Sunday, June 7, 2015

Photography vs. Painting.

If you had to pick one art form to represent mankind - what would it be?
You might want to choose painting or photography. But is it possible to choose only one art form?
The discussion began in 1839 with the invention of photography. The artist Paul Delaroche stated that, “from today, painting is dead”. Since that time painting is still alive and there are still different points of view on both art forms. Let’s try to find arguments that support different standpoints.
1.    Painting represents mankind better than photography.

- Painting is the “pure art”; paintings represent images related to the artist’s imagination.

- Here are some great names that everyone knows: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne,  August Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso. This list demonstrates how gifted mankind can be (and we can add more great names to this list).

- Painting itself might be an expression of our humanity.


- Photographs became thoughtful, but they have nothing to do with the metaphysical, magnetic paintings of the past, such as the Mona Lisa.

- Weighty opinions:
 “I always think photographs abominable, and I don’t like to have them around, particularly not those of persons I know and love... photographic portraits wither much sooner than we ourselves do, whereas the painted portrait is a thing which is felt, done with love or respect for the human being that is portrayed.” (Vincent Van Gogh)
 “Painting… makes use of all modes of sensorial knowledge—the tactile, oral, auditory, even the olfactory—to supplement the visual. Whereas photography is only able to provide us with information derived from light, painting provides us with an image of the interrelationship of the senses.”  (Richard Hennessy) 
 “If a painter wants to show large objects and surf, this can be arranged: he has only to get himself the right-size canvas. He is the monarch of all he surveys. The photographer, on the other hand, is the slave of his range finder.” (Janet Malcolm)
 “People are always trying to find the next groovy thing, and it hasn’t gone back to painting... I’d like it to go back to painting. I’m sick of all this photography and video. There’s so much of it, it’s almost annoying.” (Cindy Sherman)

2.    Photography represents mankind better than painting.

- Photography demonstrates how far mankind has come: a camera captures life itself as it happens.

- Without photography what could people have known of the icebergs, the volcanoes, the nuclear disasters; about World Wars, wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

- Nowadays with cameras on cell phones or other mobile devices photography is more accessible than ever.

- A photographer can create a photograph as magnetic as a painting.

-    Weighty opinions:
 “The first effect of looking at a good photograph through the stereoscope is a surprise such as no painting ever produced. The mind feels its way into the very depths of the picture. The scraggy branches of a tree in the foreground run out at us as if they would scratch our eyes out.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
 “While we give it credit only for depicting the merest surface, [the daguerreotype] actually brings out the secret character with a truth that no painter would even venture upon, even if he could detect it.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
 “Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.” (Ansel Adams)
“The adventurer in me felt obliged to testify with a quicker instrument than a brush to the scars of the world.” (Henri Cartier-Bresson)
 “As to the painters and their fanciers, I snort defiance at them; their day of daubs is over.” (George Bernard Shaw)
“I can take a camera and paint with it. Nobody has exhausted the possibilities of the camera.” (Weegee)
“All photographs are far more important than any painting.” (Gerhard Richter)
 “Photography, not soft gutless painting, is best equipped to bore into the spirit of today.” Edward  Weston
“...isn’t it astonishing that a hundred years after the invention of photography, painters still persist in doing something which requires so much hard work and perseverance and could be done better and more quickly with a Kodak.” (Man Ray)
 “A photograph is to a painting what an automobile is to a horse. A rider on his horse is a beautiful thing, but I prefer a man in an airplane.” (Man Ray)
“Which of us could achieve this exactitude... this delicate modeling... indeed, what a wonderful thing photography is—but one dare not say that aloud.” (Jean-Dominique Ingres)
 “I have always been very interested in photography. I have looked at far more photographs than I have paintings. Because their reality is stronger than reality itself.” (Francis Bacon)
“One begins to understand that painting is not our means of expression. It is a medium that comes from the past. Now there are new means of expression. There is television. There is the cinema, film. And one begins to understand that it is the photographic image which is the means to expression of our century.” (Brassa├»)
 “It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary.” (David Bailey)
“Photography is a strong tool, a propaganda device, and a weapon for the defense of the environment... Photographs are believed more than words; thus they can be used persuasively to show people who have never taken the trouble to look what is there. They can point out beauties and relationships not previously believed or suspect to exist.” (Eliot Porter)
I am not insisting that you accept my point of view, but I hold the view that both painting and photography could represent mankind.

 Despite the general consensus creating a good photograph (not only a good picture) requires a certain amount of dedication and time.  It depends on the artist and the image.

Painting is an art form. Photography is an art form too. Photography must never be an art form with the goal to imitate painting. And vice versa painting must never be an art form with the goal to imitate photography.
Let us enjoy the two art forms without comparing.

And there are weighty opinions for the 3 point of view.
 “The artists of the coming generation will seriously consider the camera as well as the brush their medium of expression.”  (Hans Richter)
 “I don’t see a big difference between painting and photography. Moreover, such distinctions mean nothing to me.” (Sigmar Polke)
 “With a painting, you’re taking basic building blocks and making something that’s more complex than what you started with. It is a synthetic process. A photograph does the opposite: It takes the world, and puts an order on it, simplifies it.” (Stephen Shore)
 “I photograph what I do not wish to paint and I paint what I cannot photograph.” (Man Ray)
 “I have two pairs of eyes—one to paint, and one to take photographs. There is little relationship between the two.”  (Jacques-Henri Lartigue)
 “Ideally I would like the work to be a hybrid between painting and photography.”  (John Baldessari)
 “In my view, photography and painting really share one history. The influences that work on one, work on the other.” (Jack Welpott) 
 “My interest in photography, paralleling that in painting, has been based on admiration for its possibility of accounting for the visual world with an exactitude not equaled by any other medium. The difference in the manner of arrival at their destination—the painting being a result of composite image and the photograph being a result of a single image—prevents these media from being competitive.” (Charles Sheeler)

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned!