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Holme, Charles [Hrsg.]
Studio: international art: Art in photography: with selected examples of European and American work — London, Special number 2.1905

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http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/studio1905specnum2/0151
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ARTISTIC PHOTOGRAPHY IN
ITALY. BY DR. ENRICO THOVEZ

S in other countries artistic photography in Italy
is not altogether the creation of recent years.
Here, as elsewhere, “ artistic photographs ”
were produced long before the artistic cha-
racteristics which cause them to be placed in
a special category had come to be recognised
by that designation. Moreover, although the
artist temperament had long since discovered
the secret which in so short a time was destined to revive
photography, the ideas then prevailing were not too favourable
to that expansion. What one cared chiefly for was the clearness
of the details, the precision of the background, the exactness of the
exposure to the light—in short, the principal regard was for purely
technical qualities. The blurred outline, the dim background or
the deliberately prolonged pose was barely tolerated : such, it was
severely remarked, was not “ real photography.”

Some fifteen years since it was ideas of this sort which influenced
the decisions of the judges at photographic exhibitions : sheer
photography absolutely dominated the artist.

Photography underwent the same evolution as painting. Just as
the realistic painters chose the least ephemeral conditions of the
atmosphere—full sunshine, or total greyness—in order that they
might the more conveniently and the more vigorously study reality,
and with no thought of representing it in its less expressive moments,
so the photographers, equally lacking in poetry, and equally blinded
by the infantile belief that perfection lay in sharpness of contour,
in pitiless precision of details, selected nature’s sunniest moments, the
disagreeable result being the suppression of sky and cloud, and all
the mystery of the background. Woe to him who dared neglect to
“ diaphragm,” or had not all his planes exact, or was so bold as to
allow himself a little excess of exposure in order to obtain softer
greys !

Photography of this sort, based on the advice ot photographic
manuals compiled by manufacturers and founded on the dogmas of
chemistry and optics, was naturally altogether devoid of poetry : it
simply succeeded in distorting nature by producing a sort of congealed
and geometrical image, which so far from being true to Nature was
simply a miserable treachery : a result easily arrived at, seeing that

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