South Bristol: Jeannette Klute, a pioneer in the use of color photography as an art form and among the first women in that field, died Monday Aug. 3 at age 91 at her home on Gulick Road, Honeoye.
In failing health over the last few years, she nevertheless realized her desire to live to the end at her beloved country home beside a woodland pond that was the setting for many of her best-known photographic works.
Her home also served as her photographic and art studio, where she hosted exhibits of her work over many years.
Ms. Klute was born and grew up in Rochester, and started with Eastman Kodak Co. in 1939 as a technician in Kodak Research Laboratories. Later, she headed a Kodak photographic studio and laboratory and specialized as a nature photographer and in solving problems related to making high-quality color prints using the then-new dye transfer process.
One of her best-known works is Woodland Portraits, published in 1954 by Little, Brown and Company of Boston, a large book with 50 reproductions of dye transfer prints from her photographs of plants and animals in their natural surroundings. Little, Brown called it “one of the most beautiful books Little, Brown have offered in more than a century of publishing.”
The book won praise from world-renowned photographers. Edward Steichen called it “one of the most distinguished, carefully considered and produced books in the field of photography. The reproductions do justice to the highly sensitive and understanding perception of this very fine photographer”.
Ansel Adams, in a letter to the publisher, said, “There is very little I can say about this magnificent work, other than just that – it is magnificent! I think Miss Klute has made a major contribution to creative photography – a new and fresh approach, and avoidance of the sterile color and moods of the greater part of contemporary color photography.”
The New York Times, in a review, called the book “sumptuous and deluxe” and the photos “breath-takingly lovely”.
In a preface to her book, she wrote: “My purpose has been to somehow express the feeling one experiences being out of doors. I am concerned with the delight to the senses as much as with the intellectual. The woods are mystical and enchanting to me as well as spiritual.”
Her work has been in several invitational exhibitions, including the first all-color exhibition produced by Steichen in 1952 in New York, and the first Women of Photography exhibition by the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1975.
She has pictures in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Royal Photographic Society, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the George Eastman House and several others, and has had more than 250 one-person shows throughout the world. Her pictures have been circulated by the Smithsonian Institution and shown internationally by Kodak.
Currently some of her photography is featured at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. An exhibit of her
photographs and paintings will be held at the Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua beginning Sept. 25.
At Kodak, she worked with Ralph Evans, head of the Color Technology Division, and illustrated Evans’ lectures and books in the field of vision and perception of color.
She also did extensive work in “derivations” from color photographs, using modified brightness scales and other photographic variables to introduce new and startlingly different artistic possibilities.
Ms. Klute studied photographic technology at Rochester Institute of Technology and earned a B.S. degree in general studies with major in art history at the University of Rochester.
After retiring from Kodak in 1983, she pursued an interest in painting, especially watercolors and acrylic, and for 12 years attended twice-a-year painting workshops in Myrtle Beach, S.C. In recent years, she has had several shows featuring both her photographs and her paintings.
She was predeceased by her sister Olive, and is survived by cousins and many friends. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday Aug. 8 at Honeoye United Church of Christ on Main Street, Honeoye. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Honeoye United Church of Christ, PO Box 127, Honeoye, NY 14471; Ontario County Arts Council, 65 S. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424; or to a charity of your choice. To send a condolence or for further information please visit www.doughertyfuneralhomes.com