In my last blog post, I talked about my re-discovery of multiple exposure images.
Since then, I’ve worked on a good number of new photographs using this style, and a refined viewpoint. I’m also starting to fully understand what works and what doesn’t.
My starting point was the artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and his impressionistic painting “Sea and Rain” – The dreamy effect of the lone man, walking along a foggy beach was remincent of views I see fairly regularly along the East Coast of England. It was paintings similar to this that encouraged me on my way to try and re-create photographically this style of art.
There is a book that I’m keen to get a copy of – it’s entitled “The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874″ and includes the beautiful mid-19th century photography of Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, and others. The Normandy Coast is where Whistler spent time painting, and it is also the time when painters and photographers were trying to capture motion. Whistler was trying to move away from conventional art, and experimenting with a softer style.
In the time following the invention of photography, there was controversy about whether art could be photographic, or whether photographs were merely recording a scene. I would say that the photograph of the French Fleet, Cherbourg, taken by Gustave Le Gray in 1858, shows great artistic quality.
So photography became the ‘new painting’. Did photography influence the painters, or did the painters influence the photography…….? I don’t know the answer..
A trip to the Science and Media Museum in Bradford revealed images by Frank Eugene (whom I remember from my college days) who scratched his negatives, to give a softer feel. As far as I know, no-one before him had tried this, and even the ‘purists’ of the day were said to admire his work.
Nude Man by Frank Eugene
Eugene was one of the founding members of “The Linked Ring” – Also known as “The Brotherhood of the Ring”, a photographic society created to propose and defend that photography was just as much an art as it was a science.
You can access the Linked Ring exhibition catalogues HERE (It can take a while to load even with a fast internet connection, so be careful) – Sadly the photographs themselves are not reproduced, but you can access all the Salon members, and search for their photography. You can also see many adverts for the various processing labs, and cameras that were available in 1903.
I did try searching for some of the images in the catalogue but without success.
So – to go back to the start, you can find more of my impressionistic images on Flickr, by checking the link on the right hand side of the blog, I do hope you enjoy them.
More to come on this topic.
3 thoughts on “Photo Impressionism – Part 2”
My wife paints (watercolour painting, not walls&ceilings! I’m not that lucky😬). In the art circles she’s in are one of two artists who produce “photo realistic” paintings which are so good one could be convinced that they are indeed the work of a photographer, and a good one too. I’m currently following the work of photographers using the Topaz Studio software to give their photographic images a painterly feel and some of the results definitely look more the result of paint than pixels.
Art, I believe, is an image or object that is pleasing to the eye and asks questions of the viewer. So, to the age old question “can photography be art?” I believe it can in the eyes of someone with an open mind who takes pleasure in what they see.
I had no idea she did watercolour painting. I’d love to see some of her work… any chance?
Interesting article and the comparison between art & photography will go on for ever I believe.