Triptychs

Some images work well in and of themselves and need no supporting cast, whether that be text, audio, or other images. Yet other times, images seem to tell a better story when grouped as a package, as viewers sometimes find in photo stories or photo essays found in newspapers or magazines. But photojournalistic stories are not what I what to write about tonight. (Although I am a huge fan of W. Eugene Smith’s photo stories in Life magazine!)

Grouping images in pairs or trios is the topic instead. Specifically I am referring to diptychs and triptychs. In this blog I have already posted several diptychs, but tonight it’s about triptychs. The word triptych comes from an early writing tablet used by the Romans in which there was one central writing panel flanked by additional panels left and right, which were hinged to the central one. Eventually this configuration was adopted by early Christian artists and was used for both paintings and carved reliefs, such as the Byzantine Harbaville Triptych from the 10th century CE.

Today many photographers group photos as either diptychs or triptychs, including yours truly. Recently I had the opportunity to enter an international photo competition in Texas and the theme centered around groups of three (read triptych here). The exhibition is called Menage a Trois II , which comes from the French expression ménage à trois, meaning “household of three”. While typically this references a three-way sexual affair, which is not the case here for this exhibition at the Watson Studio Gallery, located not far from Austin, Texas. (However, for an excellent read, try Ernest Hemingway’s In the Garden of Eden, which I read during my grad school days.)

The triptych of images below are the ones accepted for the juried exhibition at the Texas art gallery. The images are: Tall Rancher, SuperMan, and Big John.

Three Giants

© 2009 Terry Ownby

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