Understanding Visual Culture- Part 1- Photography: The new reality

For this exercise we had to read “Photography versus Painting” by Osip Brik which is available in the Art in Theory book. I also read http://thedelightsofseeing.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/photorealism-and-relationship-betwenn.html?m=1 to help with my understanding of the Brik article.

I found the article very interesting and it really helped to relate the impact that photography had on painting and artists. I can imagine that when photography was first introduced this would have been seen as quite threatening to painters especially when the photographers motto was “Precision, speed, cheapness”. This approach to imaging was a stark contrast to painting where subjects in portraits had to sit for hours while they were painted. Photography became even more threatening when photographers moved onto taking photos of landscapes. Brik speaks of how painters can only copy real colours and although Brik only mentions monochrome photography, he does say that photographs do not falsify the subject with wrong colours. He then goes on to say how painters have to work within the limits of the palette whereas a photograph can produce a faithful reproduction of a subject. Brik describes this purely and simply within the article by saying; “The photographer captures life and the painter makes pictures”.  What I found quite unusual while reading the article was the lengths that photographers went to in order to make their images more like paintings by using soft focus and techniques such as vingette. They did this in order to make their work more of an art form then just “an insignificant craft” and more aesthetically pleasing to viewers whereas painters strived to make their work more realistic and I suppose more like photographs. Nowadays, painters see photography as an essential tool in their own practises, by taking photos to then paint or as inspiration for future work. I can sometimes find it very difficult to find exactly what I am looking for or what I imagine when I photograph but with painting you are more free to use your own imagination when creating landscape pictures for example. There also seems to be a move in art for artists to flit between painting, drawing and photography such as David Hockney, Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol. The other aspect was that photography brought about photographs of objects and subjects that had not been used before in paintings such as rooftops and everyday life. This can also be put into the modern-day context with the invention of camera phones and social networking and photo-sharing sites such as Instagram and Facebook where people post images of their dinners and what shoes they are wearing that day (just a couple of things that I saw when I opened explore on Instagram). With the invention of photography it made painters start to look at the way they worked and look for alternatives. One example of this would be Monet who started to use looser and more expressive brush marks.







Another example of a painter that used different approaches to painting with the invent of photography was Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch. When painting Munch wanted to show the basic fears and anxieties of man. He wanted the viewer to have an emotional experience that one had not experienced before in either a painting or photograph. He did this by using quite vivid colours and highly simplified forms.

Edvard Munch



About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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One Response to Understanding Visual Culture- Part 1- Photography: The new reality

  1. Pingback: Landscapes- Exercise 1.2- Photography in the museum or in the gallery? | kunsworthphotography's Blog

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