Laurence Aëgerte‘s conceptual photography series, “Hermitage, The Modernists” depicts staged people and objects in front of classic paintings – by artists like Van Dongen, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Picasso – that were on view at the Hermitage Amsterdam during 2010. Aëgerte’s series complicates the expectation of the experience of iconic works by turning them into photographic palimpsests – the patterns, textures, and colors of the people and objects are juxtaposed against the paintings-as-backdrop that frame the foregrounded subject, elevating the layers of significance of the original painting.
Aëgerte says, “I wanted to investigate our individual relation to art and our perception of iconic artworks. The more the icon is alive in our mind—by means of reproductions and stories around it—the higher is the intensity of the expectation to be confronted with its reality. But what can we really experience of it? When our vision of a work of art is altered, it becomes a reversed mirror—anchored in our present time. By layering the images, I seek the in-between spaces and bits of time that occur in the process of looking.”