Painted images and photography: Painting after Richter and Morley…. (II)

There is another thought I would like to share today with you, following the reading the enlightening article of Barry Schwabsky on Painting at the Age of the Image: how contemporary painting has built up on the heritage of photography, but also went further than simply reproducing a category of images, as Gerhard Richter or Malcom Morley did at their time.

Malcolm Morley (2004) Tackle

According to Barry Schwabsky, artists such as Gerhard Richter and Malcom Morley pursued in essence similar goals as pop artists by choosing the image-realm over some other reality. Whether it is photographs, chosen by those two or comics chosen by Roy Lichtenstein, billboards by James Rosenquist or news snapshots by Andy Warhol, all are clearly limited categories of image material. This very choice was a polemic one, which painters today are no longer busy with.

The difference with contemporary painters, such as Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans to quote only but some of the most influential ones, is that they work in complete detachment from the photographic experience, they do not feel the need like Richter or Morley to represent the seamless “look” of the photograph. The major difference is that the painting remains painterly.

Marlene Dumas (2003) The Kiss

What is engrossing with today’s painting is that painters, although they paint with an aggregate of images, do no longer paint with neutrality but with engagement far from a certain aesthetic distance. They add their emotional stance by freely reinterpreting the photographic image. Situated between the the homogeneity of photography and the heterogeneity of collage, which often are the basis of their work, young painters treat the world they paint as a wholly image.

Céline Felga (2011) Untitled (Drawing and Collage)


“An art that eats its own head – Painting in the Age of the Image” by Barry Schwabsky


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