Static Moments Photographic Notions of Time in the Paintings of Degas, Vuillard, Bonnard and Sickert
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis explores the relationship between photography and painting from the mid-nineteenth-century to the early twentieth-century. Specifically, I focus on the artistic outputs of four painters, Degas, Vuillard, Bonnard and Sickert, and the different manners in which they incorporated photography within their creative practices. In particular, I concentrate on photography’s representation of and relationship with time, discussing this in relation to three concepts, that of the narrative moment, memory and motion; concepts that painters often experimented with and explored during the timeframe mentioned.
Throughout the thesis I examine how the paintings of my selected artists compare and contrast with photographic imagery. By doing so I demonstrate how these artists incorporated and commented on photographic notions of time within their paintings. Three of the artists, Degas, Vuillard and Bonnard, also experimented with photography and I look at how their photographic experiments related to and/or impacted their painting practices. This thesis argues that the selected painters’ experimentation with photography did not hinder their creative vision, but rather enhanced it. Further, I comment on how these artists recognised the differences between photographic representations of life and their own visual and emotional experiences, thereby challenging photography’s connection with objective truth; an important critique considering that photography was still in its infancy.