Robert von Sternberg

Tenebroso and chiaroscuro light effects are well-known techniques in fine art painting. Nothing seems to add mystery and meaning to an image in the way that a close envelope of shadow does.  Even long before photographic materials and cameras were really capable of capturing low-light and night views, the “light in the dark” has fascinated photographers as well.  Despite the technical limitations of slow films and slow lenses, the lure of dark scenes and dark ideas was irresistible to early 20th-century photo-artists.  Brassai used the glow of street lamps and light spilled from windows, and Bill Brandt sometimes used the light of the moon, to create extraordinary collections of images in the early 1930s.  Robert von Sternberg’s Crowded Vacancies are more modern records of night scenes that continue the tradition of photographers’ seeing things after dark. 

"Finally, I also guaranteed students that if they selected their own dress attire for an event, or ordered their own dinner from a restaurant menu, they were decidedly artistically discerning enough to make meaningful photographs --- if they were willing to expend the energy to learn to see, rather than just to look."

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