SEDUCED BY ART, the new show at the National Gallery
has a daft title, given that its thesis is the ways in which
photography in the 19th century and currently has responded to 'fine art' of the old master variety - just as artists in all media respond and reflect previous work. The exhibition has not been very well recieved critically, but there are some things in its favour:
firstly, the juxtaposition of media forces attention on the contrivances involved in both photography and painting - reminding us again for example of the artifice involved in creating/staging/composing figurative and 'real life' images. It's more obvious in photography, where the viewer knows that models, sitters, locations, accessories etc must be manoeuvred into place, lighting adjusted, exposures calculated and so on, so seeing paintings alongside makes for heightened awareness of just what, say, Gainsborough was doing when making Mr & Mrs Andrews look as though they are sitting outdoors, on a garden seat, at the edge of a cornfield, when they weren't.