Oct 26, 2011

REVIEW | Shared Intelligence: Painting and the Photograph, Barbra Buhler Lynes and Johnathan Weinberg, University of California press, 2011

Cover of Shared Intelligence
In the most famous remark about the invention of photography, the nineteenth-century French artist Paul Delaroche declared: "from today painting is dead!"
As the opening lines of the book this quote sets the mood for a critical view of photography versus painting. The perplexing question that has daunted painters and photographers since the invention of photography on whether which is better, and how each is an art form on its own. In this book Lynes  and Weinberg compare and contrast painting and photography and how it can be a harmonious mix of both. As a photography major I was titillated by this book because it doesn't bash either painting or photography. It simply places them side by side so that one can take a look at them together from a non-bias perspective. Then places them together as one.

Robert Bechtle is one of the artists featured in the book, his paintings are created using a photograph as how he starts his works. When asked " How do you use photographs to make your paintings?" He replied
 ... I started getting interested in more accuracy and more resolution, less painterliness... I was painting from life at that point. I realized that I was cutting myself off from a lot of interesting stuff that was outside the studio that would've required a different kind of painting practice in order to pull it off. I resorted to the photograph as a substitute for the sketchbook.

Robert Bechtle, Alameda Chrysler, 1981
 For many reasons this painting and photography as a combination has intrigued me. In all art history's I have taken previously they make it a point to point out that you have to pick one side or another you cant do both or have both. Using photography as a means for a sketchbook is one way to incorporate photography and painting, another is how Barkley Hendricks does. Hendricks uses a digital print with silkscreen to create some of his works. He also uses photography as a sketchbook.

Barkley Hendricks, Ironic Dexter, digital prints silk screen 2008 

When Hendricks was asked bout feeling anxiety from working with and from photographs he replied.
It is a mechanical sketchbook, and I can manipulate it the way that I want to. I don't have to be held captive to the image. There is no guilt, so to speak. the only guild is that I'd love to have more time with the live models... Some images I had to shoot on the fly.
 This book goes through the painting verses photograph like a time line all the way up to now where you can use both to create a mass-up or just as a means to get and accurate painting. It is still controversial whether which one is better than the other but the book ends with them being harmoniously one. It is filled with great images, and the works and topics flow in a timeline like fashion. Paint or photography, how about both.

Jessica Guerra


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