'Fine Art' and 'just another pitcher'...

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by WarEaglemtn, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    Was at a gallery opening and the photographer was asked by someone why his photos were so expensive. (minimum was $800) He put up a real attitude and replied 'these are Fine Art photographs'.(while dripping with superiority and disdain for the lady who asked the question... all the while dressed in black and holding a wine glass)
    Then she asked him what made them 'fine art' and not 'just another pitcher'?(Utahns have a tough time pronouncing picture)

    He was stumped without an answer and just glared at her and walked away.

    She left without buying anything. (and I know she had the funds as she collects art of various types, including photography)

    The photographer was asked the same thing a few other times and failed to answer or explain to each time, losing sales as well as respect from a number who were at the opening.

    I know he visits this site... so, what is the difference. Maybe it will help him next time so he can give a simple explanation and not have to do the 'offended artist' act.
     
  2. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    LOL....thanks Dan, I was sorely missing a laugh. Thank God I have always strive to make just pretty pitchers... :D
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    I'll drink to that! Another pitcher for everyone. Grin.
     
  4. jhavard

    jhavard Member

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    A fine art print expresses something, whereas just another picture does nothing more than capture the moment.
     
  5. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Thar aint no way y'all-er-gonna git yer lasso arownd this-un! One folks "pitcher" is'n'other folks "fyne-art photee-oh-graph".

    That thar photee-oh-grapher shudda known if'n he's a gonna spew his eemoshonal guts against the gallery wall, he better be comfterble in the saddle when the kwestyuns come. Not that he'd havta explain'em, butt maybee make the asker keep askin kwestyuns until the asker stumbles over the asner themselves.

    Moo-ray
     
  6. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    I'm sure I am behind the times but I consider a fine art print one that expresses something to the viewer and also is printed on fiber based fine art paper, limited in printing. I of course work in black and white so I am quite prejudiced. I don't know about color pieces but surely an ink jet print is not fine art. At least to me, but then who else cares what I think but me? It is awfully nice to have a place to say what I think though.
     
  7. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    'zactly.

    and so eloquently expressed, too.
     
  8. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Fine art to me is imagery with a voice -- a voice that communicates the opinion expressed by the artist -- displayed in a way that shows respect to the image and to a standard of excellence.
     
  9. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    The Lady had a point...

    The photographer on the other could have tried to explain why the photograph was the way it was, what his thoughts were, what went into making the exposure and how the actual print was made... And then added that only time will tell if a photograph, or a painting, or a sculpture is a true work of art.

    By "lumping" photography with painting and other established art forms (in the lady's mind set) he might have been able to make her understand and perhaps have her purchase a print...
    then again may be not???

    :smile:

    -----------------------------------------


    Photography is an important art form
    ...as long as there are artists who use photography to express themselves...


    PV-2006
     
  10. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    S'no problum...just try'in ta con-trib-yoot t'the overall unmudificayshyun of y'all fallow APE-BUGGERERS...um...APE-UGGERS owt thar :wink:

    moo-ray
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Well, I think that so long as we do derivative work then our work is simply another picture.

    When be learn how to see in ways that are uniquely ours (and I don't mean another tree or rock or waterfall even if it is a different rock, tree or waterfall) then perhaps we may produce something that may possibly aspire to be art.
     
  12. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    But, as Szarkowski suggests out in "Atget Pointing", the work isn't derivative if you look upon the world in a unique way, even if your chosen subject matter is considered...tired.

    http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Museum/7101/szark1.html

    Murray
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Murray, I think that I went on to express that...perhaps not as well as I might have.

    In order to see things in unique ways, I don't think that it means photographing and presenting the same thing from the same viewpoint. Usually this unique viewpoint does not involve simply positioning the camera in a slightly different spot, using a different focal length lens, or photographing at a different time of day.

    A case in point would be a typical derivative subject matter of a stream, rocks, and trees. No matter how one tries to rearrange these in relation to each other they still remain what they are...trees, rocks, and streams.

    Normally seeing things in unique ways involves exploring aspects of these known and readily identifiable objects. What I mean by "aspects of" are lines, patterns, shapes and textures. Most photographers, in my observation, are caught up in seeing things like everyone else does. That is why the Park Service has come almost to the point of erecting signs that direct one to the tripod holes where some images have been made.

