Tribute to Picabia

Photography that mimics painting: it is now a well-known that the photograph for a long time was considered a ‘minor’ art form, appreciable only if respectful of the standards of painting.
In 1921, Francis Picabia (photographed by Man Ray) in the work "La Veuve Joyeuse"1 shifted the focus from the referrer to the language, thus declaring the death of traditional painting and independence of photography.
The Merry Widow can free herself from the pictorial language and so discover her exuberant independence: deconstructing the referrer, manipulating and reproducing it over and over again.
With the advent of the digital language the Merry Widow but become perhaps a little too cheerful: it is not only representation, an imitation of reality, but becomes even a presentation, a presentation that sometimes really builds the pretence.
No big deal, if the referrer is no longer represented, but rather presented, simply  simulated. The important thing is, to quote Magritte, have ever clear that: "Ceci n'est pas un dessin".
The drawing, not drawing ... it is not even a photo of the drawing, not even a photograph ... it is the ambivalent ‘nothing’ in its phenomenological structure. The fruit of machine and software and their innate creative symbiosis.
This opening shows a huge variety of possibilities: images that can evolve independently, independently of the will "of the artist by chance".
He is invited, by virtue of the ease of manipulation, and often without knowledge of the facts, to the spectacle of his work.
The initial image then becomes a possibility born of the referrer and comes to life with a simple keyboard command.
With the spread of internet and mass digital tools, resulting in the "democratic" means (not only cameras but also iphones, apps for post production as Pics Art, Pixlr Express, etc.) we increasingly run the risk of making real what is not real and pretend that everything that has a semblance of art is art, especially where there is no such intention.
If it is true, as some theorists of the image sustain2, that digital reproduction is nothing more than a "false revolution", given that you can do with digital photography what before was done already anyway with analog photography, then it is true that its ease of use complicates things a little, since increased ability to manipulate the image has made photography a tool even more an ambiguous identity3.

1 Francis Picabia ‘La Veuve Joyeuse’, 1921, oil, paper and photography on canvas, 36x28 inches, private collection.
2 See Claudio Marra L'immagine infedele: la falsa rivoluzione della fotografia digitale, ed. Mondadori, Milano 2006.
3 See Fred Ritchin After Photography, 2009.