I recently had an incredible discussion that completely shifted my perspective on how we describe photography. It all started when I casually mentioned the word “vermillion” to describe the color of a Torii Gate in Japan. While American’s don’t typically use that word, in Japan Vermillion is the classic color of a Torii Gate. Little did I know that this simple choice of A word would spark a mind-blowing conversation with none other than Michael Newler.
Our discussion delved deep into the essence of photography and its relation to the world of classical painting. Michael astutely pointed out that my use of vivid and evocative language, such as “vermillion,” aligned me more with the soul of a painter than that of a photographer. And thus began a captivating debate (discussion) on how photographers approach and discuss their work in contrast to their counterparts in the realm of classical art.
I was really fascinated because for classic painters, art was often regarded as a unique language capable of expressing emotions, ideas, and narratives. They viewed their works as a means of communication, transcending the limitations of verbal language. Renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci emphasized the importance of visual storytelling, using paintings as a medium to convey complex narratives. Painters like Rembrandt believed that art could evoke powerful emotions and illuminate the depths of the human experience.
The classic painters often saw their art as a reflection of the world around them. They sought to capture the beauty of nature, the human form, and the interplay of light and shadow. Artists like Claude Monet and the Impressionists aimed to explore the fleeting nature of reality, capturing the essence of a moment rather than reproducing exact details. The Dutch masters, such as Johannes Vermeer, focused on creating meticulously detailed scenes that mirrored domestic life of the 17th century.
The words and the paintings really worked in tandem. Imagination played a significant role in the artistic discourse of classic painters. The ability to envision and create worlds within their artwork allowed painters to transcend reality and saturate their works with a sense of wonder and mystery. Take Salvador Dali who I studied in college. He was a prominent surrealist painter, believed that the imagination was a powerful force that could unlock hidden truths and reveal the depths of the subconscious.
Religious symbolism is seen in the works of Renaissance painters like Michelangelo and Raphael who aimed to convey spiritual messages and moral lessons. Symbolism was also prevalent in the works of Dutch still-life painters, who used objects such as flowers, skulls, and hourglasses to convey ideas about the transience of life.
Classic painters held strong beliefs about the importance of individual artistic vision and self-expression. They sought to convey their unique perspectives and emotions through their works, often challenging established norms and conventions. Take Vincent van Gogh, with his highly expressive style, which aimed to capture the essence of his emotional experiences through color and brushwork.
Classic painters not only left behind an extraordinary visual legacy but also provided us with glimpses into their creative minds through their discussions of art. Their views on art as a language, a reflection of the world, the role of imagination, symbolism, and self-expression continue to shape our understanding and appreciation of art today. By studying their words and contemplating their works, we can gain a deeper insight into the profound impact of art.
Unfortunately all of this is excepted with painting but when it comes to photography it seems that none of this matters. However, that needs to be addressed and corrected, and, boy would I like to change that or at least start a new modern Renaissance movement……!!!
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