All About Triptych Photography

Triptych photography can provide some of the most striking displays and installations, whether in a museum or a home. These tri-sectioned photographs appear together to form a larger image, just as with the triptych paneled artwork dating back to the Middle Ages.

In photography, the panels are often specifically placed to paint a larger picture. The sequencing of the panels, how they are place or even angled can impact the viewer’s perception. While most are positioned in close proximity to one another, some displays use distance between the panels to tell a larger story from afar.
Pieter Coecke van Aelst - Triptych
Corporations, institutions and large sporting venues have used such photography, often in wide-open lobby spaces and usually with a subject matter closely associated with the location.

The traditional triptych portraits from early Christian artists would inspire other art forms, mainly sculpting. Many of the world grouped sculptures arose from this inspiration. Likewise, photographers saw an opportunity to share larger and larger views.
Boathouse on the River
In many cases, a triptych installation provides a practical advantage as much as an artistic one. They often need to be sectioned in order to be safely and easily transported from studio to exhibition space, simply because of their overwhelming size.

Often these installations are seen at awards shows such as the Academy Awards or The Emmys, with panels used to capture an artist’s body of work, or to present shared films in genre. These panels, unlike in traditional installations, are often designed to move on and offstage throughout the show, even replaceable with new photo inserts, sometimes two stories high.

Not all triptych photography involves larger than life, wallsize prints. Some displays are far more intimate, some might say even more compelling.

The technique has been used to reflect the changing seasons of weather, the evolution of man, and deforestation of green lands. It’s frequently been effectively used to show the effects of man on his climate and surroundings.

Such socially-conscious uses of triptych photography are often the displays that elevate the artform beyond mere shock and awe, with the impact being less the size of the view and more the actual subject matter.
The Wave Triptych
As with standard art, the triptych approach can add greater value to a pricetag, well beyond that of a single viewpoint piece. In fact, in November, 2013, a traditional triptych installation set the all-time record for highest sale price at an auction. Seven buyers pooled their money at Christie’s Auction House in New York for a total of $142-million. The 1969 piece by Francis Bacon was titled “Three Studies of Lucien Freud”. The buyers were not identified.

Likewise, triptych photography displays can wildly outprice their traditional photo cousins, often in tandem with the actual physical size of piece.

A photographer, however, might be quick to remind that such a endeavor can be a sizable task, and therefor warrants a larger payday. Aside from requiring photo printing that can extend to a few dozen feet, there’s an additional concern these displays present for the actual photography.

When images are blown up to such a scale before the proportional human eye, what’s small can become considerably magnified. This might mean that imperfections in the shot, framing or even lighting can become far more apparent when viewed in such a manner. Even the subject matter might become distorted just through such tight focus.

Yet when it works, it can do so in amazingly effective ways. Much of this can be enhanced with proper placement, matching the artwork to an appropriately suited backdrop that both accents and honors the feel of the piece.

All About Triptych Photography

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