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Classic Solution I

Classic Solution I

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Description (Brief)
Color gum-bichromate on paper. Signed, titled and dated on front, bottom edge of print. Depicts man posed on sidewalk in foreground. Behind him is a series of classical mythological figures such as Poseidon, Theseus and a Minotaur. The background is cream and the images are gold. The top half of the image is an enlarged negative with an owl on its side. It is surrounded by an oval of neon painted dots (pink, orange, yellow and green).
The Betty Hahn collection at the National Museum of American History consists of five color gum bichromate photographs on paper and two color gum bichromate photographs on fabric with stitching, dates ranging between 1965 and 1970.
Betty Hahn’s photographs were collected by the Smithsonian as an example of alternative photographic processes. The Division of Photographic History included her images in Women, Cameras, and Images II: Betty Hahn and Gayle Smalley (1969). Hahn’s work was also included in the exhibits: The Camera and the Human Façade (1970) and New Images 1839-1973 (1973).
Betty Hahn neé Elizabeth Jean Okon was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1940. One of four children, the Okon’s moved to Indiana in 1950. In college at Indiana University (1958-1963), Hahn studied Fine Arts and Art History. While her initial interests were painting, drawing and graphic arts, in her junior year she took her first photography course from Henry Holmes Smith. (Smith also taught photographer Jerry Uelsmann. See COLL.PHOTOS.000061.) Smith mentored Hahn for much of the beginning of her career. While in her graduate studies (1963-1966), still at Indiana, Hahn worked as Smith’s graduate assistant and, upon his suggestion, began to experiment with the gum bichromate process. Hahn is thought of as one of the first important photographers to focus photographic training on multi-media works.
She also has continued to experiment with non-silver processes and other unconventional forms for creating fine art photography. In the early 1970s she added fabrics and stitchery to her gum bichromate images. In the early 1980s she completed a series of photographs utilizing a “Mick-A-Matic” toy camera and later in the decade began a series utilizing the themes of crime and intrigue for which she took a class in Evidence photography. Hahn has spent much of her career teaching photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology (1969-1975) and later at the University of New Mexico, where she is now professor emerita.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
print made
Hahn, Betty
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
paint (overall material)
overall: 71 cm x 50.5 cm x.3 cm; 27 15/16 in x 19 7/8 in x 1/8 in
image: 55.5 cm x 38 cm; 21 27/32 in x 14 31/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Photo History Collection
Betty Hahn Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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