    I think that we, as photographers, have been afforded both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that we see things pretty much as everyone else does. The blessing is that we have the opportunity to discover, for ourselves by discovering new ways of seeing, more about the readily known objects that I lump into a generic classification of "things".

    It has been my observation of my work and the work of those that I have encountered that very few aspire to this uniqueness.
     
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  15. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    I do like Per's approach. Smart to avoid discussing the meaning or substance (that may be there). To me when an artist explains their 'art' they fail, instantly. Better to talk about the peripheral stuff. The nuts and bolts of how/where/when or perhaps what they were thinking at the time.

    Robert Adams has said [paraphrased] "For photographers; words are proof that the vision they had is not fully there in the picture". As for that Szarkowski fella, sheesh what does he know? :tongue:

    But for goodness sake say something. Or you may become the unfortunate subject of a discussion like this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2006
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    John,

    Perhaps you might look to that portion of my work that is depicted in forms and function...or perhaps you might share some of your work with us.

    By the way the work that you addressed is over twenty years old. While the images in the Forms and Function portfolio is recent.
     
  17. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Already did - and?

    "perhaps you might share some of your work with us" ... I do, occasionally. I think there are a couple still in my gallery if you want to. They were taken within the last 1 year (important, apparently).

    Point is - as WarEagle put it - if you put yourself out there as an arteeest and you're asked directly "what makes your images art?" and you can't answer then it suddenly becomes difficult to be taken seriously as said arteeest.
     
  18. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Hi Donald,

    This is why I dredged up the Szarkowski piece - because when a photographer of unique perception recognizes a significant coelescence of compositional elements be they stream, rocks, trees, or hermaphrodite lacrosse players, then the subject matter becomes secondary to the strength of the artists vision. Simply put, if not for the photographer pointing it out...nobody would have noticed.

    Why do we still bother composing music, or writing poetry? Why do novelists keep trotting out the old typical derivative subject matters of love, relationships, and conflict - the literary equivilants of streams, rocks and trees? Because, of all the untold billions of people who have walked the Earth, each persons voice is unique.

    The subject matter isn't the limiting factor, just the depth of the photographers way of seeing and the aquired skills to materialize them...and the perception of the viewer.

    Murray
     
  19. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Donald...in my haste to respond I missed that significant statement. I'm looking forward to watching the manifistation of your words into photographs.

    Murray (continually aspiring to truth of vision)
     
  20. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Murray,

    If you are seriously interested in physical evidence of this and if you wish you might want to look at the images that I have posted in the portfolio that I suggested to John. These images with one exception are visible proof of what I am speaking of.

    These are for the most part a departure from depicting readily identifiable known objects as I would have done at one time. This departure is toward the depiction of lines and forms as a separate and distinct aspect. In doing this the presentation is not of something that I or most people would normally see when we would view these objects.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2006
  21. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    I don’t know if this is relevant and muddies the water of the discussion but I was reading Ansel Adams (book 3 the Print) and he does discuss in chapter 5 ‘The fine print: Control of Values’ and opens with. ‘The differences between the various stages of work prints leading to the fine print are often quite subtle, and require meticulous craftsmanship. Even the best equipment and competent procedure, the control of print quality is sometimes very difficult. I know from experience that there are no shortcuts to excellence. Inadequate attention to procedure or to archival considerations will yield less-than-optimum results. However, the technical issues of printing must not be allowed to overwhelm the aesthetic purposes; the final statement should be logical and complete, and transcends the mechanics employed.’

    He then goes onto describe what the differences between a work print and a fine print are and also describes a number of procedures for subtle print control. In concluding he states that

    ‘the qualities that make one print “just right” and another only “almost right” are intangible, and impossible to express in words. Once you know what truly fine prints look, trust your initiative reactions to your own prints’

    ‘In evaluating the print some of the qualities to look for include:
    -Are the high values distinct and “open”, so they convey a sense of substance and texture without appearing drab or flat?
    - Are the shadow values luminous and not overly heavy?
    -Is the texture and substance in the dry print in all areas where you sought to reveal it
    Does the print overall convey an ‘impression of light’

    Although this is not of full explanation of what a fine art photograph should look or be like, I think Ansel Adams in this chapter of his book does go in some way to describe the subtle differences of your average run of the mill print to an excellent fine art photographic print.

