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Ian David
06-18-2009, 08:02 PM
I disagree.
First, if we could not talk about subjective concepts, we would for ever be silent.

Second, trying to define (not the first thing you want to do) a slippery concept, talking about a slippery concept, rather than not doing so because it is a slippery concept, is the only way to deal with it.

The fact that it is there in a perhaps yet 'undefined form', means there is something there, even if we would choose to further ignore it.
It doesn't go away.

So the choice is to deal with it, or live in perpetual denial of something you can't help but acknowledge is there to stay (i.e. go, or already be, bonkers ;)).

It would be a terrible shame if only philosophers and other academics and art critics would keep themselves busy with art.
And it of course is not so.

It is also a terrible shame that indeed so much gibberish is talked about art (and many other things). But that can only happen because people allow that to go unchecked.

And if you can tell that it gibberish, you already have joined the philosophers etc.
So join in fully. If you can tell that it is gibberish, you can also tell why, and what there is to say that is not gibberish. Don't cop out because the concept is slippery. Get a grip!

I am happy to talk about subjective concepts, but on the condition that the concepts are recognised as such. This generally means that statements about, for example, what fine art means are generally prefaced with something like "In my view..." or "I think..."

The content of the above posts demonstrates that the label "fine art" is so subjective that everybody has their own definition of it. Your definition - "fine art = pretentious craft" - is your subjective view. That is clearly not how the galleries use the term. It is not how art writers generally use the term either. It is your subjective view. Which is fine. But I think you should just say so.

And I certainly agree that it is good for everybody to think and talk about art. But, in my experience, the most worthwhile discussions about art generally relate to specific pieces or bodies of work and involve an honest subjective discussion of what the work says/means/represents/etc to those discussing it, how effective it is, whether they like it, etc, and perhaps what the artist intended if that can be known.

2F/2F
06-18-2009, 08:02 PM
Are the shots on the covers of AA books photographs? I don't think so. For me a photograph is a print, made by the photographer. Anything else is an image, including a reproduction of an AA print. Having seen original prints I have great difficulty in calling a copy a photograph as if it were made by a photographer. Of course that's my personal take, and it is pretty old school. You can find people that believe a cell phone image is a photograph, and I can't say that they are wrong, just that I disagree, if that makes any sense.

I think that all images created with photography, no matter how used, start life as photographs. Technically, the pix in a book are lithographic prints, not photographs. Still, most, myself included use the term "photograph" as a way to refer to the composition that is reproduced in the book (even if it is not technically a photographic print), and not to technically refer to the exact print in the book. In common use, the term has a broader use than simply "a picture made by exposing a light-sensitive surface", and I do not have a big problem with this, though I prefer the term "picture". If we are being more specific as to the exact prints in the exact book, we say reproductions or litho prints, etc. Either way, no matter the type of print, photographic or litho, the status as fine art remains for the pix in the book, IMO. They are there to be appreciated as pictures in and of themselves, not to sell a product or promote a cause.

This is exactly why I prefer to use the term "pictures" :D (...and why I called them "shots" in my post).

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 02:18 AM
I am happy to talk about subjective concepts, but on the condition that the concepts are recognised as such. This generally means that statements about, for example, what fine art means are generally prefaced with something like "In my view..." or "I think..."

Not necessary.

All concepts are subjective. We are always expressing our view on things, what things are in our view.
This explicit "in my view" etc. is only needed if you are afraid that your view might offend someone you don't want to offend. It is a "please don't chop my head off if you don't like what you hear" plea.

And don't fall in the trap of thinking that subjective = without substance, unreal, freely interchangeable.
It's not.
It's about something. Something we all know. Something we share.


The content of the above posts demonstrates that the label "fine art" is so subjective that everybody has their own definition of it. Your definition - "fine art = pretentious craft" - is your subjective view. That is clearly not how the galleries use the term. It is not how art writers generally use the term either. It is your subjective view. Which is fine. But I think you should just say so.

So there is something to talk about!

So let's talk!


And I certainly agree that it is good for everybody to think and talk about art. But, in my experience, the most worthwhile discussions about art generally relate to specific pieces or bodies of work and involve an honest subjective discussion of what the work says/means/represents/etc to those discussing it, how effective it is, whether they like it, etc, and perhaps what the artist intended if that can be known.

"In my view" ;) that is a cop out.
Let's talk about something presumed to be safe, instead of that "slippery concept" the thread is about.
Let's not. Let's not run away because it is difficult. Let's not throw the interesting topic out.

And an unsuccesfull cop out too: do you think that things would be different if we talk about a specific pice or body of work?
The concepts are all the same. Slippery then if they are now.

jnanian
06-19-2009, 06:12 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_art_photography:munch:

Ian David
06-19-2009, 07:09 AM
And an unsuccesfull cop out too: do you think that things would be different if we talk about a specific pice or body of work?
The concepts are all the same. Slippery then if they are now.

Not so. It is possible to talk in relatively concrete terms about our reactions to a specific piece or body of work, whether we like it, etc, without ever once trying to define what "fine art" means or whether the work comes within that description.

Re the OP's question, I do not think that it is possible to give any useful definition of what constitutes fine art. Almost everyone defines it differently - I can call anything I want "fine art". You may disagree with my choice, but so what? Who are the art terminology police?

