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Artur Zeidler
08-13-2006, 06:01 PM
Having been quite pleasantly surprised by some of the photographs in this "discuss a" sub-forum, I wanted to add one of my own:

http://www.mocp.org/exhibitions/uploads/friedlander_texas.jpg

this is one from Lee Friedlanders book and project Sticks & Stones: Architectural America, which is one of my favourite books of his.

For me Friedlander is like a free-form jazz player of photography, improvising, breaking the rules, taking off in a new and unexpected direction, but always drawing you along with him and always undisputedly a master of his instrument

There were some other pictures from the same project I had difficulty chosing from. I may post them a little later

Artur Zeidler
08-13-2006, 06:09 PM
here are some of the others I had trouble deciding between (so maybe that's four to discuss?)

http://www.andrewsmithgallery.com/exhibitions/leefriedlander/sticksandstones/images/full_size/LF-1174.jpg

http://www.andrewsmithgallery.com/exhibitions/leefriedlander/sticksandstones/images/full_size/LF-1204.jpg

http://www.blindspot.com/issue20/images/friedlander.jpg

lee
08-13-2006, 06:15 PM
I think the bottom two images are really the same. the bottom one just has more info in it.

lee\c

blansky
08-13-2006, 06:18 PM
The photographs in themselves aren't overly interesting to me but as a body of work that you've shown he is a master of creating tension.


Michael

jovo
08-13-2006, 06:58 PM
Two are rather static, and I have no idea what they are about. But the OP and the third post have pulse. I'm no fan of Friedlander in general, but sometimes there's a goodie!

Claire Senft
08-13-2006, 07:20 PM
I dislike all 4 photos.

magic823
08-13-2006, 07:29 PM
The first one kinda interesting, but the rest are meh. The third one is too flat and they all but the first one I don't think are composed well. (To me they look like what I would expect from a basic photography class.)

Steve

Sparky
08-13-2006, 07:49 PM
Can we raise the bar on the level of critique in here - ? Or is this sort of typical? (no offense intended - but I'm not sure how you can really learn anything with 'i like' and 'i don't like'). Perhaps a statement BY Friedlander ABOUT his work might be somewhat in order - so that we can approach the work in a way that doesn't come from our own egos...? Does that sound reasonable? Or should I just piss off?

(just trying to make things a bit more interesting here!)

Gay Larson
08-13-2006, 07:56 PM
I don't really care what he has to say about his work. They don't have any appeal for me. They don't speak to me at all. I can see this kind of photograph in albums across america.

Sparky
08-13-2006, 08:19 PM
With all due respect, Gay. I doubt you'd see photos like this in albums. But I can understand how they might look that way on the very surface.

In my experience - it can be difficult, if not impossible, to know how to respond to a photograph without understanding the intent of the artist. This might not be true with many 'modernist' works which are more about simple composition, design and surface characteristics.

David Brown
08-13-2006, 08:46 PM
In my experience - it can be difficult, if not impossible, to know how to respond to a photograph without understanding the intent of the artist.

In my experience, it is not that difficult, and entirely possible to know how to respond to a photograph without understanding the intent of the artist.

That being said, I saw Friedlander's show last year in Chicago and liked it. However, I reserve the right to not like something without being told I don't understand it. For one thing, it's an assumption that may not be true. Perhaps one does know the artist's intent, and still doesn't like it.

With all due respect ...

tim atherton
08-13-2006, 08:48 PM
If you need some further contexts and references:

http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/5aa/5aa260a.htm

http://www.slate.com/id/2122535/

http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/arts/art/reviews/11997/

http://www.thebrooklynrail.org/arts/july05/friedlander.html

Sparky
08-13-2006, 08:52 PM
So - for example - if we speak of a Friedlander photo of this era - I think that the following aspects are noteworthy;

1. The tension between the deliberately 'casual' aspects of his composition with the FORCING of a casual aesthetic. I'm not sure (I doubt) this is the same sort of tension that Blansky refers to. Regardless, I think it's a safe bet to say that he's EXTREMELY concerned with composition.

2. The way that, in confronting the Banal (note capital B), there are two things going on. One is that the mind tends to treat the image more plastically - that is to say, we pay more attention to composition and other surface characteristics. The second thing that happens is we enter into a social critique of america, in terms of the alienating/alienated world that Friedlander represents.

3. It is important to consider in his use of depth-of-field a certain 'suspension of disbelief'. That is to say, the great depth of field combines with the 'casual' framing and allows one to actually inhabit the scene portrayed in a way that shallow depth of field would force us to consider the work as a graphic entity.

