Painters and paintings, inspiration for the photographer?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by keith_laban, Dec 2, 2003.

  1. There rarely seems to be any mention here of painters and paintings
    as inspiration for photographers. Why is this? Are painters and
    paintings a source of inspiration for your own work as a photographer?
  2. Absolutely. Painting over the past 100 years has really
    deconstructed the picture plane to it's most formal elements.
    The language that surrounds painting is really useful in
    describing and filling the two dimensional picture plane that is

    Abstract painting in particular forces one to analyse the picture
    plane purely based on it's visual content. There are no symbolic
    or narrative clues with which to read the two dimensional plane
    or "picture." Understanding this sense of space helps in
    organizing photographic space strictly based on what falls into
    the picture plane. Then, the photographic narrative and symbolic
    elements can be dealt with in the forefront.
  3. They aren't an influence on me.
  4. My influences are entirely photographic and cinematographic.
  5. Oh, yes! Particularly the Old Dutch Masters (the painters, not the cigars), Edward Hopper, the Wyeths, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec.
  6. I don't get a lot of inspiration from painters or paintings. I do appreciate them and relish the opportunity to view them in person. But I see it as apples and oranges. I suspect you would get the same type of reply from a painter.
  7. If by "source of inspiration" you mean "a good place from which
    to steal ideas," then yes, painters are definitely a source of
    inspiration to me (as are writers and musicians).
  8. Hey Keith... Everything I have done recently is inspired by Painters. Photographers are so locked into conventional thought and techical perfection that the art in it is lost. Painters (the masters and the amatures) recreate the world as they see it. Photographers (these days) create it as everyone else wants to see it. That is sad...
  9. vermeer
  10. "Painters (the masters and the amatures) recreate the world as they see it. Photographers (these days) create it as everyone else wants to see it."
    This is a good point. Many photographers seem to get their inspiration and motivation solely from the work of their peers. Why is it that artists, amateur and professional alike, constantly strive for originality, whilst it could be argued that many photographers aspire only to the work of their peers? I realise that this is perhaps a little off topic, but find the reason for this and it might give a clue to why many photographers are seemingly blinkered.
    "But I see it as apples and oranges. I suspect you would get the same type of reply from a painter."
    I have to disagree with this. Many painters use photography as inspiration, reference and use the medium of photography itself.
  11. Artists have been drawing, painting, sculpting, and otherwise representing still-life for 500 years, but there is only one Pepper #30.
  12. Dave N.:
    Editors, gallery owners, and critics have a powerful influence on what succeeds, that is, what we get to see, hear, and read. They are as much to blame as we are. Film is a medium that encourages experimentation and everyone does it, but what we eventually see is what somebody deems useful.

    I like to photograph waves. There is a practically endless number of ways to render surf. I am always fascinated by the way painters paint the surf and look at it very carefully. I am sure I have learned from this.
  13. The best artists are the ones who have the most influences, the ones who are the most curious. Great artists are intellectualy voracious types of people. Being a student of painting and other two dimensional and three dimensional media is just part of what it means to be an educated person. Look at an artists bookself and you will find poetry, history, fiction, the sciences and anything else you can think of.

    I am also speaking about the performing arts and writing. I spend a good amount of time hanging around with artists and I can tell you that if you want to get into some interesting conversation, go find some really good artists because they will talk about everything but what they specifically do. You can use the same language to talk about photography as you do about Thelonius Monk or van Gogh or George Balanchine, Monet, Bach, Brancussi, Maya Angelou, Herman Melville, Picasso, Vladimir Horowitz, Romare Bearden or Sammy Davis Jr. at the Sands.

    Besides, how can you look at Rembrandt,Vermeer, El Greco, Millet, Cezanne and many many others and not be inspired or atlease learn alot about lighting and color and composition. Why not have a full experience? Why not study at the foot of a master?
  14. Absolutely... but in an unconscious way. I don't go out with the idea in my head to
    make a photograph that looks like a Rothko painting, but I have come to realize that I
    have an artistic predisposition to make images that, when I look at them later, remind
    me of my favorite artists. So yes, I am inspired by impressionists such as Monet, by
    post-impressionist Van Gogh and his vibrant colors, by Seurat's pointillism, and by
    the abstract expressionists - mainly Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, and Georgia

    What draws me to these artists and their works is their strong emphasis on color as a
    subject and their study of light. Monet made numerous paintings simply to study how
    light changed throughout the day and how the change in light changed his subject --
    what is more important to us as photographers than the changing quality of light?
    Seurat's pointillist paintings are like an early form of inkjet prints. (Ever look at your
    Epson printed photograph through a loop or magnifier?) And the way Van Gogh and
    the abstract expressionists chose to depict their world with such vibrant, strong
    colors... well, we do the same everytime we load Velvia in our cameras.

