“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.

(Thank you, Wikipedia)

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 with the core of Arts (“What’s new here?”) – and that there’s nothing new here – we can watch this pattern/structure in other places, like photography. This will be the part 2!

Thanks for reading!