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David Campany

David Campany is an artist and writer and Reader in Photography at the University of Westminster, London. He is the author of Art and Photography.

Titles by This Author

Picture for Women

Jeff Wall's Picture for Women (1979) marks the transition of photography as an art form from the printed page to the gallery wall. Before this, photographs—from the orthodox photographic work of Walker Evans to the Conceptual photography of Dan Graham—seemed intended for the page even when hung in a gallery. In Picture for Women, a woman looks outward, as if at the viewer; a camera occupies the center of the photograph; the photographer stands on the right. Modeled on Manet's famous painting Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère, in which a barmaid seems to look directly out of the painting, observed by a man on the right, Picture for Women establishes its own art historical genealogy, claiming its rightful position within the canon. Wall's photograph is an ambitious attempt to relate the artistic and spectatorial demands of the late 1970s to a modernist pictorial art that had been too hastily rejected by Conceptualism.

In this illustrated study, David Campany offers an account of Wall's move from a Conceptual approach to a reengagement with the idea of a singular (as opposed to serial) picture. He shows that Wall's decision to present his work as a large-scale back-lit transparency, together with his commitment to a singular image, amounted to a radical departure. He contrasts Wall’s idea of the photograph as a tableau or "picture," inherited from the history of painting, with the works of the "Pictures Generation"—including Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and Jack Goldstein—and argues that Picture for Women is inseparable from the modern fate of the picture in general.

Titles by This Editor

Edited by David Campany

The cinematic has been a springboard for the work of many influential artists, including Victor Burgin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stan Douglas, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall, among others. Much recent cinema, meanwhile, is rich with references to contemporary photography. Video art has taken a photographic turn into pensive slowness; photography now has at its disposal the budgets and scale of cinema. This addition to Whitechapel's Documents of Contemporary Art series surveys the rich history of creative interaction between the moving and the still photograph, tracing their ever-changing relationship since early modernism.

Still photography—cinema's ghostly parent—was eclipsed by the medium of film, but also set free. The rise of cinema obliged photography to make a virtue of its own stillness. Film, on the other hand, envied the simplicity, the lightness, and the precision of photography. Russian Constructivist filmmakers considered avant-garde cinema as a sequence of graphic "shots"; their Bauhaus, Constructivist and Futurist photographer contemporaries assembled photographs into a form of cinema on the page. In response to the rise of popular cinema, Henri Cartier-Bresson exalted the "decisive moment" of the still photograph. In the 1950s, reportage photography began to explore the possibility of snatching filmic fragments. Since the 1960s, conceptual and postconceptual artists have explored the narrative enigmas of the found film still. The Cinematic assembles key writings by artists and theorists from the 1920s on—including László Moholy-Nagy, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Victor Burgin, Jeff Wall, and Catherine David—documenting the photography-film dialogue that has enriched both media.

Contributors:
Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Raymond Bellour, Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Victor Burgin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Catherine David, Thierry de Duve, Gilles Deleuze, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Philippe Dubois, Régis Durand, Sergei Eisenstein, Mike Figgis, Hollis Frampton, Susanne Gaensheimer, Nan Goldin, Chris Marker, Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, László Moholy-Nagy, Beaumont Newhall, Uriel Orlow, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Constance Penley, Richard Prince, Steve Reich, Carlo Rim, Raul Ruiz, Susan Sontag, Blake Stimson, Michael Tarantino, Agnès Varda, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, and Peter Wollen.

Copublished with Whitechapel Art Gallery, London