From negative to positive

25th February 2000 at 00:00
(Photograph) - ussycat, pussycat, where have you been? Half-woman, half-feline: who was Wanda Wulz? This gelatin silver print, "Io + gatto" ("I + cat") was made by Wulz in 1932 in Trieste using the technique of multiple negatives.

The dreamlike, dissolving effect of making one print out of many negatives was popular in Europe in the 1930s, but has rarely achieved such a compressed, arresting effect. The picture only became famous when it was chosen as a leitmotiv by the Italian Alinari Archive. Little is known of Wulz (1903-1984) herself, but this self-portrait has become more and more influential since such techniques gained more attentionin the 1960s.

Formal study of the technical, historical and scientific aspects of photography has been saved as part of the new A-level art and design (photography) course.

Ashley la Grange, head of photography at Rickmansworth School, Hertfordshire, led a campaign supported by fmous photographers including Eve Arnold and Don McCullin as well as leading experts from the Victoria amp; Albert Museum and the National Gallery. They opposed Government plans to introduce a watered-down syllabus later this year. The QCA has given in to their demands. An optional written paper will now enable post-16 students to demonstrate their academic grasp and not just practical skill.

Photography, which has already been scrapped at GCSE level, has fought for a separate identity within art departments, sometimes being dismissed as an amateur's form. Yet 1,000 students took the A-level last year.

Not only are there many technical possibilities to learn, but photographic images have imprinted the history of the past 100 years on everyone's memory.

Andy Golding, head of photography at the University of Westminster, says:

"It is essential that students have more than just a practical grounding."

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