This Sunday’s Photo/Art quote is from Robert Mapplethorpe.
“The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.” Robert Mapplethorpe
He was a controversial photographer because of his chosen subject matter. (ALERT! if you find the male or female nude figure offensive do not click on this link to Mapplethorpe’s Portfolio. There is some exquisite photography that is not controversial of some of his floral work direct from here as an alternative. Mapplethorpe’s Flower Portfolio.
Robert Mapplethorpe’s exquisite flower photograph Anemone, 1989
I want to take this a giant step further and posit that the more art you view, whether it is photography or oils hanging in a museum, that you will become a stronger photographer the more you study. Now I don’t necessarily recommend that you take it to the level I have… My wife doesn’t want to go to art museums with me any more because I will spend some serious time in front of a painting that interests me. From five to forty five minutes (see Monet blog post) I have been getting to every museum I can to view the Masters of Impressionism like Monet, Classic portraitists like Rembrandt and Renoir to study their portrayal of light and shadow to create form. Looking to understand how colors placed side by side effect one another or a few final finishing strokes turn a nice image into one with deep depth and dimension.
When I see a painting or photograph that captures my attention I’ll view it from 5 feet away. Then move very close to see intimate details. Then go to ten or fifteen feet away to see how the detail i the image resolves into a totally different look. This is what I personally am trying to bring to my image making. You can look at these same images online and in books but you only get a taste of the images not a full meal. There is something about seeing great, and some not so great, works of art up close and personal that really brings them to life.
I supplement the live viewing with artists I haven’t yet had the pleasure to experience in a museum or to refresh my memory of a particular painting or style of painting. I try to view a few new pieces of art several times a week before falling into slumber. I first heard this idea from a fabulous artist/photographer by the name of Arthur Rainville. It’s a great way to have your brain work on new ideas and assimilate color and composition ideas while you slumber. I have seen Arthur speak several times and highly recommend you put him on your list of programs to see.
So back to Mr Mapplethorpe’s quote, “The more pictures you see…”