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Artur Zeidler
08-13-2006, 09:33 PM
This one tho I haven't ever seen gefore, hard to believe it is really his photo and to speak honest, this one would surely not hang at my wall. That's my personal opinion.

bertram

This is the last photograph in Szarkowski's book on Atget. He essentially sees it as the apogee of all Atget's work. In his "meditation" on this picture he says in part:

"One might think of Atget's work at Sceaux as a recapitulation in miniature of all his work on the culture of old France, a record of the deminishing souvenirs of a foreign country.

Or, one might think of it as a summation and the consumate acheivment of his work as a photographer - a coherent, uncompromising statement of what he had learned of his craft, and how he had amplified and elaborated the sensibility with which he had begun.

Or perhaps we might see the work at Sceaux as a portrait of Atget himself, not excluding petty flaws, but showing most clearly the boldness and certainty of his taste, his method, his vision. (He felt he had a kiship with trees) At sixty eight, at seven o'clock on a gray March morning, he may have felt a special kinship with this particualr pine - a tree scarred by life and slighted by time, eccentric but still vital and compelling - which should be photographed perfectly, in a way that would match, or echo, its own unrepeatable beauty..."

Artur Zeidler
08-13-2006, 09:35 PM
There is also this from the first part of the intro essay in the first of the four volume MoMA set of books on Atget - I feel it describes perfectly Atget's photography

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

Claire Senft
08-13-2006, 09:51 PM
What the hell. Blansky and I are in agreement? Well, I guess its true. I do not like the photo either. Whether it is good enought to be called as mess I leave to you. Perhaps Blansky was being overly kind.

Michel Hardy-Vallée
08-13-2006, 09:53 PM
What I really want to know is why does Berenice Abbot always get so much flak for having illustrated a Physics textbook?

Because she was the first to do so, and because what she came up with pretty much defined the way it was done after her. Soap bubbles? Check. Flash-freezing the fall of a ball? Check. Iron dust over a magnet forming elegant patterns? Check. And so on. The physicians she was working with wanted first to take shots with a Brownie, considering it would be enough... You can find some pretty good info about that episode in "Berenice Abbott, American Photographer," a big folio-size book on her body of work.

You could say that she was to physics photo what Ansel Adams was to landscape. Groundbreaking then, but so much imitated and influent that we don't always react with the same force nowadays. Ironically, she disliked intensly the work of Adams, Stieglitz, Strand, and the like.

blansky
08-13-2006, 09:54 PM
"Little is known about is life, and less about his intentions, except as they can be inferred from his work."

These lines always bothered me. They know nothing about the guy but some "intellectual" conjured up an "inferrence" from his work and creates a biography, or at least a motivation for his work.

I've always found those a little suspect.


Michael

Artur Zeidler
08-13-2006, 10:04 PM
These lines always bothered me. They know nothing about the guy but some "intellectual" conjured up an "inferrence" from his work and creates a biography, or at least a motivation for his work.

I've always found those a little suspect.


Michael

I don't think a knee-jerk phobic response to thinking hard and seriously about something is really a valid ground for dismissing a complete body of detailed work?

donbga
08-13-2006, 10:08 PM
This is the last photograph in Szarkowski's book on Atget. He essentially sees it as the apogee of all Atget's work. In his "meditation" on this picture he says in part:

"One might think of Atget's work at Sceaux as a recapitulation in miniature of all his work on the culture of old France, a record of the deminishing souvenirs of a foreign country.

Or, one might think of it as a summation and the consumate acheivment of his work as a photographer - a coherent, uncompromising statement of what he had learned of his craft, and how he had amplified and elaborated the sensibility with which he had begun.

Or perhaps we might see the work at Sceaux as a portrait of Atget himself, not excluding petty flaws, but showing most clearly the boldness and certainty of his taste, his method, his vision. (He felt he had a kiship with trees) At sixty eight, at seven o'clock on a gray March morning, he may have felt a special kinship with this particualr pine - a tree scarred by life and slighted by time, eccentric but still vital and compelling - which should be photographed perfectly, in a way that would match, or echo, its own unrepeatable beauty..."

