In a time of financial crisis, people really need more of a reason to spend the time and money in art galleries – but one of those reasons is definitely the National Gallery’s new exhibition Seduced By Art. Offering a ‘provocative look at how photographers use fine art traditions’, the exhibition intends to show how major early works by French and British artists have gone on to inform photographers, from the 19th century photography of Julia Margaret Cameron, to new photography and video commissioned specifically for the exhibition and on display in public for the first time.
Without climbing too far on my soap box (oh alright, give me a second), this kind of work is what I want to see art galleries do. As a fan of both painting and photography, the distinction between the two disciplines has always seemed a little arbitrary, and a way to keep things segregated for no good reason, particularly given the number of prominent artists who’ve crossed codes. Luckily, it seems that Hope Kingsley (curator for Education and Collections at the Wilson Centre for Photography) and Christopher Riopelle (Curator of Post-1800 Paintings at the National Gallery) have heard my plea for a little more integration, and are going to do just that.
The show will include almost 90 photographs, sourced internationally and from the photographers themselves. What is really on show is the way that photography dares to claim traditional ‘high art’ as its own, and to legitimise the place of photography as a high art discipline in its own right. As the first major photography exhibition to take place in the gallery, whether you agree or disagree, this exhibition will certainly be a spark for igniting the discussion on where photography sits. (Words: Charlotte Lydia)
Seduced By Art: Photography Past & Present is showing at The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, from October 31st to January 20th. For more info visit www.nationalgallery.org.uk/seduced-by-art