my monitor as a viewfinder. The digital work environment is very different from the world of film and darkroom, but the creative process and vision has been rather consistent.
Prince is currently a professor at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
View “White Horse in Fog” in the Bell Gallery’s digital collections database here.
– Liz Crawford, Curatorial Assistant