Photography in context

Rachel Swartz, Guest Blogger/Intern

As my colleague Evan will be discussed with you Kathryn’s personal inspirations and creative process, I’ll be writing about her work in the greater context of modern and contemporary art. I hope this series will shine a light on Kathryn’s work and her ability to pull the beauty out of nature, life, and experience, a concept that modern and contemporary artists have been representing for nearly two centuries through abstraction.

Before photography, artists struggled to capture what cubist Robert Delaunay called in 1912 “the eternal quality in art:” realism. Realism, “the very essence of beauty,” could not, as hard as painters and sculptors tried, ever be perfectly created; the fleeting nature of a time intensified the difficulty. It was the impressionists, Van Gogh and his compatriots, that first discovered abstraction’s ability to capture life’s moments of beauty; next Seurat used dots to mimic the experience of vision, then Picasso and Matisse in their epic experiments of shape and light reached what they thought was more beautiful than naturalistic painting, a sense of conception rather than vision. Color photography changed everything, and allowed artists to literally capture moments.

It is the only the most skilled photographers who take the moderns’ experiments in conception and apply them to their composition. The age of computers has allowed for even more manipulation of natural beauty, but I’d wager that Kathryn and artists stay truer to the vision of the moderns by not manipulating their compositions, and letting the viewer experience rather than see a moment in time.