Can (and should) life truly imitate Art?

At first glance I thought this exhibition was about something else entirely – bodies covered in tattoos (to which I am entirely approving). But now that I am well informed, I’ve got some things to say. Are photographs art? Sure, sometimes, certainly not all the time, just have a look at my memory card. But are they Art, capital A, meant to be scrutinised, reviewed, and studied for centuries to come? I’m not so sure.

Image
(I’d rather see the Maja nude than, say, Kim Kardashian)
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, The Nude Maja, 1797-1800.
Oil on canvas, 98 x 191 cm.
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Painting is an expression of one’s mind, heart, and imagination. The colours we interpret, the way things make us feel, whatever happens to be going through our heads at a particular moment in time. Paintings are created by hand and, arguably, soul. Photographs, on the other hand, are, while surely manipulated by a human force, created by machine. And so, does this pave a path for us to compare Delacroix’s images of rape and murder in Death of Sardanapalus to a photograph of a seemingly “broken” woman strewn across a bed (Tom Hunter’s Death of Coltelli)? I would say not.

Image
(Even I would model for Degas!)
Edgar Degas, Woman with a Towel, 1894 or 1898.
Pastel on cream-coloured wove paper with red and blue fibres throughout, 95.9 x 76.2 cm.
H.O. Havemeyer Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

A painting allows for the deepest expression of whatever feeling the artist wishes to convey. He can make a woman look desperate and torn apart, he can make a man look smug and in control (both references to Sardanapalus); he can make a troublesome child appear angelic and shade the curves of a woman just so to make her appear sensual rather than vulgar. A photographer can only hope to have such a good model to portray the image inside his mind, and even then, we know they’re just pretending – because, in all honesty, what cruel being would take a photo of someone that has been raped, murdered, or committed suicide and call it Art?

Image
(If you are going to photograph a nude, I’d prefer classy, not – uncomfortable.)
Julian Mandel, Early postcard of Kiki de Montparnasse, c. 1925.
14 x 9 cm.

I simply do not believe that a photograph, while worth 1000 words, has the chops to stand next to the great Masterpieces. Visit The National Gallery, London now through 20 Jan to see Seduced by Art. Let us know if you believe the Old Master’s can possibly be compared, side by side, to photographic imitations. Whether you have a penchant for photographs or painted landscapes, you’re covered: Erotic Photography by Klaus H. Carl, Still Life by Victoria Charles, Nudes by Jp. A. Calosse, Landscapes by Émile Michel.

-Le Lorrain Andrews

4 thoughts on “Can (and should) life truly imitate Art?

  1. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s even worth comparing the two. Two fundamentally different forms of media. You *can* paint a picture of something that’s already there, but as much you can manipulate it, with a photo you *have* to work with something that’s already there. Or: painting’s more of an art and photography is more of a craft, if you want to put a finer point on it. Great paintings are awesome, great photos are awesome too… but in different ways, and I think trying to figure out which is “better” is beside the point, if not downright impossible.

    Also hehe i see some b00b13z in that photo

    1. Glenn, I completely agree – they are not comparable and each excellent in their own right. Which is why The National Gallery (not having an exhibit devoted to photography in over 150 years) should perhaps let the photographs stand alone and keep the Old Masters from turning in their graves. As alluded in previous posts, b00b13z are, of course, fantastic. Thanks and come back soon!

      1. Also, one more thing I didn’t touch on at first. To the question of whether photos are deserving of study for centuries to come, I’d say: why not? If it’s stil around centuries later and still means something to someone, more power to everyone involved.

        But really, as long as we’re in agreement on b00b13z everything else is gravy.

  2. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and everything. Nevertheless imagine
    if you added some great pictures or videos to give your
    posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with
    pics and clips, this site could undeniably be
    one of the greatest in its field. Very good blog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s