“Once he left the studio, it was impossible for the photographer to copy the painters’ schemata. He could not stage-manage the battle, like Uccello or Velásquez, bringing together elements which had been separate in space and time, nor could he rearrange the parts of his picture to construct a design that pleased him better.
From the reality before him he could only choose that part that seemed relevant and consistent, and what would fill his plate. If he could not show the battle, explain its purpose and its strategy, or distinguish its heroes from its villains, he could show what was too ordinary to paint: the empty road scattered with cannon balls, the mud encrusted on the caisson’s wheels, the anonymous faces, the single broken figure by the wall.
Intuitively, he sought and found the significant detail. His work, incapable of narrative, turned toward symbol.”
John Szarkowski: The Photographers Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2009.
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