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Photo Painting

ENGL 778.401
instructor(s):
Tuesday 1:30-4:30pm

By 1842--three years after the official invention of photography--photographers had already begun hand-coloring their daguerreotypes, and a century and a half later Richter started smearing and spattering paint onto small photographs, and exhibiting them along with his abstract and figurative paintings.  By the mid-1850's, many artists were also painting from photographs, sometimes by projecting them onto their canvases, and treating these projections as preparatory drawings.  They called the resulting images "photo paintings." And although it became increasingly "disreputable" to work in this way as the century progressed, Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edgar Degas and Edouard Vuillard all made paintings that are in one way or another "photographic." Some of them also saw photography as the gateway to a new kind of figurative painting.

Abstraction hardened the distinction between art and photography, and brought these medium-crossings to an end.  However, photo painting resurfaced in the 1950s and 1960s, and although it initially seemed ironic, it has outlived the movements that made this reading possible.  As we can now see, photo-painting is a far more complex and multi-faceted way of generating images than those generally associated with Pop, Institutional Critique and Appropriation.

We will begin this seminar with the two most important practitioners of nineteenth century photo painting, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas.  We will then direct our attention to a group of twentieth and twenty-first century photo-painters: Richard Artschwager, Marlene Dumas, Richard Hamilton, Gerhard Richter, Wilhelm Sasnal, and Luc Tuymans.