Monday, 17 June 2013

Why do they do that?

I've been chewing my way through Landscape and Western Art by Malcolm Andrews and on the whole I've found it a fascinating - often enlightening read. But he's just irritated me.
Chapter 8 covers the development of landscape painting in the context of a growing scientific understanding of the world. In it he notes the increasing role of photography as the instrument of pictorial naturalism, and asserts photography's inability to express the rhythmic energy of a site or its vitality.
So far, so fair - but the evidence Andrews produces to support this is a comparison by someone called Machotka between a Cezanne and a 1930 photo of the same view by a Professor of Art History. Come on! Is that reasonable? Why not compare an Adams, a Weston or a Rowell (got the book - now understand the attraction better) with an amateur oil painting by a Photography Prof and see where that takes us.
It would be amazing if there were not things that each medium does best, but what is served by this kind of facetious comparison?

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