Friday, June 25, 2010

Degas à la Plage

Degas at the Beach - 99, 2010

This is about a new series of photographs. I hesitate to talk about it too much before I get further into it. But talking about it helps me keep focused, especially knowing that some of you who read this will bug me later on to make sure I stick with it.

In the summer I like to work on photographic subjects that are bright and colorful. Not that I’m against bright things the rest of the year. It’s just that a lot of brightly colored things come out in the summer and the summer light is so warm. It’s the season of Kodacolor.

A lot of my photographs from last summer were pretty straightforward. I think there were some interesting results-- particularly like these and these--but little that broke any new ground for me beyond geography. I’ll probably have a lot of predictable work this summer, too. But somewhere in the mix I want to do something a little more thoughtful.

Specifically, I want do something unexpected with a familiar subject. In the interest of proximity, the familiar subject is going to be the beachfront near where I live. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of the beachfront before. You can see some of them here and here.

I know where the inspiration for this comes from. Among my favorite paintings are Edgar Degas’ Racehorses at Longchamps and Eugene Boudin’s pair of beach scenes from Trouville. (There’s a framed print of one of the Boudin paintings in my office as I write this.)

My daughter, the pedigreed art historian, tells me that my interest in Impressionism is bourgeois. The two Boudins were once owned by Claude Monet. So if my daughter’s assertion has any credence, at least I’m true to the style.

What I like about these paintings is that they work with everyday subjects—horses at the racetrack, the beach and, since I mentioned Monet, water lilies—but in a way that is different, slightly unexpected and personal. They are what the artists saw, impressions, which is why, not coincidentally, I named this blog “What I Saw” in the first place.

Degas at the Beach – 99, above and Degas at the Beach – 15, below, are test shots for this new series. I mistakenly shot them using an older digital camera that has a light sensor covered with dust spots. A little digital retouching makes them presentable here, but wouldn’t be adequate for a larger reproduction.

Degas at the Beach - 15, 2010

1 comment:

  1. These are great--bring 'em on! They're almost like paintings, too, so very appropriate titles. I'll look forward to seeing these. Very cool!