Moravian Gallery in Brno: L’étude d’après nature

L'étude d'après nature
19th Century Photography and Art

24/2/2012 – 20/5/2012

Curator: Petra Trnková

Building: Pražák Palace
Date of exhibition opening: 23/2/2012, 17:00

Although the relationship to fine arts in the 19th century is a most remarkable area in the history of photography, the local artistic output which contributed to the forming of the relationship – whether in the medium of photography, painting, sculpting or graphic art – has so far not been paid the attention it deserves. The exhibition attempts to at least partly make up for this omission and to point out some of the problems that artists and photographers, at home and abroad, faced in this field: alongside photography serving as a model or the artistic ambitions of photographers the exhibitions also looks at techniques adopted from fine art and applied to photography or the phenomenon of “living pictures”.

We know that artists started to use photography very soon after its invention and appearance in the public domain thanks to the publications abroad that dealt with this issue. It is equally well-known that photography, just as with the camera obscura that preceded it, was not the "domain" of less creative talents. Regardless, the relationship between photography and art was wide-ranging, complex and bilateral. The exhibition will therefore both highlight specific works where the artists used photography as an aid, and take notice of other related aspects as well.

Special attention is naturally paid to the application of traditional principles in art – especially those concerning picture composition – to photography, whether they would be photographs of the landscape, architecture, portraits, still-lifes or other genres. One of the themes is also the issue of a photograph as a copy or imitation of a specific artefact and the role of photography as reproduction of art which was closely related to the evolution of art collections and museums. An important thematic circle encompasses photographing so-called living pictures – tableaux vivants – reaching across boundaries into the domains of music, theatre and literature. In this respect photography was used both as an aid in composing famous masterworks and even more frequently as a means of resisting the passing nature of living pictures, as it was the photographic medium that was used to conserve the memory of a particular living picture, the making of which usually represented an important social event. The exhibition also focuses on the specific area of collaboration between a photographer and an architect, photographing painters and painting photographers, ways of selfpresentation of the photographers in the second half of the 19th century who were often as extravagant as painters and other artists. Last but not least, the display delves into the prehistory of the relationship of photography and art as it had naturally developed from the advent of the camera obscura.

Further issues that emerge from the framework of the outlined themes include imitation and representation, the particularities of a photographic portrait of an artist, photographic illustration of period aesthetic and art theories, the relationship between photography and the beginnings of modern landscape painting and the role of art academies.

In the Czech milieu the subject of the relationship between 19th century photography and the other art disciplines has not yet been thoroughly researched and published, while foreign publications dealing with the subject are generally concerned with Western Europe only.

Moravian Gallery in Brno
www.moravska-galerie.cz

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