Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: Nathaniel Mellors

Out of the Light, Into the Shadows

The History of the Photogram

Raphael-Hefti-framed-Lycopodium-ii-UK_salts_12

Rafael Hefti, Lycopodium, 2011

 

A photogram is not a photograph, not really. Sure, it is usually discussed as a subset of photography, and it was born around the same time, from similar chemistry, but is practically and conceptually only remotely related. A photogram is no more a photograph than a photocopy, an X-ray or a digital scan. Photography typically uses lenses to project light onto film, and then onto paper, in order to render an objective representation of a scene or object. It changed the world because of its reproducibility, and because of its capacity for vivid mimesis. Read the rest of this entry »

On the Grotesque

Basil Wolverton, Heap, 1955
© The Wolverton Estate. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York

The grotesque got its name by mistake. When, one day in fifteenth-century Rome, a young man fell into a hole in a hillside, he assumed he’d discovered a Roman grotto. He fetched a lantern and found wild frescoes over the grotto’s walls: half-human, half animal figures, with legs and arms transforming into curling vines or ornamental volutes. In fact, he had stumbled upon Nero’s buried Villa Aurea, the raised floor level giving the rooms a grotto-like appearance. Nevertheless, the term “grotteschi” stuck as a label for this newly discovered style that radically dissented from the classical restraint to which the Renaissance had hitherto adhered. Read the rest of this entry »