Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Photographs, Art and . . .

"But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: 'It's clever, but is it Art?' "
- Rudyard Kipling, The Conundrums of the Workshops

My son sent me the pics above by telephone as examples of amazing art. He had seen them on Facebook.  They are by a 22 year old Italian artist Diego Fazio, who is self taught and who started as a tattoo artist. 

Some time ago I posted an item about the works of Alyssa Monks, who also works in the style known as photorealism. In commenting on her works, some of which appear below, I raised some questions about photorealism. Those questions remain, in my mind at least, pertinent and topical. 

The photorealism movement began in the late 60’s and early ‘70’s. The strict definition used to be that it was an art movement that used cameras and photographs to gather visual information which was then used to create a painting that resembled a photograph in its detail and realistic appearance. I’m not too sure that a modern day definition requires that the information be gathered by a camera, although perusal of photorealistic works often look like having been copied from photographs and, in many cases, are indistinguishable from photographs. These days the most basic computers and programs enable image manipulation to varying degrees, such that the term “photoshopped” has come to mean image manipulation. Just as artists can make paintings look like photographs, a computer user can make a photograph look like an art work. 

Some questions to ponder as you look at examples of photorealistic art: 
  • How does photorealism affect you? Do you look at it for a second or two and move on? 
  • If a painting looks exactly like a photograph, why not just take the photograph?
  • Has the artist done more (or less) in the art work then simply paint a copy of a photograph? Is there something more than just an image? 
  • Is photorealism more suited to some subject matter than others eg portraiture, naval vessels, military engagements? 
  • What is the nature and function of art? Just to look pretty? To say something? To inspire emotion, discussion, to make us look at something in a different way, to challenge? Does photorealism do that? 
As usual, Mr Phelps, should any member of your team be...oops, wrong comment. 

What I meant to say was, as usual, I pose the questions, not supply answers or opinions. 

Here are some more examples of photorealism: 

Alyssa Monk

Tom Martin

Wayne Forrest creates his pieces with Adobe Illustrator 

Rob Hefferan 

Krzysztof Lukasiewicz

Dan Witz 

Richard Estes 

Now, who prefers the following, and why? Again, no answers given  . . .

Lenoid Afremov 


No, not shock jock Kyle Sandilands, but artist Jason Mecier (USA), who uses various materials to make collage portraits, the items used matching the nature or aspects of the person he is portraying.  Often the works are purchased by the subject of the portrait.

Amy Winehouse, made from pills 

Barak Obama, made from red, white and blue items 

Pink was so impressed with her portrait that she bought it and used it in her music video for Please Don't Leave Me

Just kidding you, this is from the movie Pleasantville, which has some thought provoking themes including art. If you haven’t ever seen it, it's worthwhile doing so.

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