(Masters of Photography, 2011) (Grant Wood, 2011) Today at first glance, we might question the efforts of Edward Steichen in his piece, The Flatiron, 1905. With the advances of Photography in the 21st century it is hard for us to imagine how difficult the equipment was to work with in this medium. Steichen shows his viewers that he not only knew how to use the equipment, but manipulate it and creates a powerful effect as he studied architecture and nature at twilight. Seeing the reflection of the landscape on the ground and the dreary sky leads me to think Steichen was attempting to create a great effect of a mist in is image. Using contrasting tones he creates dark silhouettes of branches, but then is able to create distance with a lighter shade on the architecture. His foreground is not exactly very visible as we are just able to see basic shape. His middle ground and background might bring about some controversy, as those like my self would call the background the brightest sections where nothing is visible and the middle ground is slightly out of focus, revealing the large structures.
When contrasting piece Steichen’s photograph to is the Grant Wood painting, Fall Harvest great contrasts are revealed. In the painting the setting is completely different. Wood chooses to work on the rural landscape of a farm. In his piece the viewer gets a slight sense of depth as he has used perspective and created rolling hills that overlap the visual plane. The most interesting difference is that the painting has much more clarity and information for the viewer in the represented distant areas than the photograph. The painting gives the viewer an illusion that they can actually see for miles. The photograph is completely different, as in the darker setting it would be impossible to see such a distance. Steichen does give the viewer a short sense of distance, but it appears to be very short. The color pallet Wood selected is also slightly different. While, both pieces have a warm tonal feel, Wood has added green hues giving his piece greater vibrancy. In my opinion Wood had done brought his viewers attention to the middle ground as Steichen has. The background is less in focus and lighter and does not have the contrasting value creating greater detail. The foreground is in focus, but is darker almost creating a base or foundation for the viewer to start with and be lead into the middle ground with the dark angled lines.
There are also similarities in these pieces. We see how both artists chose to work with a darker foreground and lighter background, which helps draw the viewer into the piece, in this case creates a sense of depth. Both also contrast nature with man-made structures. Both artists used nature to separate the viewer from the architecture as they have both placed the viewer in nature looking to structures.
Knowing that both pieces are establishing the viewer in nature looking toward the architecture, I believe both paintings are for those not living in the cities. In both cases elements of nature have created a barrier and separated the viewer from the established structures. I find that as a way that each artist has addressed those that are not city dwellers as outsiders. Or beasts that lurk in the shadows.
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"Edward Steichen: The Flatiron (33.43.39) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Metmuseum.org. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.