Leendert Blok (1895-1986)
galerie dudokdegroot is proud to work with Collection Spaarnestad and to represent a special edition dudokdegroot | Spaarnestad Photo from the original glass negatives, autohromes and spectracolors of Leendert Blok.
Leendert Blok grew up in a doctor’s family in the Dutch village of Lisse, south of Haarlem, where his father was general practitioner and his mother a pharmacist. Because of his poor health as a child his parents allegedly made sure that later in life Leendert would not be in need of a job. In this way he had plenty of time as a young boy to get himself acquainted with the ins and outs of photography with the help of two uncles who as photo amateurs were esp. interested in the technical side of photography. Leendert Blok could use the apothecary of his parents as a place to carry out photographical experiments. Later in his career Blok would continue to experiment with cameras and photographic recording material to solve for instance the problems to photograph in colour which still existed in the early decades of the 20th century.
After finishing technical secondary education in Holland and training as a photojournalist or specialist photographer in South Africa, Leendert Blok started his own ‘Photo Technical Bureau L. Blok Ltd.’ in his hometown Lisse. At first he worked as photo reporter for newspapers, but soon he turned his attention to solve difficult photographical problems like the demand of bulb growers in the Lisse area to provide them with colour photos for their catalogues for their overseas customers. That is why Blok became one of the few professional photographers in Holland who worked in colour in the 1920s and 1930s. At first he used the then only available commercial colour process of the French Lumière brothers, the autochrome (a colour transparency on glass based on the use of coloured particles of potato starch). But Blok also worked with black-and-white negatives on glass by which means he was able to create colour images by using filters. Somewhere about 1927 he created a colour method which he called ‘Spectracolor’, by putting together three separate layers of exposed film each with its own colour: magenta (red), cyan (blue) and yellow, thus creating a colour image that was much sharper and brighter than the autochrome. The instructions of the nurserymen enabled Blok to improve the compositions of his images, and, by showing the flowers often plainly and as individuals, he created a photographical modern image rooted in the centuries old tradition of rendering flowers manually.