Photography and painting


Photography and painting are figurative arts which, although dissimilar in technique, have the common characteristic of representing in two dimensions, what manifests itself in nature, in the volumetric space, in three dimensions, reducing the image of a subject in itself three-dimensional. Both make use of the use of composition which is sometimes also enriched by perspective. The latter, although easier to render immediately in photography, requires, in this context, a more technical and complex work when it must be eliminated, forcing the photographer to adopt particular apertures, to reduce the depth of field and then flatten the image. Despite this, there is still the possibility for the two arts to manage the perspective vision. Even color, an essential tool of representation for painting, is also for photography, albeit with the option of black and white which eliminates it, an irreplaceable compositional element. Hence, the camera can have the same function as the brush and perform the same task. But the photograph starts from an impressionable surface that will never be a clean slate like the painter's canvas and above all, theoretically, once the shot has started, you will no longer have the possibility to intervene on the reproduced image, if not by resorting to subsequent exposures or photomontages and the flexibility obtainable with the canvas and the brush will never be reachable. In this sense, photography becomes expressively more restrictive than painting, which can make use of infinite reworkings. But as mentioned above, this is only theoretically, because with the advent of PHOTOSHOP, the world of photography has undergone a radical revolution, both in creativity and in representativeness and today modern photographers create images that, as in painting they are pure fantasy and do not relate to real and natural representations. We observe The Tower of Babel, a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, known as the Great Tower, from 1563 and The Tower of Babel, photograph of the Great Tower, by Emily Allchurch.

The Tower of Babel - Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Tower of Babel - photograph by Emily Allchurch

The photographic image maintains the same volume as the painting and even the sky is the same, but the details are different. The photographer started from Bruegel's canvas and gradually replaced, with the help of Photoshop, elements of the composition with others of her own invention and by adding or removing details she arrived at the result we see. This is just an example of what you can do with Photoshop and today every photographer makes use of it, sometimes even exaggeratedly and then we will see women, no longer very young with the skin of a twenty-year-old, slender and slender figures, eyes of a color different from the real one and so on, with an overproduction of images that, despite having a commercial value, lose the charm of the shot, becoming little more than graphic academisms. David Hamilton, English photographer, who became famous for his photos made with soft and soft focus filters, has a particular relationship with painting, drawing from this inspiration, both as regards the compositional aspect and for the subjects portrayed, creating images that at times they are real re-propositions of works by distinguished masters of the brush. In the representation of ballet dancers, a subject portrayed several times, the reference to Edgar Degas is evident.

Dancer with tutu - Photograph by David Hamilton

Dancer - Painting by Edgar Degas

In Hamilton we find the elegance of the French painter's paintings, the same evanescence of the costumes and above all the same warm and soft atmosphere that animates the scene. Even the light, in both artists, is never direct, but comes from the side, burning some parts of the tutu. From The Sisters series, let's analyze the following photo

The Sisters in the Pool - Photograph by David Hamilton

and we observe two paintings by the English painter Sir Lawrece Alma-Tadema.

Painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

The transparency of the water, the girls' hairstyle, the refinement of the whole, the general sense of clarity are clear references to the painting on the left, while on the right the light of the marble brings us back to the tone of the tiles and cannot go unnoticed. white-blue light which is the true protagonist of the work of Hamilton and Alma Tadema. Also Hamilton, he wanted to dedicate one of his shots to the great Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, who has as his particular characteristic that of portraying subjects in front of the window. And the window is always on the left. The Master loved to paint at home and probably the rooms of his mansion all projected on the same side, so that there is a copious production of canvases with the light always coming from a window to the left of the subject.

Here are some examples:

Girl with a glass of wine - Painting by Jan Vermeer - 1659

Woman reading in front of the window - Painting by Jan Vermeer - 1657

The Weigher of Pearls - Painting by Jan Vermeer - 1664

Note how over the years, Vermeer has never changed the origin of the light and for each subject, he has found the window at the right height to be able to illuminate the faces of women. And here is David Hamilton with a photograph of him entitled (it could not be otherwise): Homage to Vermeer.

Tribute to Vermeer - Photograph by David Hamilton

Finally, to conclude with Hamilton, even if you want, for this Photographer you could still find many references to famous paintings, let's look at his reinterpretation of The Three Graces by Raffaello Sanzio.

The Three Graces - Painting by Raffaello Sanzio

The Three Graces - Photograph by David Hamilton

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