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John Coffer

(b. 1952)

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Biography

Fascinated with tintypes from the age of eight, John Coffer devoted himself to re-discovering the photographic technique of wet-plate colodion tintypes, or “Ferrotypes,” a medium that has been largely forgotten since the 19th century. Using the writings of the 19th century photographer Peter Britt, Coffer learned the process of wet-plate photography and first began creating his own works in the 1980s. 

Coffer’s works focus largely on iconic “old-fashioned” imagery: his cast iron stove, model T Ford, and horse-drawn cart appear often in his photographs. Many works feature chickens, cows, haystacks, blacksmithing tools, and other imagery of agrarian life from a bygone era. At the same time, Coffer infuses these images with contemporary perspective, giving his works a modern aesthetic. It is this compelling juxtaposition between old and new that has won Coffer recognition as a leader of photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Garde.  His work is included in the permanent collections of the International Center of Photography and Colby College Museum of Art, as well as in numerous private collections.

Exhibitions