Flou

2018

In the Paris salon of 1846 Charles Baudelaire, poet and writer, spoke out strongly against photographic portraiture (Daguerrotypy) criticizing its “exaggerated reality”. He openly opposed its mechanical verisimilitude, which he thought would inevitably corrupt public taste and destroy artistic imagination. Later in 1859, as other processes such as the wet plate collodian negative and carte-de -visite albumen print flourished, Baudelaire posed for a portrait by Nadar. His left side appears slightly out of focus – an accidental aesthetic that is said to have gotten his unexpected approval. In a similar vein, in 1865, he wrote to request a commissioned photographic portrait of his mother and explained that while accuracy was desirable, so was a certain “flou” or fuzziness like a drawing.

In my own series “Flou”, I attempt to give a modern day interpretation to traditional portraiture using the poses and colors of the 19th century as inspiration. There is also evidence in the work of defying the desirable image sharpness and diffused light present in 19th century portraiture. Photographed with available window light in Provence, I asked local residents for a sitting. The dynamics between Baudelaire, Nadar, the Salon Painters and the dialogue of technology vs. art between 1839 and 1862 inspired this work.

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