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Thread: Still lifes

  1. #1
    Chris Jones
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    Still lifes

    May I start a still life thread?

    While researching still lifes I came across a short article on photographic still life which basically said to keep it simple, three or four linked objects. While this is incorrect advice, given the history of still life, it seemed to me this completely avoided what a still life is.

    Still life is a complex assembly. It is a type of clutter that draws the eye in for a closer look. In this I am, of course, looking toward painting which invented the genre. Perhaps easier to do in monochrome? This really suits a monorail large format approach for the intimate detail and also the perspective distortions which make the still life look as if it is going to fall over, or off the table or out of the frame, as do the 17th century paintings. I am playing with still life photos as a history of painting so thought it would be fun to see what others have to show.

    Here's one recent attempt.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails scan3.jpg  

  2. #2

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    Re: Still lifes

    But we allready have such a thread.
    "Post your stilllifes" IIRC
    Actually its this one
    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ighlight=lifes
    Best regards
    Søren Nielsen

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  3. #3

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    Re: Still lifes

    I think that he is trying to start a discussion about the aesthetics and techniques of still life photography and the relationship to still life painting. This discussion just might go beyond a notation of camera make, lens and film stock, followed by somebody saying "Great shot!"

    Chris, did you have a particular school, artist or painting in mind when you made that?
    Cheers!

  4. #4

    Re: Still lifes

    Hi

    A classic book "Looking at the Overlooked - Four Essays on Still Life Painting by Norman Bryson" helps focus ideas, so its time I re-read it.

    Regards
    Sven

  5. #5
    Meat Robot Jay Decker's Avatar
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    Re: Still lifes

    Subscribed.

    Gentlemen, please carry on, I would like to learn about still life photography!

  6. #6

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    Re: Still lifes

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    I think that he is trying to start a discussion about the aesthetics and techniques of still life photography and the relationship to still life painting. This discussion just might go beyond a notation of camera make, lens and film stock, followed by somebody saying "Great shot!"

    Chris, did you have a particular school, artist or painting in mind when you made that?
    Ok Ofcource thats something different. Seems I have lost the ability to read
    Søren Nielsen

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  7. #7
    Chris Jones
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    Re: Still lifes

    Thanks for the replies. Although I am not yet clear on what I am thinking about and did consider the still life thread, on thinking what to write it did seem more polite and democratic to start a new thread since I was interested in the aesthetics of still life painting and photography. Photography is perhaps different to other art media in that it also covers commercial and advertising as well as hobbyists which other mediums don't have in the same way. All this does seem to me to enrich photography, even if art photography does not need this. I think there may be a very interesting dialogue happening here. Especially since recently hobbyists have access to large format monorails, which before digital wasn't the case, unless wealthy.

    The history of painting can also impose itself and flood out other ideas, of which I am at least aware, and I was beginning with a history of still life painting. Also, I haven't formally studied or researched still life paintings (except high school art) so it is a new and interesting area for me.

    "Looking at the Overlooked - Four Essays on Still Life Painting by Norman Bryson" , I found excerpts of at Google. From a quick look it does seem close to my direction, which is from among the first or second round of Australian cultural studies and media arts. So I can get an appreciation of still lifes as a minor art, from the history I can put together on the Internet.

    The attached JPEG I first posted began with 17th Century Dutch still lifes, which I am marking as the beginning of still life painting and jumps to Cezzane's still lifes which use the motifs from the Dutch paintings. Haven't got to a closer fresh look at Cubism, yet. But what seems to happen in this series of still lifes I am playing with is that it begins as a history of still life painting which as it turns out looks nothing like the history of painting. I began by putting together a still life which picks up on some of the motifs such as folded drapery, and elements which looked as if they were falling off the table and the strange perspective which gave still lifes a lively dynamics. The literal translation of still lifes is actually dead nature. So it is anything but still and has a very obvious rhythm in the compositions which also use the golden section which itself goes off to infinity in both directions, infinitely large and infinitely small. Here we also come across a later sublime theme of the large and small, such as Romantic landscape painting. This led me to think of some of Ansel Adam's landscapes as having a Romantic landscape aesthetics. I don't know what to make of this as Adams has a rather devious sense of humour. (Adams called Mortensen the Anti-Christ. Was this a reference to Nietzsche?)

    Anyway, what appears to pan out is a trip through the history of painting, done as set up photos, which clears away what may lie in the path of photography as an art medium since what we end up getting is nothing like painting. I was taught (at art school) to begin with the print, but it is a mistake to think this a blank sheet of paper. So we were taught through a series of steps from photogram to pin hole to 35mm camera. This creates a clear enough space for photography to begin.

    Anyway, that seems as much as I write for now. Worried it may not be enough to show my hand, as the saying goes. Best wishes, Chris Jones.

  8. #8

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    Re: Still lifes

    I miss the pictures

  9. #9
    Chris Jones
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    Re: Still lifes

    This was one of the first along the Baroque still life line. It took me fives days to put together between other tasks, of course.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails dust-lilysmall.jpeg  

  10. #10
    Chris Jones
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    Re: Still lifes

    Just to pass along some thanks and also by way of my own comments for suggesting:

    Looking at the Overlooked - Four Essays on Still Life Painting by Norman
    Bryson

    Interesting because he makes a connection between Bakhtin's "Rabelais
    and His World" and still life painting as the lower bodily functions.

    I make a connection with still life photography and Bakhtin's Dialogic
    imagination and like Bryson, still life and lyric poetry. I seem to have
    stumbled over something of interest here where still life connects to
    novels and lyric verse? Unlike Bryson I say still life painting begins
    with 17th century Dutch baroque rather then Roman Xenia.

    Like myself Bryson sees still lifes as a minor art in painting.

    The connection with lyric poetry I may need to tease out more but it does show that photography, at least as an art, can be approached just as much from the direction of literature as painting. There may be some connections with visual poetry, as well?

    If there is any interest I could add more later. Flat out in my studio at the moment. best wishes, Chris Jones.

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