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As digital cameras and tools like Adobe Photoshop make photography more accessible and manipulable, the art form has become increasingly popular among contemporary artists.
Start your search with Jaykoe, whose Capoeira triptych captures the dance-like element in the Brazilian martial art. By inverting the photograph’s colours the focus shifts from the individual to the movement itself.
Reed Hearn floats between abstract and expressionist photography. Hearn distorts images by zooming in on unusual details. In Departure, the unusual camera angle turns the flat planes of a modernist building into abstract blocks, whilst in Sunset Boulevard it is the reflections in the water that create a sense of unreality. The influence of American artist Ed Ruscha in Hearn’s work is evident in Paleo. Here, we see how Ruscha’s iconic screen print Standard Station has been reimagined by Hearn, whose expressionist photography creates that same vivid Americana sensation that Ruscha could only achieve through painting back in the 60s.
British artist David Hockney was always sceptical of photography and its potential to show “the truth”. “I mean, photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralysed cyclops-for a split second”, he once said. “But that's not what it's like to live in the world.” In the 1980s, when a curator visiting Hockney’s home in Hollywood left behind some Polaroid film, instead of returning it, Hockney began to experiment. He used the film to create a form of photography that captured reality’s glitches as well as its multiple dimensions. What followed was Hockney’s own version of expressionist photography; a series of images he called Joiners. For each image, he took multiple pictures of the same scene, joining them together to create a new breed of photograph that had both depth and movement – “It’s our movement that tells we’re alive,” he said.
Expressionist photographers attempt to wrestle back control over the image from the camera, distorting their pictures in an effort to bridge the perceptions of humans and machines. Expressionist photographer Wolfgang Tillmans said: “I try to approximate the way I see the world, not in a linear order but as a multitude of parallel experiences”. One way he succeeds is by using his camera to zoom in on overlooked details, such as the film forming on an old cup of coffee or the engine of a plane mid-flight.
Find out more in our Guide To Photography.