Raghubir Singh, a famous photographer, was known for the “capacious content” of his photographs. Just like all modern innovations have deep historical roots, the root of photography lies in the influence of paintings on people. Singh cited Edgar Degas, a famous French artist, as having one of the biggest influences on his photography. What Singh and Degas have in common is the “messiness at
Shah 4the edges of their images” which evokes in the mind of people a sense of what was happening in the frame of the picture and outside it. Comparing a photograph Singh took in Kemp’s Corner in Mumbai to Degas’s painting, “Place de la Concorde”, Cole cites, “The image, unforgettable because it stretches compositional coherence nearly to its snapping point, reminds me of Degas’s painting “Place de la Concorde,” another picture in which easy, classically balanced composition is jettisoned for something more exciting and discomfiting and grounded (973).” All Cole tries to put forward is that an electronic image can capture aspects of an endlessly complicated experience just as well as a beautifully hand-crafted painting does. “Good photography, regardless of its style, is always emotionally generous in its way (974).”To portray how personal experiences, affect a painting, Maggie Nelson, in “The Art of Cruelty”, aptly quotes Francis Bacon, “I’m not upset by the fact that people do suffer, because I think the suffering of people and the differences between people are what have made great art, and not egalitarianism (Nelson 662).” In this particular case, she shows how sorrow and suffering can shape the thinking of an artist to draw in a certain way with a varying level of compassion. Berger would have been able to relate to this when he was drawing a portrait of his dead father. What I understood from Nelson’s reckoning was that she is drawn to cruelty not for cruelty’s sake but for art’s sake. In her essay, we hear discussions of the gratified desire for effacement in Francis Bacon, Diane Arbus, and Sylvia Plath. We have to understand that Nelson is not writing about the “art” of cruelty, but, she talks about an overview of art made of cruelty: film, performance art and painting. Bacon, as a painter, relates on a personal level with Nelson’s claims. She even describes Bacon’s motivation for his paintings. “What is ‘deepest’ for Bacon is sensation, not psychology. And the peeling away of psychology from sensation occasions a certain sort of pain- the pain of extinguishing the story behind the suffering, and of contending directly with the sensation of suffering itself (665).” We might even think that it tries to bring us face-to-face with the human capacity for viciousness. But what Nelson
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- Fall '11