Thursday, December 13, 2012

Seduced by Art (and Octopuses.)

The name of the exhibition at the National Gallery was "Seduced by Art: Photography Past & Present." That name was quite appropriate, and let me tell you, I have been seduced. Art can take me now.
The point of this blog is supposed to be comparing painting and photography when the subject is the same, and I promise, I'll get there. First, though, I'm going to talk about how exactly art has seduced me so completely and quickly. Its name is "Man with Octopus Tattoo II." And it is my new love. Like seriously, I have been FREAKING OUT about this exhibit since we got to London because the exhibition posters in the tubes and elsewhere feature this photo. And it is exactly what it says: a lovely nude portrait of a man with a tattoo of an octopus covering a large portion of his torso. I can't even say what it is about this photo that I'm so obsessed with. I just can't stop looking at it. I'm in love. I think it's just a little bit of mystique-- the subject is facing away from the camera, so I don't know what his face looks like, which is interesting enough, but then there's also the lingering question, in my mind, anyway, of why an octopus? and why there? and why so enormous? Also, the subject's posture, with his arms wrapped around himself and his head bowed a little bit, indicate to me a little vulnerability, but the tattoo seems to defy that, being so strong and almost fierce looking, or maybe protective. I could go on for a long time, because I seriously love this picture. But, since I really do have to get to the point of this assignment, I'll just say that when I grow up, or maybe tomorrow (you never know) I would like to take a photograph that makes someone fall so completely in love with it the way this one has captured me, mind, soul, and spirit. Okay. Now I'm done with that. Mostly. The picture here is of the poster right outside the exhibition in the gallery, and it does not do it justice. But if you should be seduced by it, back off, it's mine. Just kidding (mostly.)

Okay, now I'm really going to move on to the real assignment for this blog.
I'm supposed to compare psychological differences between the same subject, Painted and Photographed. My first thought was to say that a painting is more intimate, particularly if the subject is a person. I figured that for a painted portrait, the artist probably had to be with the subject for far longer, and that made me think that there would be a more personal bond. But then I considered the octopus tattoo guy, and I feel like there is a level of intimacy there that is most definitely not in some painted portraits I've seen, nudity aside. I guess my new answer would be that it depends, like so many things do, on the subject, the artist, and, most importantly, the audience. So ask yourself: what seduces you?

I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the beloved Octopus man, other than the one I took of the exhibition poster (which I was then chastised for) so here's the link to the flickr gallery/ museum set.

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