    I personally have seen a fair number of what I believe to be excellent fine photographic art prints from masters of photography such as Irving Penn, Edward Weston, Kenro Izu etc.. The differences between good and excellent fine art prints are subtle but they are there to see the trained and knowledgeable eye and are very rewarding.

    I don’t know how good this artists prints were priced at $800 that the intial post on this thread mentions, but if they conform to what Ansel Adams describes as ‘just right’ as opposed to ‘almost right’ he should have a few valid responses to those people that think his work is not ‘Fine Art’

    Anyway just my 2c
     
  22. jerry lebens

    jerry lebens Member

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    I'd be interested to know why some prints were "minimum $800" - implying there were other prints at higher prices...

    Were the more expensive ones "Even Finer Art"?

    Are the cheaper ones merely "A Bit Less Fine" developed his second best developing dish?
     
  23. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Assuming this is a genuine question, and not just another "Artists are shysters and should be horsewhipped" posting:
    Price will depend primarily on size, on whether pictures are framed and/or matted, and on whether the picture in question is an early or late example within a stepped edition (in which the price rises after a certain number of copies of a picture have been sold).

    Back at the original incident:
    It is surprising that someone who is allegedly a regular art buyer (including photography) should ask such a philistine and stupid question (does she also ask the same question of painters and sculptors?), not so surprising that an artist should decline to waste his time at a private view talking to an apparent moron. If the good lady knows anything at all about buying art directly from artists at the lower end of the market, she should understand the principle of buying what you like and are attracted to, with considerations of investment potential and monetary gain distinctly secondary.

    Regards,

    David
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Myself and an artist friend at work quite like reading the 'Artist's Intention' statements put out with advertisements for exhibitions and on their websites. We have found that the pretentiousness of the statement is inversely proportional to the quality of their work (only our opinion, obviously).

    I agree with one of the statements made above that as soon as you make a statement to try to justify your work, you have failed. It should stand up on its own merits.

    We are of the view that if we were to have exhibitions (soon I hope), our statement would be a simple 'Here are some pictures, I hope you like them'.

    Steve.
     
  25. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Interesting how everything must have a purpose. "I took my camera out and while walking in the garden with my children I suddenly took a picture of them" "I call it "A Walk to Paradise Garden"". What the hell is that? He just took a photo and it's Art? Shouldn't it be in a family photo album? I have some that look like that in mine and they aren't Art or are they?
     
  26. Poco

    Poco Member

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    A long time ago I lived a year in NYC as a starving student type. I was truly poor and made some much needed extra cash by way of a bit of street performance which I promise is somewhat related to this thread's question:

    I posted myself in Washington Square and approached total strangers crossing the park and said, "I bet you one dollar I can make you smile. I won't tell you a joke, I won't make a face -- in fact, I won't do anything. You're going to make yourself smile and do all the work for me ...what do you say?"

    Most people took the bet and once they did I gently tugged them to the center of one of the four, bench-ringed large circles of the park and told them to say any sentence they pleased. Usually, they'd say, "Anything?" ...and immediately look around and break into a huge grin. They hadn't known it, but I'd dragged them to the center of an echo chamber formed by four thin lampposts that ringed each of those circles in the park. There was a about a one foot square sweet spot -- stand outside of it and the sounds of the city were normal and your own conversation muffled by them. But hit that spot and your own voice reverberated in your head, drowning out everything else.

    The point is I'd found something unexpected that most people were delighted by and that probably became the most memorable part of their day. And in some way a "fine art" photo does the same thing, I think. It tugs the stranger by the sleeve and says, "wait, come here and look at this." It brings them to the sweet spot where even the mundane, through examination of visual relationships, textures, tonalities, etc... suddenly come together to reverberate within us. That's pretty vague, I admit, but I think it's unfair to expect any artist to be more articulate about his work than that. In your photographer's position, WarEagle, I'd put together some kind of story like the above to answer with and leave it go at that.