Photography Pulitzer Prize to Sergey Ponomarev


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We just heard the news that photographer Sergey Ponomarev has won the Pulitzer Prize for his photographs of the migrant exodus to Europe. We’re big fans of Ponomarev’s photography, as he has an amazing knack for being in the right place at the right time and an eye for capturing incredible moments. But as we’ve noted in the past, he also has a knack – intentional or not – of capturing images that bring to mind art history. Here’s where a Ponomarev photograph brought to mind the paintings of Eric Fischl, and here’s a pair where he visually quotes Mondrian and Rodin.

Well, he’s done it again … when looking at the photographs that won him (and other photographers Tyler Hicks, Mauricio Lima, and Daniel Etter) the Pulitzer Prize, we noticed this image below of migrants arriving by a Turkish boat near the village of Skala, on the Greek island of Lesbos. Right away it brought to mind Théodore Géricault’s “Raft of the Medusa” (scroll down below Ponomarev’s image to see Géricault’s painting). But before you say “oh, it’s just two images of people on a boat,” scroll down for our comparison point.

comparing Sergey Ponomarev to Theodore Gericault

As you can see, we have two sea vessels, a boat and a raft, filled to capacity with people who are in a desperate situation. That’s an easy comparison between Ponomarev’s image and Géricault’s painting. But look at the key figures below – we have a shirtless male figure holding up a fabric item, with a person behind each one reaching out with a hand in the direction of the male figure. I know there’s no way Ponomarev could have thought of this similarity in the brief moment in which he captured this image, but it’s a pretty interesting coincidence of imagery.

Raft of the Medusa compared to news photograph of migrants landing via boat in Greece

At any rate, we’re big fans of Sergey Ponomarev’s photography, and you can see more on his Instagram feed here.

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