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Real Objects Made to Appear Like Two-Dimensional Drawings


In her series Representations, photographer Cynthia Greig whitewashes mundane objects and traces the edges and details with charcoal. Things like a toaster, fruit, bottles, and books are all given this painterly touch and photographed against a white background. When devoid of environment and context, an pretty commonplace transformation happens, and the three-dimensional still lifes take on the appearance of simple charcoal drawings. They might look as though they've been Photoshopped, but Greig insists this is not the case.

In an artist statement, she calls the series an homage to photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot and his book, The Pencil of Nature. Published in 1844, Fox Talbot demonstrated all of the different ways photography could be used, as back then it was a new form of art. According to the Glasgow University Library, “Fox Talbot spent years trying perfect the process of calotypes so he could creatively interpret and reveal the truth or ‘reality' of his surroundings.”

Much like Fox Talbot's work, Greig says that Representations “explores the concept of photographic truth and its correspondence to perceived reality.” By painting objects white, she creates a cognitive dissonance for the viewer. Our past experiences tell us that a toaster should be shiny, an apple should be red, and french fries should be yellow. But, with simply paint and charcoal, she plays with our understanding of what is real and what is fake from a medium that is meant to capture reality.












Cynthia Greig website
via [22 Words]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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