Lesson 39: Photography, Video Art, and Digital Art 

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What You Will Learn:

  • Explore All Art Movements and Periods

    You will learn about all the leading art movements and periods, such as primitive art, ancient Greek art, the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism, Modernism, and contemporary art. There is also a lot of attention to non-Western art, such as Islamic Art, Hindu Art, Chinese Art, Oceanic Art and African Art, and the globalization of the art world.

  • All Famous Artists and Their Masterpieces

    The course covers important artists like Sultan Muhammad, Fan Kuan, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Utagawa Hiroshige, Vincent van Gogh, Ilya Repin, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Banksy and many more, and discusses their most influential works.

  • Cultural and Historical Context

    Our courses also focus on the study of the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts in which artworks are created.

  • Various Media and Techniques

    You will explore different art forms and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and digital art.

Introduction to this course:


At the time when photography first emerged, users did not initially consider it as art. It began to replace portrait painters and landscape artists of the second quarter of the 19th century. However, this shift prompted traditional artists to reconsider their positions and artworks. The market for portraits declined, and the realistic depiction of cities and landscapes became less necessary with the advent of photography. One of the consequences of this shift was the emergence of the art movement known as Impressionism, where artists focused on capturing an impression of their subjects on canvas rather than striving for strict realism.

De twee manieren van leven (The Two Ways of Life) werd in 1857 gemaakt door de Engels-Zweedse fotograaf Oscar Rejlander (1813-1875). Hij was een goed voorbeeld van een fotograaf die in de voetsporen van de beeldende kunstenaars trad en hun werk als inspiratiebron koos. Deze erotische lading in de afbeelding was omstreden, maar werd zelfs door de Britse koningin Victoria aangekocht. Het vervaardigen van de afbeelding was in die tijd een kunstwerk op zich. Oscar Rejlander monteerde in 6 weken 32 afbeeldingen aan elkaar waardoor deze 99 centimeter brede foto ontstond. Op de afbeelding staan twee jonge mannen te kijken naar een soort schouwtoneel. Zij worden begeleidt door een patriarch die tussen hen in staat. De jongen rechts kijkt naar alle deugdzame genoegens in het leven, terwijl de jongen links naar de zondige genoegens kijkt, voorgesteld door 6 naakte vrouwen. 
Locatie: Deze afbeelding werd voor het eerst tentoongesteld op de Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857. Het is nu in het bezit van het George Eastman Museum, gelegen aan de East Avenue op het landgoed van de George Eastman, de oprichter van Eastman Kodak, in Rochester in de staat New York.
Image: “The Two Ways of Life” was created in 1857 by the English-Swedish photographer Oscar Rejlander (1813-1875). He was a prime example of a photographer who followed in the footsteps of visual artists and chose their work as a source of inspiration. The erotic undertones in the image were controversial but were even purchased by Queen Victoria of Britain for her husband, Prince Albert. Creating the image itself was an artistic feat at the time. Oscar Rejlander seamlessly assembled 32 images over six weeks, resulting in this 99-centimeter-wide photograph. In the image, two young men are looking at a kind of tableau with good and bad angels, guided by a patriarch standing between them. The young man on the right gazes at all the virtuous pleasures in life, while the one on the left looks at the sinful pleasures, represented by six unclothed women.
Location: This image was first exhibited at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857. It is now in the possession of the George Eastman Museum, located on East Avenue on the estate of George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak, in Rochester, New York (USA).

Gustave Le Gray, Seeking the Fusion of Art and Photography

Nevertheless, there were several photographers who aimed for more than just creating portraits. They sought to align themselves with the work of painters. A good example is the French photographer Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884). He was originally a painter and wanted to achieve the same artistic level with his photos as he did with his paintings. By using waxed paper negatives, his photos became smokier and had softer outlines. The impressionist Claude Monet, among others, admired Le Gray’s photos. However, most people in the art world turned up their noses at the fusion of art and photography; they believed it wasn’t art and could never be. As we have seen in the descriptions of other art movements, opinions and judgments about art changed over time, just as they did in everyday life on other subjects.

De foto Brig on the water, uit 1856 van de fotograaf Gustave Le Gray.
Image: “Brig on the Water,” from 1856, by the photographer Gustave Le Gray. He used waxed paper negatives, which gave his photos a smokier and softer outline. He tried to reach the level of painting with his photos. A brig is a two-masted, square-rigged ship with an additional gaff sail on the main mast.
Location: This photo by Gustave Le Gray is displayed at the National Gallery of Art, located on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, on Constitution Avenue NW in Washington D.C. (USA).

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