20th Century European Photography

Isn’t it amazing how far the world has come in technology? Why, just within the past ten years we have accomplished far more than I’m sure those from the 17th and 18 centuries ever thought possible. Well, we’ve even managed to accomplish more within the past five years than the 20th century has ever seen. I remember when the Apple computer was just a “bloom” of an idea and Microsoft was just a gleam in Bill gate’s eyes. In this article, however let’s backtrack to our recently passed brother, the 20th century to see just how far we have come along with our old friend, the photograph.

At first glance, some of us are still mystified by the fact that photographs use to be black and white. The children of this era have no idea (unless of course, they have samples), of how the process of taking photographs even got started. Starting with the first ever permanent photocopy from 1826 to now, there has been a whirlwind of achievement for the modern camera and its finished product. In Europe, the photograph has seen its share of sights and scenery. Up until this most recent time in fact, the European countries still relied heavily on the quality and character of paintings. Painting is the cornerstone for all of Europe’s heritage and history up to these modern times.

By the turn of the 20th century, however photography was taking the lead and a new movement began in Europe as well as in America known as “Pictorialism” which had first come around in the 1800s and ended in the 1920s. The “Pictorials” were a modest group of men who photographed their viewpoint of the world within the commercial and snap-shot photography realms. The group’s so-called “claim to fame” was that they produce photographs that were as genuine in appearance as an oil painting. Clubs were formed as the groups of Pictorials grew in number. The first of these clubs to be established resided in London and was called “The Linked Ring brotherhood”.

Post World War I led to the art of impressionism and once again the brush was dueling with the snap-shot. It wasn’t long after the war was over though, that painting and photography quit trying to work together and the latter had taken precedence over the other.

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