Celebrated industrialist and photographic pioneer Lieven Gevaert was born in Antwerp, Belgium on May 28, 1868. His father died during his early childhood, but his mother supported the family with her small paper-making business. After receiving a degree in chemistry, Mr. Gevaert took over the family business. In 1890, he opened a modest Antwerp workshop specifically to manufacture calcium photographic paper. His partnership with entrepreneur Armand Seghers resulted in the formation of L. Gevaert & Cie (Company) in 1894. Starting on a small scale due to limited funds, its manufacturing operations grew to include a Parisian entity, Blue Star Papers, which had perfected a technique for gelatin paper.
By 1904, corporate growth dictated a move from Antwerp to the neighboring province of Mortsel. Mr. Gevaert proved himself to be an astute businessman and visionary, further cementing his company's success by establishing an employee profit-sharing plan, while encouraging extensive research and development. During the early twentieth century, Mr. Gevaert developed several patents, including one in 1919 for roll film in which the film's tongue-like tail end was configured so that it could loosely pass through a narrow slit in the backing paper. The following year, 1920, the company name was changed to Gevaert Photo-Producten N.V.. Mr. Gevaert's professional success provided him with considerable political clout, which included the development of Flemish independent businesses. He served as the first chairman of the Flemish Economic Association shortly after its founding in 1926. In his later years, he founded Antwerp's Sint-Lievens College.
Following Lieven Gevaert's death in 1935, the business continued to grow to include the manufacturing of box cameras fitted with British-constructed meniscus lenses. After World War II, Gevaert became a global leader in X-ray film technology, and produced films with much higher sensitivity, improved contrast, and superior exposure time slack. During the 1950s, its scientific division produced films and plates for astronomers and nuclear physicists and also advanced the fields of infrared photography and microphotography (in which images are reduced to microscopic scale), a precursor to microfilm. In 1964, Gevaert merged with its German counterpart Agfa to form Agfa-Gevaert with manufacturing plant Agfa-Gevaert NV in Mortsel, Belgium and Agfa-Gevaert AG in Leverkusen, Germany. Within three years, Agfa-Gevaert developed 126 film cameras known as the Rapid, in response to Kodak's successful 126 film series. When camera and film sales began to slide, it began producing xerographic materials for business photocopying.
By the 1980s, Agfa-Gevaert's business was at a virtual standstill, and eventually became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bayer. In the next decade, it branched out into digital technology and typesetting, eventually acquiring Hoechst (plate manufacturer) in 1996 and DuPont Graphic Arts the following year. However, Agfa-Gevaert gradually disappeared into an entity known as AgfaPhoto in 2004. That same year, Lieven Gevaert was memorialized in his native Belgium with the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture dedicated to study at graduate and Ph.D. levels. The Lieven Gevaert Series of photography volumes also began their publication in 2004 by Belgium's Leuven University Press and its American subsidiary, Cornell University Press. A hall in the Antwerp Museum of Photography bears his name, and in 2005, Mr. Gevaert was ranked 33rd in the Flemish version of the "Greatest Belgian" media poll.
2010 A/V A to Z: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Media, Entertainment and Other Audiovisual Terms by Richard W. Kroon (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.), p. 31.
2017 Agfa-Gevaert (URL: https://www.freevector.com/agfa-gevaert).
2014 Grace's Guide to British Industrial History (URL: http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Gevaert).
2011 Historical Personage: Lieven Gevaert (URL: https://sites.google.com/site/mortseldoorkinderen/mens-en-tijd/historisch-personage-lieven-gevaert).
2017 Lieven Gevaert (URL: https://www.routeyou.com/nl-be/location/view/47036395/lieven-gevaert).
2017 Lieven Gevaert Centre (URL: http://www.lievengevaertcentre.be/about).
2014 Minor Aesthetics: The Photographic Work of Marcel Mariën by Mieke Bleyen (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press), p. 2.
1920 Monthly Abstract Bulletin from the Kodak Research Laboratories, Vols. VI and VII (Rochester, NY: Eastman Kodak Company), p. 341.
2017 Some Important People in the History of Photography (URL: http://www.lakiere.info/VIPs.htm).
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