Friday, 24 May 2013

The Art of Surrealism

Okay so briefly I touched upon a few photographers who were mainly in the realm of realism and others who are conceptual photographers in my last post. I mentioned in particular Eugène Atget and his work which was an incredible perspective on Paris. 

I like to do some research when speaking about photographers and many of you, who know of Atget's work, will probably know how much his work was appreciated by surrealist photographers and how much his work inspires photographers to create 'another' perspective on a well-documented city.
In Atget's photographs of the deserted streets of old Paris and of shop windows haunted by elegant mannequins, the Surrealists recognised their own vision of the city as a "dream capital," an urban labyrinth of memory and desire.

I have a copy of A History of Photography from Taschen and in that book it displays some very fine works of Atget and his unintentional collection of surrealism. His works are absolutely astounding, what really opened my eyes was he had such a great eye for detail and humour and humility, those photographs are there thankfully recorded and held my attention and I realised that Atget could also build a sense of mood in the frame with the natural light used, not only was he a photographer, he was in fact a light painter!
©Atget, Eugène.

His works are brilliant, here is an example of one of his nudes, in this particular shot you can clearly see how greatly he influenced and certainly I would suggest Bill Brandt the low key lighting is not dissimilar to that of Atget. So high contrast and moody at best, looking at this work I marvel at those past masters, and how they created that art form of dodging and burning to create a piece, and photographing a scene that would be viewed and admired and possibly critiqued for years to come.

In essence these works of these past masters are in fact timeless creations, we all aspire to and you can emphasise with the movement of Surrealism that these works are surreal in nature unintentionally but they're none the less surreal. The other key aspect about Atget and his work, is how significant the perspective and compositional elements tie the subject matter together.

The next two examples clearly show the use of the golden rule and the rule of thirds:




Now if you were to apply these rules in to your photography, the compositional elements would make the photograph more appealing and most importantly make sense, so next time you look through the viewfinder try and look for certain shapes, and features be they linear like a fence or railing or even the vertical height of a row buildings.
You could adopt an approach were by you seek out leading lines or curves or even a particular colour, these elements that make up a photograph and make it stand out from the rest.
Eugène Atget had a very keen eye, and these images show how much an influential photographer he really was despite not embracing new technology, it shows that while he was a traditionalist he could create timeless pieces. 
Eugène Atget has a variety of works available in the form of books too, and if like myself you collect Photographic bibliography you will be pleased to know they're plenty to go at. One that certainly comes to the fore if your into fine art, is Atget's Garden Photographs (A Dolphin Book)  A fine collection of photographs depicting some fine sculptures in the many gardens of Paris, not just that but he composes some fine reflections too, use of the equipment he had large 18 x 24 Plates, much like his predecessor Charles Marville (Marville trained as an illustrator and an engraver) his works can be viewed at the MoMA .

The similarity between Marville and Atget is incredible; from studying Marville we can begin to understand Atget. So was Atget following in the footsteps of Marville? He was definitely an influence in Atget’s' work. Looking at the garden photographs we can see that Atget viewed and photographed them as a pedestrian would also view them as a passer-by if only to stop and take a brief look, one would then enter the world as Atget perceived it.

This is very exciting to me, it seems am going further back historically the more I look at Atget. Over the last few days though, interestingly I have been posting my works on my site here

This series of images from myself are very surreal in perspective, though they do convey a message of realism. You may recall an earlier post referring to  metaphors in photography 

Looking at those images it is hard to clarify why am talking about Atget, he photographed people too though, when I photograph people I interpret their persona in my self portraits and try to re-enact the scene through my own expression. 

Check out those latest works and share the links too. 

Have a great weekend all.