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Science or Art?. The Evolution of Photography as an Art Form. Scientific Beginnings. Early photography was developed as an instrument to aid scientific discovery or as a purely documentary device.
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Science or Art? The Evolution of Photography as an Art Form
Scientific Beginnings • Early photography was developed as an instrument to aid scientific discovery or as a purely documentary device. • This image of a leaf, an early photogenic drawing, was thought to have been created by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1839, but may have been created by Thomas Wedgewood in 1805. Early Calotype by Fox Talbot or Thomas Wedgewood(?) Photograph of Mental Patient by Dr. Hugh Diamond
Pioneers of Artistic Photography • William Henry Fox Talbot’s paper negative images were not very good for portraiture, but they were excellent for conveying an artistic mood to an otherwise mundane subject. • Talbot’s research and artistic use of the photographic process laid the groundwork for photography to be seen as an art form equal to painting or drawing. Fox Talbot calotype c. 1835
Early Artistic Uses • Painters used photographs of models as a substitute for live models. • David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson created scenes of character types that were used as drawing models in the 1840s.
Gustav Le Gray One of the first calotype artists, Le Gray proclaimed that the future of photography was on paper. Le Gray’s work focused on landscapes and seascapes. Gustave Le Gray. (French, 1820-1882). The Great Wave, Sète. 1856. Albumen silver print from collodion glass-plate negatives, 13 1/4 x 16 1/4" (33.6 x 41.3 cm).
The Pictorialist Style Pictorialists sought to distinguish “artistic” art from amateur snapshots. Pictorialists were heavily influenced by Renaissance and Pre- Raphaelite Painters H.P. Robinson, He Never Told His Love. 1884
Renaissance and Pre- Raphaelite Influences • Henry Peach Robinson’s 1860- 1861 photographic interpretation (left) of Ophelia, painted by John Millais (right) in 1850
Henry Peach Robinson • Robinson (along with Rejlander) was a master of the montage technique. The Pictorialists had no qualms about using tricks to create complicated allegorical images. They viewed the photographic process as another means to the same ends a painting has- the depiction of a creative statement. H.P. Robinson. Fading Away. Combination Print using five different negatives. 1858
Oscar Gustav Rejlander • Oscar Gustav Rejlander was considered by many to be the Father of Fine Art Photography. He was very outspoken about the artistic value of photography. Oscar Gustav Rejlander. Two Ways of Life. Combination Print using 30 different negatives. 1858
Julia Margaret Cameron • Julia Margaret Cameron was one of the few women photographers of her time. She was heavily influenced by Renaissance and Pre- Raphaelite painting, which draws from mythological and allegorical subjects. Vivien and Merlin, 1875 John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shallot. 1888
Julia Margaret Cameron Call I Follow, I Follow, Let Me Die, 1867 Beatrice Cenci, 1866
PH Emerson and Naturalistic Photography Peter Henry Emerson, fourth cousin of American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, Reacted against the Pictorialist photographers use of tricks and dramatic subject matter. He thought that nature was the only proper source for photo- graphic images. His ideas heavily influenced future generations of American photographers. His approach was called Naturalistic or Purist photography.
Peter Henry Emerson • Pictures of East Anglian Life, 1888 • Gathering Water Lilies, 1886
Other Naturalistic Photographers William B. Post, Summer Days, 1895 Frances S. and Mary E. Allen, Louise Rogers pulling Mable Brown's hair, 1896-1899. Church and Old Town Landing, Annisquam, Massachusetts, 1900
Modernism • Modernism is a term used to refer to a new philosophy and approach to visual and performing arts as well as science and technology. During the first half of the 20th Century, artists and scientists made a concerted effort to throw off traditional ways of thinking. Marcel Duchamp. Nude Descending A Staircase. 1912
Photo- Secessionists • The Photo- Secessionist Movement was started by Alfred Stieglitz and inspired by the writings of PH Emerson. Their approach was more reality- based, with emphasis on interesting subject matter in everyday life. The Secessionists also were among the first photographers to attempt abstracted views. The use of abstraction and the cameras ability to capture things unseen by the naked eye were major influences on subsequent movements throughout the visual arts, including surrealism, futurism, cubism and others. Alfred Stieiglitz, by Edward Weston
Alfred Stieglitz Street Design For A Poster, 1903 Equivalent, 1929
Alfred Stieglitz The Steerage, 1907 Georgia O’Keefe, 1933
f/64 • f/64 was a modernist group of photographers whose ideals for photographic art included images with extremely sharp detail. This group of photographers sought to replicate human vision as closely as possible to evoke the same kinds of feelings looking at the photograph as were felt by the photographer seeing the scene in person. Point Lobos, 1940. Edward Weston
Journalistic Photography • The World Wars introduced the stereotypical hard-nosed, do- anything- to- get- the- shot photographer portrayed in many movies. They had to be just as tough as the soldiers they were documenting. • Journalistic photography differs from documentary photography because the journalistic photographer puts an editorial twist on the imagery. James Nachtwey in action
Nadar Aerial photograph of Paris 1858
American Civil War Dead Federal Soldier during the American Civil WarPetersburg, Virginia, April 1865Source Library of congress Photo attributed to Timothy O’Sullivan
Aerial Photography in WWI Aerial photographs taken by cameras mounted on carrier pigeons
The Farm Security Administration Photograph by Ben Shahn
Dorothea Lange Migrant Mother, 1936 White Angel Breadline, 1933
Walker Evans Kitchen Corner in Floyd Burroughs‘ Home, Hale County, Alabama, 1936 "Farmer’s Kitchen, Hale County, Alabama," 1936
Arthur Rothstein "Fleeing a Dust Storm Cimmaron County, Oklahoma”, April, 1936. “Sharecropper’s Daughter”, 1935
Gordon Parks “American Gothic”, 1942 “Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple”, 1985
Robert Capa Capa’s photographs from the D-Day invasion of France during WWII powerfully capture the frenzy and confusion of war. The original publisher noted that these images were, “slightly out of focus”, due to the photographer’s hands shaking in fear as he held the camera. Capa was the founder of the journalistic photographer’s group, Magnum. He was an extremely influential figure in journalistic photography.
Joe Rosenthal Marines Raising the American Flag Over Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima
Don McCullin Don McCullinGhaziveram, Cyprus, April 1964.A Turkish woman mourns her dead husband, victim of the Greek-Turkish civil war.
James Nachtwey Sudan, 1999 Afghanistan, 1996
Setting the Stage For Now • The techniques and philosophies of the Pictorialists, Purists and modernist groups solidified photography’s role as a creative artistic process with the same formal concerns as painting. • Through its raw portrayal of the human condition, photo- journalism proved photography’s power as an instrument for social change.