Thursday, November 30, 2006


Twilight. That transitory moment on the border between lightness and dark. The French refer to it as the time entre chien et loup - the time when the domestic dog settles down inside us and its ancestor the savage wolf goes on the prowl. How decidedly French, but I like it nonetheless.

It is my favourite time of day as it marks the transition from the utilitarian hours of daylight to something else - to something of infinite possibility (i.e. guilt-free pints). Time to turn off the computer, socialise, enjoy a drink, see a film, play, eat, meet a friend, relax, pour another drink. After a busy day it feels like a reward for success. Some days it comes too soon, and it makes me fret over the day's failures. But either way, twilight is the one part of the day that seems to give more than it takes. Like Vegas in reverse.

As such my thoughts are carried back to my most recent Vegas-meets-twilight experience at the V&A show, Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour. Upon walking in you are immediately enveloped by the enchanting world of manufactured twilight that all sense of reality is shed (like slots for a gallery geek). The show depicts eight top-notch contemporary photographers' works, showing scenes from the hour of twilight - including some stand-outs from Gregory Crewdson (shown here) which satisfyingly feel like Twin Peaks crossed with Edward Hopper.

I know much of the art intelligentsia considers photography too popular and easily digestible. They say there is too little of a filter between our lives and the moments on view. But why does popular have to be bad? Making the sublime identifiable - where's the travesty? The V&A should introduce the Twilight show with an MGM lion. Life's a movie. We're the script. Enjoy the show.

Oh, and the new V&A cafe recently re-opened and serves up top-notch nosh including a full roast (and live pianist) on Sunday. The style is somewhere between Carluccio's and William Morris. Worth a trip on its own.

Twilight Until Dec 17
V&A, Cromwell Road, London, SW7


Anonymous max said...

Excellent. I love Gregory Crewdson. Is there any Edgar Martins ... ?

1:39 pm  
Anonymous Dave, a script writer said...

The Barbican also has an excelent photography exhibit on but it is nowhere near as intimate and well executed as the V&A. But worth a look as well nevertheless.

Crewdson has some permanent pieces at the White Cube if interested as well.

1:40 pm  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Photography is still a young art, and I wonder what direction it will go in the future with new computer technology. I cannot specify a current photographer who is "as good as the greats of not so long ago," or who "has come up with a new 35 mm black-and-white aesthetic."

But digitization may completely alter the way we look at the world, young people are primed by the imagery of MTV

It could be a generation more interested in an aesthetic more guided by computer than by realism.

I never pay to see photos.

1:46 pm  
Anonymous Tanya said...

Max - I prefer Chrystel Lebas who shoots in forests all with a panaromic camera and long exposures to capture the effects of fading light.

1:50 pm  
Anonymous Glyn said...

Personally I can't wait to see this show and I believe that photography has lots of artistic merit. It gets me to go to galleries I wouldnt normally go to. Some of Crewdson's work I have to agree is especially compelling -you are right CS you can feel like you are on a film set. Never thought like that of it before. Camera, lights, action.....

1:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crewdson just took off from Steichen and Hopper and Cindy Sherman.

Noir meets photography is NOT new.

2:02 pm  
Anonymous the philistine said...


2:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Love the blog

3:59 pm  
Anonymous Genie said...

This show is truly amazing.
Went last night for late night at V&A and really loved every room.
Truly special.
Don't miss it.

4:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a photographer. As I read many of the comments, I don’t notice many artists speaking. So I thought, I better add my “voice”.

As an artist who loves photography–particularly my own photography, I am constantly challenged to promote my work and “share” it with the world. In the past, I have had to “sell” to galleries (post cards and phone calls) and stock photography companies–to pay the bills. It is simply a part of being an artist in this era…we all have to pay bills.

4:08 pm  
Anonymous Mike said...

I have heard from way too many people here and elsewhere that photography is not art, that it is no more than a craft. After all, all a photograph can capture is reality, right? That is a naive and foolish assumption. The creative path of a photographer is in some ways, indeed, more limited than the path of a sculptor or a painter. And, it is much easier to take a decent or even good photograph than it is to paint a good picture or make a good sculpture.

However, photographs do not capture reality. Those of you who think they do are foolish. They show us a view of life that we cannot see without the photograph; in other words, they are a creation, not bound to reality. Even before digital editing came into vogue, photographs could be manipulated to show a particular effect. For an example, take a look at some of Ansel Adams' photographs; if you take a careful look, you will realize that the vast majority differ quite vastly from even a black and white perception of reality. Even without digital editing software, a photographer can lighten or darken a picture, or change the contrast. With digital photo-editing software, an artist can do anything, from changing to brightness or darkness to lengthening legs or enhancing breasts (for those of you who are unaware, these techniques are used quite often--the beautiful women who exist on the covers of Vogue or even Playboy exist only on a piece of paper).

Another thing is that the photographer is not even capturing reality with her lens. The photographer decides what goes into the photo, how things are lined up, and (the horror!) may even move things in reality to get a particular effect on film, or change the lighting.

4:10 pm  
Anonymous honkman said...

Now, the main question arises again: is photography an art? I will ask another question instead: is every painting art? The answer to that would have to be no. Paintings are not necessarily art--we do not buy a child's finger painting for huge sums of money even though it may show more apparent skill than a Jackson Polick painting. Why do we not? The answer is because the art is missing from the child's painting--there is no clear intention, no meaning.

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Claire said...

Art is whatever that means to you. Why are you getting so serious about it here?

4:15 pm  
Anonymous Naz said...

Nice to see the V&A offering up photography so we are not just stuck with the Portrait.
Sounds good. As many have agreed Crewdson's stuff is grabbing. May well try and make it to see this.

4:23 pm  
Anonymous Keith said...

I prefer Banksy personally to any other art

5:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like the French translation. Makes sense for a change

5:05 pm  
Anonymous peterpan said...

Fun site. Found you from the Guardian blogs. Very enjoyable reading.

5:13 pm  
Blogger That's so pants said...

Mmm. Roast with pianist sounds good.

5:21 pm  
Anonymous Ella said...

I agree the sound of a Sunday roast and twilight gallery visit sounds divine. Better than my usual hangover lie-in duvet days. You lead a full life there eh Slicky? Even if I dont make your events I like to know what is out there.

5:25 pm  
Anonymous Dave, a script writer said...

CS - I am afriad no one yet today is getting to the crux of the matter. We hear over and over this question you pose as to whether photography can be considered as its own form of Art. And we see numerous treatises on yes it is and no it isn't. The main objection seems to be that it is primarily a mechanical process that handles most of the work—that the photographer has nothing further to do with it, other than some manipulation in the printing of the picture.

My answer is that although they are good technicians, they do not have that spark of the artist. And that spark is a quality one is born with, not learned.

Like a writer. I am sure you would agree. There are good writers that lack good ideas. That is a craft not an art. The combination of the two is what defines an artist.

Does a blog as opposed to a book make you any less a writer? I should say not!

5:45 pm  
Anonymous Phil said...

I am looking out the window right now and your twilight writings make a world of sense. So much possibility...I am heading to the pub!

7:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking out my window now looks like twilight and it is only 9am. What a dreadful time of year.

10:19 am  
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4:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Barbican also has an excelent photography exhibit on but it is nowhere near as intimate and well executed as the V&A. But worth a look as well nevertheless.

Crewdson has some permanent pieces at the White Cube if interested as well.
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8:49 am  

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