What is the Effect of Form-Shape on Innovation and Creativity in Photography?

May 24, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

What is the Effect of Form/Shape on Innovation and Creativity in Photography?

This question is maybe the one that determines a photographer's future. Being a master photographer? Or being a creative and innovative photographer?

When we look at the painters and photographers in history, we can see that they have generally continued to produce works in the form (shape) in which they have decided to produce after their periods of inexperience. They have affirmed this behavior which they called "consistency". This 'consistency' has been supported by the view that the form (shape) of a painting or photograph should lead you to the creator of it, that is, when you see a work, you should be able to know its artist by looking at its shape.

“There is quite a high number of people who prefer consistency as a useful feature because it adds calmness and clarity to a work of art. But to what extent is it right for an artist, who has a wide variety of creative possibilities before him, to always choose one of these possibilities and leave the others aside?

A technique whose rules are well learned, and certain subjects that are well mastered may take an artist somewhere. However, the destination is often the area of mastery rather than creativity. Every master can be a good producer, but that doesn't mean he's a good creator.”

It is known that Picasso, who began to record all his works at the age of fifty, produced 13.500 paintings and drawings, more than a hundred thousand prints, 34.000 book descriptions, 300 sculptures, and ceramic works in his career of 75 years.

He has also gone down in the history of world art as the most productive artist.

"The only period in which Picasso consistently developed as an artist was the period of Cubism between 1907 and 1914. (...) And this period, as we shall see later, is a great exception in Picasso’s life. Otherwise, he has not developed. In whatever way one applied the coordinates, it would be impossible to make a graph with a steady ascending curve applicable to Picasso’s career.
Yet this would be possible in the case of almost every other great painter from Michelangelo to Braque. (...)

In the life work of no other artist in each group of works so independent of those which have just gone before, or so irrelevant to those which are to follow. (...) Picasso has stayed young. He has stayed young because he has not developed consistently." 

If we detail what Berger wanted to express here, we can say that Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and many other painters had a common development in their transition from inexperience to mastery periods. After reaching the mastery period, they continued their production in the form they mastered. However, we cannot see such an approach in Picasso. Picasso stunned me when I first noticed this. I could say that a work belongs to Picasso only from the signature on it and the trust I have in the archive records.

You can get some idea of this discontinuity in Picasso’s work by looking at three paintings below – painted within two years

The first painting from left: The Coiffure, 1954
Middle painting: Jacqueline with Black Scarf, 1954
Painting on the right: Seated Woman, 1954

"Picasso is fascinated by and devoted to his own creativity. What he creates – the finished product – is almost incidental. To some degree this is of course true of all artists: their interest in a work diminishes when it is finished. But in Picasso’s case, it is very much more pronounced. It even affects the way he works. He denies that there is such a thing as progress in the creation of a painting:
Each change, each step, each metamorphosis – as he calls it – is merely a reflection of a new state in him. For Picasso, what he is is far more important than what he does. He projects this priority onto all art."

Below are some of Picasso's works that he has produced over the years. Which do you think belongs to Picasso and which best describes Picasso? J

Blue Period-The Old Guitarist-1903
  Blue Period -The Old Guitarist-1903                   Love,Fame,Tragedy Tate-1932                      Family of Acrobats with Monkey-1905

                              Reservoir-1909                                                                                     Weeping Woman-1937

Picasso's answer to the question about his form is: “Actually, maybe I am a painter without any form.  Form often confines a painter to the same look, the same technique, and the same formula for years and even his entire life. (...) I personally move a lot. You see me here, but I would have already changed, I would have gone elsewhere. There is no time when I am stable, and that explains why I don't have a form”..! This is actually a joking answer. These words mean that he actually has multiple forms rather than having a single form. If we can understand that a work, that we have not seen before, belongs to Picasso, what else then the form could it be because of?

According to Clement Greenberg: "the most important function of the avant-garde was not the ‘experiment, but to find a path."

What are the examples of the impact of form on innovation and creativity in the world of photography?

One of the avant-garde photographers of the century is undoubtedly André Kertész. Kertész's work had widespread and diverse effects on many photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Brassaï, who counted him as a mentor during the late 1920s and early 1930s. His personal work in the 1960s and 1970s inspired countless other contemporary photographers. Kertész combined a photojournalistic interest in movement and gesture with a formalist concern for abstract shapes; hence his work has historical significance in all areas of postwar photography.

In fact, Henri Cartier-Bresson expresses his respect for him in one of his speeches and says: “Whatever we have done, Kertesz did first.”.

Kertész has never acted on a permanent form in his photographs and has produced his photographs through innovative and creative forms throughout his life.

When we look at the photographs of Kertész below, we can naturally ask ourselves the following question. Which describes Kertész?

     Melancholic Tulip-1939,Kertész                  Meudon,1928,Kertész                               Satiric Dancer,1926,Kertész
         Distortion (Series),1933,Kertész                         Poloroid (Series) ,1979,Kertész                    Martinique,Sea View,1972 ,Kertész

Trent Parke, born in 1971, is one of the photographers who proved to us that creativity and innovation can be realized in every period of history, regardless of the branch of art. In terms of creativity and innovation, it is useful to mention Trent Parke, who has had a great influence on photography not only in Australia but also all over the world in the 21st century. It proves to us that even though two hundred years have passed since the birth of photography, innovative and creative forms can still be produced.

Having focused on sports photography before in his professional life, Parke changed his direction to art photography over time and created productions that had a great impact in this field.


PAT2014003W0-376PAT2014003W0-376No.376 .Portrait of a boy on a street corner. Adelaide. Australia. 2013.  
                          Street Photo,Trent Parke                                                              The Camera is God,2013,Trent Parke                                                           

                                                               Harts Ranges,2004,Trent Parke

      The Christmas Tree Bucket,2007, Trent Parke                            The Crimson Line, T2019, Trent Parke


Can we ask the same question again? Which photograph or series of photographs describes Trent Parke?

My answer is 'none alone' but altogether.

We are in the following distinction while taking photographs; we will either continue on our path as a “master” photographer by constantly combining the same form with our content in our productions, or we will be the master of unfinished human experience by boldly discovering unique ways by combining new forms with our new ways of seeing, open to innovations and creativity.

I leave this quote of Picasso, who made the whole art world question what creativity and innovation are and left his mark on the history of art in this direction, to be questioned and thought on.

¨The important thing is not what the artist does, but what he/she is.¨



1- Modern to Post-modern Art – Mehmet Yılmaz
2- John Berger, Picasso's Success, and Failure, Pages 48-51







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