I've viewed the book (and wanted to purchase it) but, I disagreed about this one. How do we know what Atget thought when he made this photograph? Szarkowski was right about many things but not this one, IMO.

rfshootist
08-14-2006, 06:07 AM
There is also this from the first part of the intro essay in the first of the four volume MoMA set of books on Atget - I feel it describes perfectly Atget's photography

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

I read it, not good for my blood pressure.
Quote
Little is known about is life, and less about his intentions, except as they can be inferred from his work.
Quote end.

How true ! And this should be obligion enuff for people like Szarkowsky to leave him alone with interpretations and assumptions and insinuations. If there is anything which still can make me really wild then it is the intellectual blahblah of those who make their living with enlightening us about other peoples photos.
Atget was a simple man doing a simple thing, obviously too simple for many to leave him just beeing what he really was.
So my answer to Szarkowsky would be: "Leave me alone , Szarkowsky, I don't need your genius. I got the photos !"

BTW is Szarkowsky a photog himself ?

bertram

Jerevan
08-14-2006, 07:20 AM
BTW is Szarkowsky a photog himself ?

bertram

Yep. Look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Szarkowski but I believe his impact on photography has been more through introduction of other photographers and his curatorship than for his own photography. Correct me if I am mistaken.

Claire Senft
08-14-2006, 08:33 AM
I get very disturbed when reading art criticism with the reviwer going off the deep end talking about what the photographer was thinking etc. It is perfectly fine if they are quoting the photographer whose work is receiving critical inspection. It is also fine to add actual fact to such a review.

Often am I convinced that the reviewer does not have a clue as to about the work receiving criticism. I also dislike the tendency of some reviewers to use esoteric terminology instead of plain language.

I am also not a fan of photographers who use words to add substance to the photograph as if to add by verbage burning, dodging and toning.. They are some photographers who, when writing about their work, seem to be wholly qualified to be writing fiction.

Just the photo without a great deal of pretentious baloney suits me just fine.

The fact that I know nothing about Leonardo's intentions regarding Mona Lisa takes away nothing from my appreciation of it. All though it would be interesting to know for whom he made the painting, whether or not Moma Lisa was a real person and other information.

mark
08-14-2006, 08:47 AM
I don't think a knee-jerk phobic response to thinking hard and seriously about something is really a valid ground for dismissing a complete body of detailed work?

Just what was knee-jerk about Blansky's response. I thought it got right to the heart of the matter.

Lee Shively
08-14-2006, 09:05 AM
Atget's body of work is worthy of praise but many of his individual photographs really are sloppy. The guy was trying to make a living, photographing to sell photographs to artists. He surely had to make a lot of photographs to cover all the bases. The first photograph of the tree would be something of a curiosity and noteworthy if it were only one of a very few surviving Atget's photos. But because it is only one of a huge body of work, I have trouble liking it very much compared to others.

df cardwell
08-14-2006, 09:08 AM
Since this 'discussion' devolved immediately to judgement,
it's pretty hard to discuss the picture.

I've often quoted SK Grimes' maxim in the workshop,
"Sometimes the test tests the tester". If we apply it here,
we learn a great deal about the contributors,
even if little is offered about the photograph.

I like the picture a great deal: I enjoy the chaos of nature,
and prefer to be in the regions where nature and the 'hand of man' coincide. Nature, and time, will soften a gentle hand, and the french countryside is a fine example of this special beauty.

The apparent obstacle of the cross in the upper left corner of the image and the bisection of the image by the tree in the center of the frame violate the tasteful rules of the salon artists who would define what was good, and acceptable. Today, a century and a half after the Salon was destroyed, our neo-aristocracy would make us conform to their 'rules'.

Atget's obstacles DO make me fight a bit to get at the image, but it is no more of a struggle than nature provides on a walk through the woods, or any urban scene where galvanized steel posts and wires, and acres of cement are the moss earth, and branches of the city landscape. It is probably a good thing Atget chose to make us 'discover the subject' as he did. The composition, the excitement of his discovery of the scene, certainly depended upon peeking around the tree, moving from side to side. It may be a well drawn landscape from an Urban eye, used to the distractions of the city. If so, Atget becomes the proto-type of Winogrand, Friedlander, and all those who found beauty within urban clutter and who chose to shoot what was before them, and not go far away to find something 'pretty'.

It's interesting that Atget employed the classical composition device of the 'golden spiral' ( or, it might be a Fibonacci spiral... who knows) to make a mess. Then it is an awfully carefully crafted mess, I have to say.

