Unreal Nature

March 8, 2016

Detached and Involved

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:49 am

… instead of personal angst you have patient observation.

This is from Photo-Realism by Louis K. Meisel (1980; 1985):

“I try for a kind of neutrality or transparency of style that minimizes the artfulness that might prevent the viewer from responding directly to the subject matter. I would like someone looking at the picture to have to deal with the subject without any clues as to just what his reaction should be. I want him to relate to it much as he would to the real thing, perhaps to wonder why anyone should bother to paint it in the first place.

“I think of the photograph, in addition to its being a reference source, as a kind of structure or system for the painting which limits the choices of color and placement. It allows me to keep some of the traditional concerns of the painter — drawing, composition, color relationships — from assuming too important a role, for they are not what the painting is about.

[line break added] Most of the choices are made when the photograph is taken. I try to avoid composing too obviously, aiming for an offhand and casual look. But something about the situation had to attract me to it in the first place, something that suggested that there might be a painting in it. Perhaps whatever “art” the painting might have is given to it at that moment of initial choice.

[line break added] On the other hand, the rather subtle choices that are made as the painting progresses, as I try to re-invent the information in the photograph and make it convincing as painting, may be what gives it its “art.” Whatever the reason, the painting ends up being different from the photograph and certainly different from the “real thing.” When it is successful the picture is evocative in a way that has nothing to do with the processes of making it nor with the subject matter as such.

“… My interest hs nothing to do with satire or social comment though I am aware of the interpretations others might give. I am interested in their ordinariness — their invisibility through familiarity — and in the challenge of trying to make art from such commonplace fare.”

Robert Bechtle, September, 1973

Bechtle_61_Pontiac_1968_69
Robert Bechtle, ’61 Pontiac, 1969

[ … ]

“A painting based on a photograph, while it may be antimodernist, is intrinsically “modern.” I realized that it isn’t just the world we live in that I was interested in depicting, but also our method of recording and perceiving it — the photograph itself. More than just a means of capturing the image, the photograph is part of the subject of the painting.

“We are so inundated with photographs in one form or another — movies, TV, newspapers, etc. — that what a camera does to reality has become a kind of reality itself. This photographic vocabulary is very much a part of my painting.

“… Painting a Photo-Realist painting is a humbling and self-limiting experience: instead of personal angst you have patient observation. You are detached from the connotations of the particular object in a painting, but passionately involved in the painting of that object.” — Tom Blackwell, 1978

Blackwell_window
Tom Blackwell

[ … ]

… When photographing material for his paintings, [John] Salt generally likes just to point the camera, hand-held, at the object and take a lot of pictures. He does not attempt a precise or finished composition. He says he likes what he gets this way — if something is cropped in a strange way, then it is purely by chance that it becomes a good painting. He does, of course, look through hundreds of slides to find the ones that will work as paintings and it is in this editing that many of his decisions are made.

Salt_trailer
John Salt, Pink Trailer with Plymouth, 1974

My previous post from Meisel’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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