The psy-link between painting and photography

Today we are going to learn about The psy-link between painting and photography. When you think of American photographers who have made a difference, the names of Ansel
Adams
or Robert Mapplethorpe may come to mind. But the first American to spur change by
tripping a shutter was Alfred Stieglitz, who also ran a painting gallery. He was the first to define
photography as a fine art. Stieglitz mentored Adams. He gave him the idea of making photography
the “equivalent” of painting. And Robert Mapplethorpe, whose lens art is celebrated for its poetry,
began his career as a student of painting.

The psy-link between painting and photography
“Projeto mural” – photograph by Ansel Adams

And just as photography learned its art lessons from painting, the reverse ultimately took place with
the advent of photo-real painting, also known as super-realism. The photo-realist movement in
painting also showed up in sculpture and Tampa Museum offers examples from the Martin Z.
Margulies Collection, as well as its own example in paint: Ralph Goings’ “Collin’s Diner.”

Collin’s Diner outside view
Collin’s Diner outside view

If you think super-realist painting is just naturalism in cinematic Technicolor, you should see
“Collins Diner.” His is not the stuff of representational imagery. It’s about what a camera sees.
Paintings in this case take on the look of good quality color slides, often made section by section
and sometimes upside down, the aim being the look of reproductions, not interpretation.

Ralph Goings - inside Collin's Diner
Ralph Goings – inside Collin’s Diner

In Goings’ 48-by-68-inch oil painting, there’s more to the eatery than meets the eye. Even with
20/20 acuity, human sight isn’t designed to record the amount of detail that Goings records.

So you’re looking at something beyond realism. Intensity, in the glare of polished diner chrome, is
everywhere: from the precise, razor edge of the tapering second hand on the concave crystal casing
of the diner wall clock to the discernible thickness of a diner patron’s eyeglasses.

With these details, the painting seems to reflect urban life in its seemingly endless facets of
scrubbed metal and glass – monuments to industrial hygiene and sterility. Like a still life, “Collins
Diner” also enumerates the furnishings of our time: paper cups, fast food, swivel stools and the
inevitable clock by which we live.

Signs of the human condition are no match for the overriding crispness of high gloss. A snapshot of
newlyweds on a shelf cannot minimize the bland, neutral anonymity of the whitewashed,
untouched-by-human-hands environment. Man looks like an intruder in his own man-made space. It
is as if in exchange for a high-tech world, he traded off his leading role for a bit part.

Out of this painter’s extraordinary exactness, then, comes social commentary, not only reporting.
Just as omission is a form of editorializing, an opinion also is expressed when nothing is ignored
and everything is emphasized.

And therein lays both Goings’ appeal and his significance. If focus is so sharply defined that
everything in sight looks magnified and underlined as if in red, what you have is a kind of
expressionism – not realism. When Goings flawlessly projects what a camera faultlessly sees, rather
than what the human eye perceives – peripheral blur and all; when art looks like a high-quality color
slide rather than pigments brushed on by hand, he only reiterates the message: Next to precision and
spic-and-span shiny smoothness, people look grimy and beat.

We at Paintings Studio hope you enjoyed reading the article about the psy-link between painting and photography. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Water Dreaming (Lungkata Tjungurrayi)

We at Paintings Studio today are pleased to present to you information about Lungkata Tjungurrayi, or in its full name “Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi”. is a Pintupi man born at Walukuritji (c. 1920 – 1987) south of Lake Macdonald, and is best known as an artist, and important member with Papunya Tula Artists.

Children’s Water Dreaming 1972, 62 x 44 cm, Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi
Children’s Water Dreaming 1972, 62 x 44 cm, Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi

Aborigines used Australia’s wealth in ochre colors (iron oxides) to paint their mythologies on sand, cut bark of stringybark tree and their bodies. In 1972, acrylic paints and masonite boards were made available to a few Aboriginal men congregating in a ‘painting club’. While the usage of contemporary materials served to adulterate, it also helped to popularize Australian Aboriginal art.

Classic Pintupi Water Dreaming 1972, 62 x 42 cm, Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi
Classic Pintupi Water Dreaming 1972, 62 x 42 cm, Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi

Last year, early ‘Papunya’ boards were shown at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU. Paintings from the exhibition are reproduced in a book icons of the desert that also provides anthropological information on Aboriginal art and artists.

Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi, detail of a group portrait, Men’s painting room, Papunya, 1972
Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi, detail of a group portrait, Men’s painting room, Papunya, 1972

Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi, then 52 yr old, was a member of the 1972 painting club. In his ‘Water Dreamings’, he painted the distant region of his youth. Water Dreamings can be openly shown unlike secret men mythologies that were displayed during the NYC exhibition in a separate room. At the entrance, a message warned Aboriginal women not to enter there. These secret boards are reproduced in a separate, removable folder within icons of the desert. (Women, too, possess secret mythologies).

Researching classical pigments, a British journalist visited Australia on her quest for ochre. In her book COLOR, a Natural History of the Palette she writes about contemporary Australian Aboriginal painters, many of whom are women. She also visited the schoolteacher who created the 1972 painting club and thereby provided the impetus for popularizing Australian Aboriginal art.

An explanation of Dreaming is given in COLOR, a Natural History of the Palette:

Traditional Aboriginal life only makes sense in the context of the time when Ancestors first arose out of the original mud or sea or sky and brought the first sunrise with them. In English it is articulated as the “Dreaming” or “Dreamtime” – a dream in the sense that it is not set in the past, but a kind of parallel present universe, rather like the one that we operate in while we are asleep. In Aboriginal lore, the Dreaming is the reason for everything that has ever existed and ever will exist. And its stories are told in layers, depending on how ready, or authorized, the listener is to understand them. It is said that your personal Dreaming depends on where your mother was when she first felt you in the womb. The Ancestors who live in that place have given you “anima” – they have animated you – and when you grow up their stories and songs will be in your trust, and you in theirs.