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Lecture 10

FAH352 Lecture 10

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University of Toronto St. George
Jane Wolf

March 28, 2013 Lecture 10 missions héliographiques (photographic missions) Edouard, Denis Baldus, Maison carrée à Nimes, 1851 Salted print -he travelled around the country photographing ancient and medieval monuments -the latter image you see another building in the background -in the first photograph you don't see people or other buildings -in the first image he blanks out the urban qualities around the building -a dilemma photographers were faced with, on one hand there is the desire to create the past and it requires a certain aestheticism similar to the way a museum displays certain kids of objects, on the other hand it was also necessary to produce useful data about the state of the historical monuments and their relationship to the cityscape around it, two very different objectives in the two images of the same building -the two objectives start to blend together in one image this is a Roman temple in the southern French City Nimes. Built around 20 BCE, it is remarkably well-preserved example of a Vitruvian temple. After Thomas Jefferson saw it he sent instructions to stop construction on the Virginia State Capital until he could dispatch revised plans inspired by the Roman monument. Taken at an angle encompasses both façade and side, emerging from the continuum of the background buildings visible on the right, left, and through the columns. Baldus went to Burgundy -Nilsen Baldus, Tour magne, nimes, 1853 -no present day relation of the monument to its site At the Tour Magne in Nîmes, Baldus filled the frame with the ancient Roman tomb, providing no context beyond the pebble-strewn foreground. The photograph's aesthetic and human interest lie in the contrast between the monument's geometric structure and the irregularity of its ruined silhouette, in the modulation of highlights, middle tones, and deep shadows, in the variety of texture found on the deteriorating masonry, and in the battle between the builder's desire for an imperishable memorial, the modern restorer's efforts to preserve the past, and the vegetation sprouting inexorably from its high walls. March 28, 2013 Auguste Mestral, Sculpture of virgin and child, Notre dame, Paris, 1851 -Mestral pictures do in a very direct way what happens in a more conceptual way in Baldus’ images, Baldus removes the surrounding elements of the site of the monuments and allows the monument to rise in an ethereal way, where Mestral does the opposite -Mestral was in charge of sculptural monuments -it is less a preserved object than it is a fabricated one -a simulation of history that is about to be swapped in, but before that happens Mestral recognizes the transition, he captures the sculpture while it is still earthbound and before it is canonized -he recognizes how powerful and distorted it is Mestral, Angel of the passion, Saint chapels, Paris, 1852 -Salted paper print from paper negative -The formal outcome is that when you take the strange blurriness of the sleeping man and the white tarp behind the angel, the right side of the picture turns into a spiritual dream, -There is no question that Mestral is interested in, both the very concrete and material and the very ethereal, almost abstract -That combination elevates it from what could have been a very pedestrian image Serendipity occasionally aids the muses, as here, where a worker's fatigue, a gentle breeze, and a bit of sunshine have helped one of the medium's early masters achieve something far beyond his original intention. Mestral was commissioned by the sculptor Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy Dechaume to document one of his angels of the passion before it was lifted to a high and inaccessible perch at the base of the flèche of the Sainte-Chapelle. Working at the restoration site, the photographer strung up a white canvas to provide a neutral background for the sculpture; however, during the long exposure (perhaps ten or fifteen minutes) that drapery blew in the breeze, softening its edges and folds in a blur of light. As a result, one has the sense that the sculpted angel has come to life and descended a beam of light to appear to the sleeping workman in a dream—like the angel appearing to Jacob—while his companion remains oblivious to the vision taking place a few feet away. Henri le Secq, Large Figures on the North Porch, Chartres Cathedral, 1852 Salted paper print from paper negative -the figures seem like they are strangely floating free of the columns they are attached to March 28, 2013 -to the left of the image there is a strange blur, but to the right there is an amazing sense of detail of the columns and the pedestal that the figure stands on -goes from completely abstract to very detailed, it could be how Le Secq combines the two objectives He was primarly active in photography during the 1850’s working for the Commission des Monuments Historiques as of 1851 in the area North and East of Paris. Le Secq went to the Champagne. -Nilsen Charles Clifford, Principal Doorway of the Carthusian Monastery, Burgos, 1853 Albumen silver print from paper negative -Shows a statue and animates it -Initially we expect to be greeted by a human, but instead it is an immobile statue -It is a strange, and de-familiarizing effect that Clifford wants to record At the Carthusian monastery in Burgos, Clifford apparently had the treasured seventeenth-century painted wood statue of the order's founder, Saint Bruno, moved from its usual place in a small lateral chapel to the front steps, where he had sufficient light and space to photograph it properly. Clifford's theatrical staging, the lifelike quality of the sculpture, and the harmonizing quality of photography yield an image that is easily mistaken for a miraculous vision of the saint himself. Clifford, Courtyard of the House Known as Los Infantes, Zaragoza, 1860 Albumen silver print from glass negative -there is a sense of an image very rich in detail -this would make a useful document for studying the detail and architecture -Clifford pulls us away from the realm of documentation into a world of doubles, to the right of the image there is a white curtain and the bottom of the curtain obscures some detail, and what the detail is, is the head of a sculpted figure, so there is a very strange cloth obscuring the head of one of the figures, and a diagonal right triangle of shadow that draws us to that space, while the image serves a preservation function and gives good detail about the sculpture of this monument, but Clifford sacrifices this a little bit in order to give this strange effect and combines the inside and outside, concrete with abstract Envisioning urban design Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier, The Barricade, 1848 -group of slaughtered figures with tattered clothes, and in front of the figures are stones or small boulders as well it has taken place in a back alley a particular kind of locale -the painting gives us a sense of all the problems of Paris as a civilized world March 28, 2013 Charles Marville, Impasse Briare, 1860 Albumen silver print from glass negative -Assigned to take pictures of the Paris that would soon be bulldozed, a record that would serve as a visual repertoire -Marville’s images particularly melancholy images because it shows spaces in thievery, the last moment before they disappear forever -this image shows a space that is not acceptable to the regime, streets are narrow and has blind alleys linking up to it and considerable sanitary problems -the title of the image is significant, an impasse is a place which can no longer continue -Marville documents these things with the knowledge that they are about to disappear -at the same time he is asked to take this images of the Paris that is about to disappear, he is also asked to take images that celebrate the alternative Marville, Rue Soufflot Pantheon, 1858 -Marville gives a sense of the perspectival order of the space and how it leads to the French pantheon -shows how Paris even exists today -Marville’s most interesting pictures are neither the ones before or after the change in Paris but a combination of both time periods -Marville is protective of the symbolic power of the streets that are at the half waypoint March 28, 2013 -in that image we look past the old and into the new construction of Paris, it is an image of transition it shows both a destructive force but also a move towards the future Adolphe Terris, Rue des Grands Carmes, Marselles, 1862 Salted paper print from glass negative -if you think about the use of perspective in these transitional images, you can notice in the foreground is a gas lamp, but in the distance to the right up the street
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