Assignment 4: Critical review comments

Photomontage

I embarked upon this project knowing a little (but not a great deal) about the topic. I had previously attended an OCA study visit to the Whitechapel Gallery to see the Hannah Hoch exhibition. I had also seen David Hockney’s collages, including Pearblossom Highway, in his exhibition at the Tate. I also came across Romare Bearden’s work at Tate Modern when I visited the Soul of a Nation – Art in the Age of Black Power exhibition. I had not come across his work before, but it was very striking and left an impression on me. I also knew of the work of Jeff Wall (but might not have called his work photomontage before writing this essay!). These all gave me the idea of tracing the development of photomontage over the years and looking at the changes that have occurred.

I learned a considerable amount through writing the essay . I had not come across Henry Peach Robinson before and I was fascinated by the dispute between him and Peter Henry Emerson over ‘straight’ photography or the use of artifice. It was interesting, at the conclusion of my essay, to note how this debate continues! With the number of photos being taken on mobile phones today and the widespread use of apps to digitally manipulate the images; I would have thought that nobody would expect photographs to still be the product of ‘straight’ photography. But it would seem that even the art critic Waldemar Januszczak still wants to believe that ‘the camera never lies’.

I also discovered how photomontage was used for propaganda by studying the work of John Heartfield. I hesitate to use the term propaganda as it usually has negative connotations – perhaps it would be more appropriate to describe it as ‘political work’. In either case the message of the work has not detracted from the aesthetic merits of the image.

It is interesting to compare present day works and what may have influenced them. For example Peter Kennard has used digital manipulation technology to combine images, but I would classify his work as being in the tradition of John Heartfield. Jeff Wall uses the same technology but I think his work is more in the tradition of Henry Peach Robinson than that of the Dadaists.

I believe that I have researched the subject thoroughly and presented the outcomes in a clear and coherent manner. I have tried to take on board the feedback from my tutor’s last report by making my critiques more analytical rather than simply being descriptive.

The Critical Review can be seen here: How Has Photomontage Been Used in the Creation of Landscape Images?

Photographic images have been remove from the document for copyright reasons