4. I find the way that Friedlander populates his scenes interesting. He's not at all afraid of portraying people - but I don't think it's ABOUT the people. The empty scenes seem especially conspicuously absent - and the people who DO appear in his photos don't have the same sort of presence/personality they might in a Winogrand photo, say.

Any responses to this?

Sparky
08-13-2006, 08:58 PM
That being said, I saw Friedlander's show last year in Chicago and liked it. However, I reserve the right to not like something without being told I don't understand it. For one thing, it's an assumption that may not be true. Perhaps one does know the artist's intent, and still doesn't like it.

With all due respect ...

And that would be FINE - as long as you acknowledge that's pretty much defining willful ignorance. There are LOTS of times I'd resolved to not like a particular image or artist... and then I'd found out something about the image or body of work in question which made it seem FAR more interesting. Which gave it a depth I hadn't even consdidered. Take Jeff Wall's work maybe. Or Andre Serrano. The truth was - I was simply looking at the work through a certain filter that made things unchallenging and easy for me (an example: "does this look like an ansel adams photo?" if yes, then I like it - if no, then I don't). But the one thing I think that's VERY important in learning to be a photographer, an artist, a visual person, what-have-you... is to learn FIRST to step outside of your little box, your preconceived notions. I don't think it's possible to pass judgement on ANYTHING until you understand it. "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes", right?

blansky
08-13-2006, 09:18 PM
But we aren't judging the man. Only the work.

I'm not sure that any good work of art needs context to be "legitimate". I'm kind of torn on that issue.

If the picture can't stand on its own, should then a context or explanation be something that elevates it to something else.

Someone is these last few days made the comment about Migrant Mother that without the context this would just be another photo. But is not the desperation, and beaten down expression on her face, plainly there, even without the background knowledge?

I think it is. And this elevates it above a picture that needs explanation.


Michael

Sparky
08-13-2006, 09:20 PM
Sure - I agree fully. BUT! The knowing the context and something about the Dust Bowl and the FSA and Lange (that WAS Lange, right? Or am I spacing out?) sure adds another whole dimension to the photo, don't you think?

That IS a good point though, B. I think that there is a tacit assumption of the author in every judgement of a photograph. That is to say, if someone sees what they consider a schlocky photo by Person X, then they'll try to generalize about Person X. If they see eight bad and one good, then they'll have a slightly different assumption. But that's just human nature, right? Generalization is a compression scheme we use to store information. Compression tends to be more efficient than accurate.

blansky
08-13-2006, 09:23 PM
Sure - I agree fully. BUT! The knowing the context and something about the Dust Bowl and the FSA and Lange (that WAS Lange, right? Or am I spacing out?) sure adds another whole dimension to the photo, don't you think?

I think it might add an "interest" but I think the picture needs to stand alone first.

Actually the more I think of it, I DON'T think it needs the Dustbowl context. It has power and grace on its own.

If it needs the context to "exist" then I think it has failed to some extent.


Michael

Gay Larson
08-13-2006, 09:29 PM
But we aren't judging the man. Only the work.

I'm not sure that any good work of art needs context to be "legitimate". I'm kind of torn on that issue.

If the picture can't stand on its own, should then a context or explanation be something that elevates it to something else.

Someone is these last few days made the comment about Migrant Mother that without the context this would just be another photo. But is not the desperation, and beaten down expression on her face, plainly there, even without the background knowledge?

I think it is. And this elevates it above a picture that needs explanation.

Thank you, Michael (I never thought I'd say that) but you have said exactly what I was about to say. My ignorance not withstanding, I believe a piece of art should stand on it's own without expaination or it's only what the artist wants you to see. So I stand by my statement that this does not appeal to me at all. You can add all the flowery artists statements and expainations all you want and it won't change my mind.
Michael

Michael[/QUOTE]

Sparky
08-13-2006, 09:29 PM
If it needs the context to "exist" then I think it has failed to some extent.


I think there IS some truth to this statement - but I also think that people tend not to understand the way in which they are constantly being given context for things. Perhaps you're just starting to get interested in photography - and you hear about this cat "ansel adams" and "how great he is"... "a true master". Well, I think you're probably going to bring a whole different set of assumptions to looking at an adams photo with this in mind rather than not. Not only that - but I think that people probably have a whole lot more reverence and reserving of opinion towards images that are constantly foisted on us by what we perceive to be 'authority' than not. There are millions of ways in which we're constantly being 'trained', not just towards visual images, but towards EVERYTHING in our lives. I think that starting to be aware of this fact will make you a far better photographer, among other things.

Gay Larson
08-13-2006, 09:31 PM
I don't know why I'm having trouble replying but what I wrote is in the box that should only contain what Blansky wrote. I was replying to his post. This has never happened before??? I had to write it three times before it even posted at all?