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Magic Realism in Photography

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  1. Introduction
  2. The medium's ability to render reality so precisely
  3. Wyeth's painting of his neighbor afflicted with polio
  4. Changing the situational reality in a studio setting
  5. The non-technical element to control the photograph
  6. Critics of Wyeth's representational work
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

Present-day, the meaning of the term magic realism varies depending on the art form being described. Its meaning has altered over the past century and yet maintains aspects of its original use. The term was first in a title role with visual arts critic Franz Roh's book published 1925 Nach Expressismus: Magicher Realismus: Probleme der neusten europaischen Malerei (?After Expressionism: Magical Realism: Problems of the newest European painting?). Roh's magic realism was meant to emphasize that ?the autonomy of the objective world around us was once more to be enjoyed; the wonder of matter that could crystallize into objects was to be seen anew? (Roh).

[...] One critic of Wyeth's representational work claimed that it is ?formulaic stuff not very effective even as illustrational ?realism.'? This critic missed the fact that from formula and from persistent style there can emerge ?elaborations, shifts, epiphanies.? In my documentary work, which I do consider very separate from my personal work, I am exploring the ?formulaic stuff? in order to find the alterations that can make realism into something more. The still-photographic documentary canon is a repetition in style and approach. [...]


[...] Although the link between exceptional documentary photography and magic realism may seem tenuous, I do see it's potential. It is very difficult to apply the term magic realism to photography of any kind; perhaps because it seems that every kind of photography may be capable of being magic realism. Since the meaning of the term has come to encompass so many definitions, there is an argument for many kinds of photographs to be considered as magic realist photographs. In my photography, I truly want to infuse the logical even world with something as illogical as a state of mind, an imagination. [...]

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