Thursday, 15 November 2007

Picasso on what photography brought to painting

On several occasions, Picasso said how photography freed painting from its representational duty. He explained it clearly in his conversations with Brassaï, a well-known French photographer and friend of the artist:

« Quand on voit ce que vous exprimez par la photo, on se rend compte de tout ce qui ne peut plus être le souci de la peinture... Pourquoi l’artiste s’obstinerait-il à rendre ce que à l’aide de l’objectif on peut fixer si bien ? Ce serait une folie, n’est-ce pas ? La photographie est venue à point nommé pour libérer la peinture de toute littérature, de l’anecdote et même du sujet. En tout cas, un certain aspect du sujet appartient désormais au domaine de la photographie... Les peintres ne devraient-ils pas profiter de leur liberté reconquise pour faire autre chose ? »

We can translate this as:

« When we see what you express with photography, one realise all that painting does not need to be concerned with... Why the artist persists in rendering what can be so well captured by a camera’s lens? This would be madness, isn’t it? Photography just came along at the right time to free painting from any narrative function (“literature”), from the trivial and even from the painting subject. In any case, a certain aspect of the subject belongs from now on to the field of photography... Painters should take advantage of this recovered freedom to do something different, shouldn’t they? »

Quoted from “Propos sur l’Art” Picasso (Gallimard – Collection “Art et artistes” – ISBN-10: 207074698-4 – in French), extract from “Conversation avec Picasso” by Brassaï (Gallimard, 1964)

I believe the relationship between photography and painting has evolved into a more complex one, in particular since the advent of digital photography with its potential of images manipulation, get closer to painting.

I don’t think Picasso condemned figurative painting. He just encouraged the artist to open his mind and paint what he feels more than what he sees. The impressionists paved the way and it is no coincidence that photography grew as an art at that time.

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10 ways a painter can use digital photography.

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