Monday, September 14, 2009

Project 3

For this assignment, I already had a location in mind, the newly opened Brandhorst Museum of modern art

The architecture of the museum is in many ways more spectacular than the exhibits and is truly art in its own right.  The building covered in strips of brightly coloured metal mounted vertically in ribbons of colour.  This presented an ideal subject to illustrate and measure depth of field.  To maximize the effect I selected a very fast f/1.2 50mm prime. In the image above I have marked what i perceive to be the limits of sharpness with vertical yellow lines.  The largest aperture creates a very thin depth of field, an issue I have had when trying to obtain focus using this lens at its widest. Clearly as the aperture narrows the depth of field widens substantially.

Having completed the exercise I also took the opportunity to photograph the building from a couple of different angles, here are two that I think bring out the unique look of this building

17mm, 1/80, f/8, ISO 100
22mm, 1/1600, f/4, ISO 100
The lighting conditions were poor as it was nearly mid day and the Sun was just outside the frame, a polar filter helped to reduce the glare somewhat.  Finally I headed into the museum to check out the collection.  First of all the architecture inside is almost as impressive as outside, huge spaces, bright natural lighting, and wood dominate the interior.  The building alone is worth the 7 Euro entry fee.  The artists on display are a cross section of modern artists, some very familiar to me  such as Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol, others less so, such as Alex Katz and Cy Twombly.
The Andy Warhol collection is large and impressive, although not his most iconic work.  From the perspective of a very art unaware student of photography his work interested me the most due to the frequest use of almost photorealistic imagery, but presented in very simple color and form.  Two pieces caught my attention, the first the largest Rorschach inkblot I have ever seen was simple but drew me in as it was able to completely encompass my field of view and left me feeling somewhat pyschoanalyzed.  The second image, Mustard race riot, was a montage of photos of a nasty looking race riot rendered in mustard yellow, but with the right side of the picture blank of any images.  I had a sense that the right side was hiding images that were perhaps more disturbing.

The museum bookshop proved to be well stocked and I picked up a copy of "Banksy" published 2005.  I have frequently read pieces about Banksy in the press, the broadsheets praising his work, the tabloids damning it.  This was a chance to come to my own conclusions by reading his viewpoint and looking at a broad range of his work.  I was very impressed with the wit and social commentary, in particular the play on words or visual jokes implicit in many pieces.  The most striking element was the fleeting nature of the work, seen by most as simple vandalism, the local authorities frequently destroy (they would call it cleaning) the work. Banksy frequently refers to the number of days and image survives in the book.  Thus the only long term existence of the work is in the photographs taken by Banksy shortly after the it is completed. Additionally as much of the work is a social statement the placement of the painting and its relationship to the immediate surroundings are as much a part of the art work as the image itself, making photography an integral part of how the art is experienced. 

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