While in the UK in June I visited the National Portrait Gallery. It featured various famous pieces done of people like George Washington, Queen Elizabeth, Ian McKellen, Martin Luther, Mary Queen of the Scots, etc… There was a nice addition of photography to the museum though, which was a surprising and refreshing thing to see.
There of course was a heavy leaning towards older images of notable figures from the 20th century. Charlie Chaplan, Audrey Hepburn, and Winston Churchill are just the start of some famous photographic portraits included in the collection. It really shows how there is a clear change happening in the art world where many of the more recent famous portraits are no longer painted, drawn, or captured in ways other than with a camera!
It isn’t just the people that were photographed that are notable. The photographers are respected as skilled artists with wonderful portfolios of work. It is easy to see how we are starting to see photographers around the world like Pete Souza, Annie Leibovitz, and Steve McCurry becoming renowned for their work. Perhaps we are seeing this generation’s greatest artists create work that will define the century like the painters of the 19th century and prior did with theirs.
A second part of the museum dedicated to emerging art includes photographs next to modern paintings and drawings. It all shows photography as something at a level on par with paintings. It demonstrates that photography as an art form is gaining in strength as art today and holds its value over time just as well as other mediums. Perhaps we are living in a renaissance of art people will look back on and see a new era of expression through photography.