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Reading about the history of art, it's clear that many painters achieved fame simply by providing more 'realistic' representations of 'real life' than their predecessors. This went on until the invention of photography, which made 'complete realism' available to anyone without the hard work.
Hockney doesn't accept that photography has replaced painting. He says: "I became aware that the camera did not see space. It saw surfaces. The camera sees geometrically - we must see psychologically...". The Sunday Telegraph article about him says: '[photography]... places the viewer at one remove - as if looking at a stage - dulls colours and stops time. A human being, according to Hockney, sees things one by one, not all at once in the click of a shutter. And, since people have different feelings and memories, the way they experience what they see is individual too. He also thinks photography standardises colour: "With a photograph you can't see the greens you can see with your eye. There is an infinity out there", he says. Altogether the effect of the lens on human sensibility... has been bad: "I think it's done us damage. It's made us all see in a rather boring, similar way. I think the world's a lot more exciting than that. The optical projection of nature pushes you away from things..."
I have to say I have some sympathy for this view. I visited the Pala D'Oro recently, and was amused to see two Japanese women photographing each other in front of it. Had they been asked what they saw of life around them, their answer would have been somewhat limited. Their photogrpahs, too, would not have done justice to the Pal d'Oro.
On the other hand, photography, like other forms of simulation, makes 'reality' much more available to us all. Better to see a 'flat, boring, similar' version of (say) Niagara Falls, than not to know what it looks like. If you can record the fact that you stood in front of a masterpiece of Western art, without the hard work of reproducing it by hand, well, why not?
It really comes down to a question of either modelling or delivery. Can your painted simulation of a scene model something beyond what you are seeing with your eyes? Or can your paint deliver colours that photographic printing can't? And what do you want out of the artefact, the simulation, in the end? Do you want a reminder, or a spiritual experience?
I suppose it's fair to say that photography has replaced painting for those who just want a record of an event or a scene. Pictures by Canaletto, say. And much great art was just that - particularly once the patrons started to appear in the pictures themselves. But alongside Giotto's little picture of the Scrovegni brothers handing over their chapel are all the others.
Another thought is that many paintings were of scenes that no-one living had ever seen. The story of Christ, for example: all entirely imagined. (I don't mean imaginary - just that no-one who painted it actually knew what it had looked like.) Sometimes because no-one left alive was there, sometimes because no-one could be there - eg the Last Judgement, or various myths and legends.