So despaired French artist Paul Delarocher, when photography was invented in the mid-nineteenth century. He was wrong.
Rather than a crisis in picture-making, photography brought about a revolution. Artists and critics embraced this new technology and each medium borrowed from the other.
Photographers mimicked paintings: soft focus and highly stylised scenes were an attempt to make this technical new medium painterly. Meanwhile, the accuracy of photographs prompted artists to search for meaning in details that had previously been overlooked.
Victorian art critic John Ruskin called photography:
“a noble invention… Anyone who has worked, blundered and stammered for four days, and then sees the thing he has been trying to do so long done perfectly and faultlessly in half a minute, won’t abuse it afterwards”
The Tate Britain’s new show: ‘Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age', voices the dialogue and mutual influences between these media.
Walking into the exhibition, you’re sure it can only be a dead cert. Pre-Raphaelites, Victorian Photography and Ruskin. What could possibly go wrong?
Rather a lot, it turns out. The very first room is dedicated to an arid dull collaboration between photographer Robert Adamson and painter Octavioi Hill, who were aiming to capture the city of Edinburgh. The jaundiced, repetitive images are singularly dull. Your heart sinks.
And there isn’t much to raise it in the next few rooms. We’re show endless juxtapositions of paintings and photographs, in what turns out to be an academic and bone-dry exhibition. There are no focal points; it feels like a boggy jumble. Unless you’re an expert on the period, you’re left out in the cold.
It’s baffling that a show containing Whistler’s nocturnes, Rossetti’ Proserpine, Wallis’ Death of Thomas Chatterton and Julia Margaret Cameron’s hazy masterpieces could have so little bite. Once again the Tate Britain fails to thrill.
|What||Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age, review Tate Britain|
|Where||Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Pimlico (underground)|
11 May 16 – 25 Sep 16, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Price||£Prices not yet released|
|Website||Click here for more details|