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Paint and Print in Motion: Karl Bodmer’s Atlas

This essay reinterprets Karl Bodmer’s North American frontier watercolor portraits from the 1830s through their intended future destination and involvement in European print processes. I argue that Bodmer “painted print,” whereby the image separations required by print technologies shaped Bodmer’s working methods. Thus, Bodmer’s North American portraits are not complete representational spaces within themselves. Instead, their uneven completion, visual notations, blank backgrounds, and selected sections of detailed focus reflect their status as ever-moving image-objects within a larger print culture.