Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"This Is Not a Pipe... or Painting"

Miz Briccetti's post on glare, gave me pause to reflect (anyone? anyone? I will be here all evening). It is so frustrating to see paintings under glass. A good painting will utilize the physical qualities of paint as a material and you end up with all this depth from different layers of glazing and whatnot. The glass on top always flattens out these layers as it doesn't let the light in properly and then there is the glare and reflections---although I would like to think that my face floating in the middle of the still life really makes the grapes pop.

Of course, photographing these glass covered pieces is near impossible. I think this is my biggest complaint. There are so many photographs of paintings covered by glass or other reflective surfaces, and I have no idea what I am looking at. Glaze or varnish on paintings are just as bad as glass and with the mandatory digitization of paintings for web viewing, I have doubts regarding the accuracy of what I am seeing. I am guilty of putting a thick, unctuous layer of varnish on everything I do (like a bird or 5 year old, I enjoy shiny things) and I gotta tell you, the photographs of these pieces are not entirely true. Between the flattened glazing and the presence of glare, photoshop makes a new image in an attempt to salvage the digitized painting. I hate that. I suppose the only consolation is that it is true of all paintings; if you can't see them in person, you aren't really seeing them. Take Marevich's White on White (pictured above). It is the proverbial polar bear eating marshmallows in a vat of shredded coconut. The photograph just reduces it to an image and as an image it is pretty boring. It is only interesting when you can get close to it and see all the nuances in the paint. The picture of the piece is only good for documentation (sorta) and if you put the protective glass over it, you may as well put it into storage.

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