Updated: Sep 18, 2020
By Martina Botti - Social Media Secretary of PhotoSoc
“This photograph looks just like a painting”.
Whether you practice photography or purely enjoy this form of art, you have probably heard at least once, or even yourself employed a similar observation when describing a photograph. Our eyes grow accustomed to what we observe; we often tend to compare paintings to photography due to a sense of familiarity, which reminds us of our emotions connected to paintworks previously encountered.
With the intention of paying homage to emblematic pieces, some photographers drew inspiration from renowned paintings for their creations. Some notable examples are:
1. The portrait, Ophelia, by John Everett Millais from 1851-1852 and the photograph, Untitled (Ophelia) of Gregory Crewdson from 2000-2001; 2. Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1485-1486 and Giuseppe Gradella, Italian Renaissance Series from 2018; 3. Frederic Leighton, Flaming June, 1895 and Annie Leibovitz’ portrait of Jessica Chastain from 2013.
1. Ophelia by Millais and Untitled (Ophelia) by Crewdson
2. Birth of Venus by Botticelli and Italian Renaissance by Gradella
3. Flaming June by Leighton and Jessica Chastain photographed by Leibovitz
Composition, colour as well as lighting are some of the key elements which are exploited by these photographers to recreate their pieces still paying tribute to the original works of art. Keeping in mind that painting and photography are two independent forms of art; these two can be used as a source of inspiration and borrow aspects from one another. In the present cases, the aim is not only to replicate a photographic version of a pre-existing painting but to also take advantage of this new instrument to reinterpret iconic pieces to produce new works whose analogy is recognisable by the viewer.