“Great” photography & Pompier painters, part 1/2

Ce qui est trop parfait met Dieu en colère
“What is too perfect makes God angry”

 

Academic Art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. In the 19th Century, the French called it “l’art pompier”, especially historical or allegorical ones. It derives from the helmets with horse-hair tails, worn at the time by French firemen, which are similar to the Attic helmet often worn in such works by allegorical personifications, classical warriors, or Napoleonic cavalry. It also suggests pompeux (“pompous”).

Pompier art was seen by those who used the term as the epitome of the values of the bourgeoisie, and as insincere and overblown.

These painters (like Gérôme or Bouguereau) had a splendid technique, but they stayed in History, in this Pompier catégory : boring and perfectly made.

 

Now I admit there’s a guilty pleasure watching these guys’s works. But this is NOT what you want to study for months, right? Which I did with Manet…

There’s a pattern here : an annoying dance between “It’s splendidly made” and “It’s nowhere inventing here”, no emotion, just technique…

If we agree in the core of Arts (“What’s new here?”), we can watch this pattern/structure in onther places, like photography. This will be the part 2!

Thanks for reading!

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Intentional Maladjustments & Braiding Assessments

Here are a few pictures where I put the cursor incorrectly. Maladjustments.

Too much grain from too big ISO. Unfocusing. Underexposing. Motion blur from opening too long. Overexposing…

Et tout ça intentionnellement ! Of course, most of the time, it’s intentional…

AndI wanted first to write an article from it, something like :

In what other fields do we (or could we) invent intentional maladjustments? Poetry? Teaching? Architecture? Why? What does it bring?

 

I think it’s one of the core of this blog. My state of mind does this all the time. I watch a bunch of pictures, and it’s automatically weaving : I braid assessments, from the simple (I like it/I don’t) grow branches of analysis : How is it made? What does the photographer want? And in the hole pack, where’s the structure/pattern?

And a few more, probably, but I stop here because it’s three. A braid – in French, c’est une tresse…

The structure I show here is : intentional maladjustments.

The guy who invented penicillin shows another structure : serendipity, or fortunate discovery – which is very amusing to explore, leading to one of the most pleasant quote I ever found (from Pasteur) :

Chance favors the prepared mind

 

I finish with this question : how do you use this “mental gymnastics” process (the game of finding structures)? Why is it useful? When could it be useless, or even harmful?

In front of Art (example : “The Unhinger” : Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (1863) is a MESS), do you just plunge into it, finding beauty, or do you immediately want to read about it or meet the artist, to understand what he wants (in him/for you)?

Have a nice day!

 

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The traditional version of this story describes the discovery as a serendipitous accident: in his laboratory in the basement of St Mary’s Hospital in London, Fleming noticed a Petri dish containing Staphylococci that had been mistakenly left open was contaminated by blue-green mould from an open window, which formed a visible growth. There was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth around the mould. Fleming concluded that the mould released a substance that repressed the growth and caused lysing of the bacteria.

Wrong Way Up and… the game of “finding structures”

 

 

 

Passages of Valéry – from prose to verse; from speech to song; from walking to dancing

Paul Valéry plays :

The passage from prose to verse; from speech to song; from walking to dancing.
Le passage de la prose au vers; de la parole au chant; de la marche à la danse.

He found a structure, this “passage”. What is it, an elevation? Probably, right?

He notices something :

The purpose of dance is not to transport me from here to there.

The person who organizes or triggers the passage from 1 to 2 has obviously a will. A will for?

Speech tells details about things, it parcels out things, it labels things. A song adds a freedom-movement, brings other reasons for words, and make them mobile. As does poetry.

Dancing, poems, songs : all are rushing to feed a fire. What fire?

Let’s come back to the passage :

from prose to verse; from speech to song; from walking to dancing

It’s a tool. From A to B, bringing this, quitting that.

Where could we apply it? To other universes? Teaching? Photography?

What about meta? What would be the passage from prose to verse to (up again)?

Thanks for reading!

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Smart Simplicity vs Subtle Complexities

Today I ask for your help with a dual idea. Some artists with a long life and experience tend towards :

  1. The essential : Simplicity. Refining. Paring down.
  2. Smart subtleties : Not the simplicity, which is senseless, but secret and modest complexity.

 

Maybe 1. works for painters and other visual artists and 2. for writers and other ideas‘ artists? – another article to write.

Of course there are other ways of being mature, like “to dare more”, or “being decadent”.

 

Do you have examples? Poets, directors, photographers? Can you weave one and two without being paradoxical? Do we have to care for layers of creativity? What about the audience?

What about the contraries? It’s common that young creatives tend to give everything they have in their first big projects…

What do you think?

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Whyhow you should know your art

ONE

I talked with a woman working in a photography school.

“The first year, all our students work on analog photography only!”

Waow, in the the digital era, it’s a big deal, right?

Every cam today can keep hundreds or thousands of pictures on a little cheap SD Card. It’s so easy to try, trigger, take bunches of photos until you have a great one, that some photographers buy vintage cams to get :

  1. the splendid grain or texture of real film rolls
  2. but also the necessary meticulousness of the whole process

Choosing a brand for films, choosing settings for the cam, choosing how and when you take a picture, developing : all this becomes important, much more important : rolls are expensive!

This makes you focus.

Therefore it makes perfect sense to begin photography with analog cams.

TWO

Picasso or Klimt and many other painters began with the big knowledge of being great “classical” artists. Manet began to make what ignorants called “mistakes” (showing paintbrush strokes, flattening perspectives). Picasso told that he needed years to un-learn it :

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THREE

Martin L. Gore, composer/singer of Depeche Mode, explains that a song, before going to production with synths and beat-boxes, has to “sound” great with a single voice/acoustic guitar. Before. If it’s good, you can alter textures : the harmonic structure stays good.

TOOL

Where else do we find and use this pattern?

“Know the difficult core of your Art before exploring it, breaking rules or pushing it: you’ll be better”.

Thanks for reading!

Layers of WHYs

Is the art for you and your happiness? Or for others?

Let’s take photography. Why do I do that?

I wondered a lot already about his :

 

OK Here are 4 pictures. For the first one I had to : the cat was great, the verticals were profuse, interesting (light, reflections, shadows), the textures were puzzling (white, bricks, blue), and I love the stairs of books. Plus the darks were dark (I love underexposed photos).

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I took this one in Orsay’s Museum. Silhouette, vertical lines, the walls of Paris. I knew it was a great picture to “stop” the audience. The statue is so cool…

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Here I wanted you to feel the mood, ambiance. The concrete ruin of the war, my daughter in pink (in a coat). Feel the size, feel the wind…

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And here in Lille, the storm was coming. I made it blurry on purpose. The sky was dark, the night was coming, the lights were great, and the perspective cool (the red walls on the right). You can almost smell the first drops of rain, right? I hope so… Entre chien et loup (between dog and wolf is our way to say… dusk).

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So : I love dark & colors. I think on proportions, structures. I don’t do portraits. I do what I love. Each photographer works on something : the camera itself, the post-production, landscapes, animals, fashion.

There are shades and layers. What does the photographer want…

For himself, or for the audience?

In the end, I think we all do things in society… to be loved, to be liked, recognized, noticed… It’s maybe the core of all art.

No. Let’s go deeper.

While doing it, the photographer has fun. He looks for things, frames, moments. He is like a child. He plays. He is focused, busy, occupied, absorbed by their pleasant task.

That’s it, folk. The “child state”. This is pure bliss.

These are many layered reasons why we work, right?

Thanks for reading!!