Kunstformen: Fotografie

Artforms - Photography

The word photography comes from the Greek works φωτός photós 'light' and γράφειν graphein 'to write/to draw’, that is “to draw with light”. The term was first used in a German newspaper already in 1839 and the oldest surviving photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 or 1827.

The process used to create a photograph involves the projecting of a light image onto a light-sensitive receiving medium where it is imprinted (analogue photography) or converted into electronic data (digital photography).

Photography is a very versatile medium, as it can be used with artistic purposes, with commercial ones, as in advertising, fashion, it is used to document events, like in journalism, or for private use to capture and freeze a moment of someone’s life in time as a memento.

The artistic character of photography was an element of dispute since its birth: already Charles Baudelaire in 1859 wrote about the influence of photography in the arts and the changes of the perception of art itself. He understood that the new medium was challenging classical paint and criticized it because, in his opinion, it would destroy the primate of painting by being a mechanical medium devoid of natural beauty and sentiment.

The Daguerrotype is the first widely available photographic process in the 1840s and 1850s  (the name comes from its inventor Louis Jacque Mandé Daguerre), where a photograph is developed on silver-plated copper plates using mercury vapors fixed in a saline or a sodium thiosulphate solution and the result is a unicate.

The negative to positive system had already been invented in 1835 in England by William Fox Talbot and in 1839 1839 Carl August von Steinheil and Franz Ritter von Kobell produced their first photographs using the negative process they had developed themselves, a further development of Daguerre's invention and they took pictures of Munich's city centre.

Until this moment, photography was only in black and white, but around the year 1850 the American Levi Hill claimed to have invented first colour photography and ten years later Niépce de Saint-Victoir developed Heliochromy, a process that printed all colours on a single light-sensitive medium.

In the 21st century traditional film-based technologies became less and less relevant with the advent of digital techniques but although the analogue industry almost collapsed, the interest on analog photography has been more preeminent in artistic fields as a method of expression. Photography as an important place in art history courses and its produce and methods are being preserved and documented to maintain the knowledge through time.

The critics to photography through time, of being a technical, standardized and mechanical instrument devoid of sentiments and, because of its reproducibility, not enough aulic, tried to take it away from the artistic world. Its use started in the arts as teaching aid and model.
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