The effect, for me, is to see the picure as many smaller images within the general frame of the original - suggesting even the 'draughtsman's net' used in the old days to assist the rendition of accurate perspective ( shown below in a woodcut by Durer ).

Anyhow, it's a beautiful picture, which gets better the more time I spend with it. Unlike a 'pictorially perfect picture', I'm drawn into the picture. The multiple images-within-an-image create a visual harmony that rewards time spent with the image.

Beautiful, thanks TIM.

.

tim atherton
08-14-2006, 10:26 AM
I was hoping someone would pick up on that - as you say DF - anything but messy, but rather very precise

Here's a diagram from a text on the subject - match the two...

rfshootist
08-14-2006, 10:27 AM
[QUOTE=df cardwell

the bisection of the image by the tree in the center of the frame violate the tasteful rules of the salon artists who would define what was good, and acceptable. Today, a century and a half after the Salon was destroyed, our neo-aristocracy would make us conform to their 'rules'.

It's interesting that Atget employed the classical composition device of the 'golden spiral' ( or, it might be a Fibonacci spiral... who knows)

.[/QUOTE]

This is a bit confusing: Though you obviously do not see much worth in any rules, no matter if those of the old salon are meant or those of the neo aristocracy, you believe to see Atget using a classical composing device here, the Golden Spiral ? As for me, neither approximately nor correctly I can see the Golden Spiral here, the squares are simply not set right for it.

As for the "rules" , IMHO there are rules and laws. Rules may change with the times, they always relate to a historical esthetics (salon). Laws do not change, they refer to our human perception as the Golden Cut does for example.

Leaving the "rules" aside, related to the "laws" I too find this photo a mess, as it was said. From other reasons too, but those don't play a role here. It's like a needle in my eye.

That is surprising, because Atget was an educated painter who really knew that all and who made photos for painters who made painting from such photos.. Terrible to see that some burrow through his work now and publish whatever they find interesting, and he cannot stop them. As so very often, also in this case I have serious doubts that he would want to see this neg published. Maybe we should burn all doubtful negs before we die ?

Regards
bertram

Artur Zeidler
08-14-2006, 10:36 AM
Just what was knee-jerk about Blansky's response. I thought it got right to the heart of the matter.

No doubt

the keen-jerk sarcastic (nay, snide) anti-intelectualism. That is, the apparently simplistic belief that someone who has studied several hundred probably a couple of thousand or more photographs from a photographers work in close detail, who has read the photogrpahers notes and what correspondences of his remain, who has spoken at length with any of those left who knew the photographer has nothing of value to say about that photographers work.

arigram
08-14-2006, 10:40 AM
I really like the composition and its pretty straightforward to me.

reellis67
08-14-2006, 11:54 AM
I can't get the spiral out of this that others have pointed out. I can however see a grid, with the tree, water line, and branches forming the divisions. Still, when I view this my eye moves to the X and stays there. It doesn't move to the rest of the image and when I look elsewhere, my eye is pulled back to the X or the tree. If I try to look at the tree, my eye flows off the top or bottom rather than around the rest of the photo. This photo evokes no special feelings, is not overly aesthetically pleasing to me, and it doesn't make me wonder.

- Randy

Artur Zeidler
08-14-2006, 12:33 PM
That is surprising, because Atget was an educated painter who really knew that all and who made photos for painters who made painting from such photos.. Terrible to see that some burrow through his work now and publish whatever they find interesting, and he cannot stop them. As so very often, also in this case I have serious doubts that he would want to see this neg published. Maybe we should burn all doubtful negs before we die ?

Regards
bertram

If I am remembering properly, I do not think that is so.

First, there are a number of his pictures that we know Atget took for himself. This was especially so in his later years after the Great War. It is also obvious that he played with (and also deliberately broke) many of the painterly rules of composition in his photographs (which was apparently one of the reasons he was "adopted" in his old age by the Surrealists).

In addition, from his albums, I recall this is certainly not one that he chose to discard, but rather the opposite. It was also one of a series that he sold to the Bibliothèque Nationale

roteague
08-14-2006, 12:40 PM
WOW - I'm bowled over... what a suprise :-)

Sorry that it bothers you so much to have someone disagree with you. At least I am open about it, and not sending anonymous postings to your website, trashing your work.