4470Lecture_4

4470Lecture_4 - Professor: Darius A. Spieth Art History...

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Professor: Darius A. Spieth Art History Program LSU School of Art
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Oscar G. Rejlander, The Two Ways of Life , combination albumen print, 1857 Up to this point, the photographs we discussed were of a rather utilitarian nature; in this and upcoming examples, the photographers understood themselves as artists, who developed a branch of photography called “art photography” Art Photography mimics the style and aesthetic interests of contemporary painting; at the same time, it invited the antagonism of painters and critics, like Baudelaire, who condemned the incursion of an industrial process into the world of high art The Swedish-born painter and lithographer Oscar G. Rejlander (active in Wolverhamption, GB) is widely regarded as the “father of art photography”
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Rejlander’s description of the iconography; photographic tableau depicts “a venerable sage, introducing two young men into life – the one, calm and placid, turns towards Religion, Charity, and Industry, and the other virtues, while the other rushes madly from his guide into the pleasures of the world, typified by various figures, representing Gambling, Wine, Licentiousness, and other vices; ending in Suicide, Insanity and Death. The center of the picutre, in front, between the two parties, is a splendid figure symbolizing Repentence, with the emblem of hope” Such allegorical overcharge was typically associated in the late 19 th century with academic painting
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“The Two Ways of Life” established Rejlander’s reputation (exists in 5 distinct versions) Iconography, style, and theatricality of the print qualify it as an attempt at recreating history painting and allegory in terms of photography Moralizing aspect was to the liking of audiences: composition is supposed to represent a choice between good and evil/work and idleness Rejlander freely borrowed some aspects from Raphael’s School of Athens and Couture’s The Romans of the Decadence (classically inspired multiple-figure compositions)
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Technically, “The Two Ways of Life” was achieved through a complicated and time- consuming process, which involved some thirty different negatives of individual figures and scenes to be combined into one final composition Each figure had to be individually exposed from negatives on contact paper; final photograph took six weeks to assemble > combination print Rejlander relied heavily on retouching the elements, before combining them into the final print, which measures (in its biggest version) 31 x 16 inches, and was first shown in the Manchester Art Treasure exhibition of 1857 Although widely condemned as indecent—in Scotland only the ‘virtuous’ side of the picture could be shown—a print was bought by Queen Victoria for Prince Albert.
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Oscar G. Rejlander, The Bachelor's Dream , ca. 1860, combination albumen print Beginnings of scientific investigations into the psychophysiology of sleep roughly 40 years before Freud > Mesmerism,
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4470Lecture_4 - Professor: Darius A. Spieth Art History...

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