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.
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.
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?
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