Abstracts, Collages, and Modernist Photography

Studying early Twentieth Century Art and Photography develops an appreciation of the early practitioners of the collage, including Picasso and his friend Braque, as well as the photographers experimenting in similar compositions in photography, such as Man Ray. Practicing what we learn is the best way to extend our own eye to include concepts and aesthetics into our own repertoire.

The image below falls squarely in this camp. It is a semi-abstract image; if you take the time most, if not all, of the elements resolve themselves into components of tables, chairs, the terrace they sit on, and their shadows. What makes the image interesting, beyond the puzzle of identification, and its ability to pop back and forth from abstract to representational, is the dynamic nature of the forms. No complete objects, beyond paving blocks, are included. All portions of objects are on a slight angle, in one direction or another. Lights and darks balance each other throughout the image. This creates a very dynamic image, but also a very intentional one. It is as if a painter had carefully manipulated the components to fill the canvas, and relate to one another. The low saturation color of the image also references early modernist black and white images, and the sepia collages of Braque.

Take a little time to review works from this era, and try your hand, and  your eye, at composing images of this type.


C. David Tobie


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