Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reflecting on gallery walls

click photo to enlarge
When I frame a photograph or select a background for a photographic subject the colours I most commonly use are cream, black and white. There are those that argue the latter two are not colours but in everyday parlance they are and most people treat them as such. Their virtue as a backdrop is that they are neutral and interact with and modify a subject much less than any of the other colours. The same is broadly true of cream (and also grey).

In my experience today's galleries also favour these colours, especially white, above all others as a background for art works, particularly framed paintings, and undoubtedly for the same reasons. However, more traditional gallery buildings housing more traditional paintings sometimes go in for other colours such as drab purple, greyish blue, or autumn green, colours that, I suppose, better reflect the opulent decor of the houses in which the works would have originally hung. But, as far as modern galleries displaying contemporary or twentieth century work are concerned white is pre-eminent as a background with, as far as I can see, black a distant second.

Today's photograph shows a gallery with black painted walls in a small Lisbon museum - the Casa Museu Dr Anastacio Goncalves - created from a house and the collection of paintings and furnishings of its owner. The gallery was between exhibitions and lit only sufficiently to allow visitors to pass through safely to the main rooms of the building. The fall of the light and the colours appealed to me sufficiently to take this shot.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 25mm (50mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/13 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On