I learned a great deal from studying this photograph – and not just about photography.
I chose to analyse this particular image as I had seen it in the ‘Seduced by Art’ exhibition & catalogue. I was attracted to the visual appeal of the image and that there seemed to to be a deeper meaning to it. I recognised the setting for the photograph, the Cast Courts at the Victoria and Albert Museum (one of the exercises from my previous OCA Art History course had been to visit a Cast Court, so I had already been there). So I knew I could visit the scene to see how the image had been constructed.
Having chosen the image, little did I know of the journey it would take me through Ancient Greece, the Italian Renaissance, the run-up to the second world war to the present day!
Had I known this in advance I might have hesitated in my choosing this image. I found out so much about the background to it that my first draft of the assignment came out at almost four times the specified word count for the essay.
My main concern with the assignment is that I have skated over some aspects of the image in order to keep the essay to a proper length. For example I have restricted my comment on the visual structure of the image to a single drawing and a sentence or two. I think this conveys the main essence of the composition, but I could have written a lot more about it.
Similarly this is one image from a large series called Connoisseurs. There is a lot I could have written about other photographs in the series and the placement of this image among them. there are very strong links between this image and ‘Looking at The Great Works of Art’ and ‘Analysis of Beauty’. Again with the restriction on the size of the essay I felt it best to concentrate on the specific image under consideration.
In researching this photograph I found out more about Raphael’s fresco, Michelangelo’s sculptures and read ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical reproduction’ for the first time – I must confess I had not heard of Walter Benjamin before I researched the assignment. So this one image has added to my knowledge on so many fronts.
My main, photographic, learning point from this exercise has been the interaction between text and image. This photograph (and this exercise) has taken my appreciation and understanding of that link to a new level.
I have two regrets concerning this exercise. The first is that I was unable to attend the OCA study tour to see the Karen Knorr exhibition at the Tate. I had booked a place but thanks to Network Rail’s inability to sort out points and signalling problems at Ely I couldn’t get there in time. This was a real shame as I like to attend the study visits when I can and this one was particularly relevant. I intend to go by myself, but you don’t get as much out of it as you do with the organised visit.
My other regret is having chosen to study a photograph with such a long title. Writing it out once only uses up 1% of your overall word count straight away!!
You can see a copy of Assignment 4 here, but images have been removed for copyright reasons.