    I find it interesting that for so long, painters attempted to make images look as
    realistic as possible (just like a photograph, before photography had been
    discovered). Then photography caught on and became the primary means for making
    portraits of people... so painting turned the other direction, becoming more
    impressionistic and abstract. Now there seems to be a trend in photography for it to
    become abstract and impressionistic so as to make fine art photography differ from
    snapshot-ography. What's next?
  15. Take a look at Paul Strand's photograph, Church, Vermont, 1944.

    He sets the frame slightly off center. The church at first looks
    annoyingly clipped on the right side. Then, if you relax and except
    that Strand knows what he is doing, the picture plane comes
    alive in a geometry of triangles, rectangles, squares, a circle, a
    patch of dramatic sky, a bit of tree. No one dominates the picture
    space. The arrangement creates a geometric composition as
    complex as any abstract painting.

    Here Strand activates the entire picture plane with energetic
    composition, thinking exactly as a modern painter would. ie. how
    do we fill the space and formally activate it at the same time?
    The photograph is perfect. And it builds on the arrangements of
    space that painting was developing in his day. He could not
    compose this photograph in any way different than he has and
    get the same effect. Every component is essential. That is as
    much painting as photography.
  16. Great minds think alike, I suppose, Keith. I had once submitted almost the same exact question about a year ago, but some "hero" struck it down. I can always count on you to come up with and run slightly different versions of my own thoughts past the obvious progeny of the Hays Office censors. :)

    Yes, color is paramount in how I am influenced by the great painters.
    To me......

    Edward Hopper - Fuji Velvia
    Winslow Homer - Kodak Vericolor III 160
    Andrew Wyeth - Kodak Ektar 25 w/ neutral density filter
    Salvador Dali - Agfa Ultra 50
    John Waterhouse - Kodachrome 64 w/ 81A filter
    Roy Liechtenstein - Agfa RSX II - 50
    El Greco - Kodachrome 64 w/ 81C filter
    Piet Mondrian - Fuji Astia 100
    Thomas Kincaid - Kodak Max 400 in a one-time-use camera hand-retouched by a graduate from the correspondence school of painting on the back of a matchbook cover
    Alberto Vargas - Fuji 64 Tungsten
    Michelangelo - Kodak Portra NC-160
    Karin Kneffel - Agfa Optima II 100
    Charles Burchfield - Konica VX-100
    Maxfield Parrish - Polaroid 669

    Great question, Keith! I guess this "Philosophy of Photography" is a new category.
  17. Here goes again, with more typographical clarity:
    Edward Hopper - Fuji Velvia; Winslow Homer - Kodak Vericolor III 160; Andrew Wyeth - Kodak Ektar 25 w/ neutral density filter; Salvador Dali - Agfa Ultra 50; John Waterhouse - Kodachrome 64 w/ 81A filter; Roy Liechtenstein - Agfa RSX II 50; El Greco - Kodachrome 64 w/ 81C filter; Piet Mondrian - Fuji Astia 100; Thomas Kincaid - Kodak Max 400 in a one-time-use camera hand-retouched by a graduate from the correspondence school of painting on the back of a matchbook cover; Alberto Vargas - Fuji 64 Tungsten; Michelangelo - Kodak Portra NC-160; Karin Kneffel - Agfa Optima II 100; Charles Burchfield - Konica VX-100; Maxfield Parrish - Polaroid 669
  18. I especially like the Thomas Kincaid conversion.
  19. What have you got against Kodak Max 400?
  20. Not only painting but music. The photograph differs from the painting in two essentials. The painting is an integration over a relatively long period of time, the photograph is an instant in time. The painter can edit the subject as the picture is painted, rearranging or omitting elements; the photograph includes all that is present at that time in the spatial relationships that existed at that instant.

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