Photography and Impressionism at the Barberini

In the 19th century, photography was a new form of art. In its "Photography and Impressionism" exhibit, the Barberini at the Potsdam Museum demonstrates the similarities it bears to paintings and the reasons for this.

October 15th, 2022
Constantinos Georgiou, News from Berlin
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Today, taking a picture takes only a few seconds, but photography was still a relatively new science 150 years ago. The Barberini exhibition at the Potsdam Museum, which is devoted to "New Art," examines the relationship between photography and the then-modern art movement of Impressionism.

"It's very special because there were very exciting interactions between the two media," says Helene von Saldern, who contributed to the exhibition's design. This is the first exhibition at the Barberini that focuses so much on photography. "In-house, we have deliberately decided to primarily show photos in order to place a very clear focus on the medium, so that one can see quite strikingly: There are really astounding similarities."

What Monet painted was recorded by photographers

According to curator Ulrich Pohlmann, photography was, at best, a template at the time, but art was not at first: "We noticed that some photographers went to the same places as Monet and also dealt with very similar phenomena, such as lighting conditions, captured weather situations, i.e. snow and landscapes."

Around 150 images from the Musee d'Orsay, the Société Francaise de Photographie in Paris, and the Munich City Museum were selected in collaboration with the Von der Heydt Museum Wuppertal. They are from 70 different photographers.

The word photography comes from the Greek and means "writing with light".

When colour is added to the photographs, the difference from painting almost disappears. The colours shimmer, and the jewellery glitters in the light. According to Helene von Salden, Heinrich Kühn's "Miss Mary in the Blue Costume" is one of her favourite photographs. In colour, it is his wife, dressed in a long dark blue dress. The recording lacks clarity. The jewellery sparkles in the light, and the colours of the green hat shimmer. "It's great that this photo immediately reminds you of the Impressionist motifs," says von Salden.


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