Pictorialism (Prelude and Fugue)
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In 1995 Bill Gates purchased the Bettmann Archive, canonical repository of the pictorial past. Gates’ corporation Corbis moved the collection to Iron Mountain, an underground data-prison, promising to digitize a fraction of the collection and restrict access to the rest. This was not a break with established routines of picture trafficking, but a continuation of the cultural commerce of Otto Bettmann himself. This chapter juxtaposes the career of the Bettmann cultural establishment with the pictorial output of other Weimar practitioners, notably Eduard Fuchs and Herbert Bayer, illuminating what was at stake in rival modes of global image banking. Despite continuities in service delivery, a profound difference of aesthetic allegiance separates Bettmann and Corbis–Bettmann, centered on the role of historicity in the manufacture of image banks.