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February, 2012

Being a Painter/Photographer

February 2nd, 2012

For 50 years I’ve split my efforts between painting and photography. Looking at the history of photography we could argue that it ushered in the impressionists. They were much aware of photography. Degas took photographs. Their first exhibition was in Nadar’s Studio. And so on … Almost all of these painters had a direct involvement with photography. Going back in history a little, we know that Courbet on occasion worked from photographs. So the questions of questions:

Why, today, do we continue to insist that they remain separated?

In our supposedly advanced civilization can we not have a recognition of a visual artist who does it all?

I vividly remember, a few years after I was in France, a encounter with a woman. I was on a stroll with my camera. This woman wanted to know if I was not the painter. Upon acknowledgement that I was she verbally attacked me for taking photographs. Duh. I mention France, but this mode of thinking had already been presented to me in the U.S. Yet, today, we are being led into an appreciation of photo-realistic painting. To me, this is a banal form of painting that sacrifices the visual presentation of light as we see it. Not photographically. As we SEE it. Not as a mechanical analogue/digital tool record it. And here is where we fail to appreciate the difference. It is not particularly subtle.

Photography and painting are two sides of the same coin. Bottom line, they are both direct links to understanding perception.

On a lighter note, we are experiencing change at an unprecedented speed. All roads lead to Rome. And of course, the Greeks. As we evolve as a social group, human beings are perched on the edge of their next stage of evolution. Bring it on.

French version: Être peintre et photographe

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