Ian David
06-19-2009, 07:11 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_art_photography

Thanks John - that pretty much sums it up...

jnanian
06-19-2009, 07:15 AM
Thanks John - that pretty much sums it up...

the pleasure is all mine!

Paul Jenkin
06-19-2009, 07:29 AM
Interesting thread......

I was having a cyber-wander throught some photographic gallery websites on the net the other evening (for a bit of inspiration) and a couple of things struck me:

1) A huge percentage of what I saw was described (by the photographer) as "Fine Art"
2) There was no attempt to explain why the photos were "Fine Art" or how they achieved that high-status sounding designation when compared with similar work by other photographers which were just labeled as "landscape". "portrait", "still life" or other more understandable descriptions....

The overriding impression I got was that the term "Fine Art" is much over-used (according to Google, there are 66.6 million sites with that tag....!!) and the only common characteristics seemed to me to be:

(a) poorly lit
(b) very low - or very high - contrast
(c) "soft" focus and/or heavily filtered
(d) often significant motion blur
(e) mundane subject matter masquerading as something meaningful - a stone on a beach = "lonely"
(f) grainy and/or blotchy
(g) heavily vignetted
(h) toned in any of several icky ways
(i) bloody expensive if you want to buy a print

I have deliberately exaggerated to highlight the issues

Frankly, although some of the pictures were pleasant enough, the photographer seemed to want to justify the price by virtue of them looking like they were taken a hundred and fifty years ago and/or resembled a painting.

In my opinion, if "fine art" exists at all, it is what the viewer says it is - and not what the photographer describes it as.

JBrunner
06-19-2009, 07:44 AM
I think that all images created with photography, no matter how used, start life as photographs. Technically, the pix in a book are lithographic prints, not photographs. Still, most, myself included use the term "photograph" as a way to refer to the composition that is reproduced in the book (even if it is not technically a photographic print), and not to technically refer to the exact print in the book. In common use, the term has a broader use than simply "a picture made by exposing a light-sensitive surface", and I do not have a big problem with this, though I prefer the term "picture". If we are being more specific as to the exact prints in the exact book, we say reproductions or litho prints, etc. Either way, no matter the type of print, photographic or litho, the status as fine art remains for the pix in the book, IMO. They are there to be appreciated as pictures in and of themselves, not to sell a product or promote a cause.

This is exactly why I prefer to use the term "pictures" :D (...and why I called them "shots" in my post).

Agreed. So then does a reproduction rise to fine art because an essentially similar concept is presented, even though it may be for educational or illustrative purposes? Does a coffee table book (images for it's own sake) contain fine art, whilst "The Negative" (images for education or illustration that were originally intended as art, but serve a different purpose in the book) does not?

Thomas Bertilsson
06-19-2009, 08:32 AM
To me art is about practicing. There is, to me, craftsmanship involved. Any photographer that purposely go out of their way to create, convey, or speak something; who works hard in a darkroom to present a print that wholly is in unison with their vision and appreciation of the subject matter is an artist in my opinion. It's about the practice, about the purpose. Anybody can make a pretty picture. That's not art. The effort is. The effort to stand in front of your materials and try to make the best possible print you can. Whether it's to anybody else' liking or not is indifferent. That's opinion and a wholly subjective matter.

And I think I agree with Jason that reproductions don't count, no matter how good they are. Seriously, the hard work of the artist is diluted that way. Sure, it helps more people appreciate it, but it is only reproduction of the original art work. A copy.

Sirius Glass
06-19-2009, 09:10 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_art_photography:munch:

That covers a lot of bases or was it basises [basisi, basisium ?]

Steve

Ian Leake
06-19-2009, 09:18 AM
If something has an audience who consider it to be art then it's art (at least for that particular audience). If something has an audience who consider it to be 'fine art' then it's fine art (again, for that particular audience). If that something happens to be a photograph then it's a fine art photograph.

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 02:37 PM
Not so. It is possible to talk in relatively concrete terms about our reactions to a specific piece or body of work, whether we like it, etc, without ever once trying to define what "fine art" means or whether the work comes within that description.

Sure.
But you're taking the concepts away. Trying to avoid them.
Yet you said "the most worthwhile discussions about art generally relate to specific pieces or bodies of work"
And that's what i responded too.

And the response stands: the concepts are still the same [etc.].

So yes: So. ;)



Re the OP's question, I do not think that it is possible to give any useful definition of what constitutes fine art. Almost everyone defines it differently - I can call anything I want "fine art". You may disagree with my choice, but so what? Who are the art terminology police?

Yes, but i can call anything anything i like, and defend my choices by saying "so what? who are the [fill in whatever you like] police?"
Where would that leave us?

This section of APUG goes under the heading of "Ethics and philosophy".
It should be a given then that participants do care, and not shrug discussion with "so what"s and "who is going to force me"s.

Nobody is going to twist your arm.
And "so what" is not very on topic, unless you can say also why "so what", and be prepared to discuss that.
;)


Anyway, if we don't try, we cannot, no.
So let's try.

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 02:42 PM
To me art is about practicing. There is, to me, craftsmanship involved. Any photographer that purposely go out of their way to create, convey, or speak something; who works hard in a darkroom to present a print that wholly is in unison with their vision and appreciation of the subject matter is an artist in my opinion. It's about the practice, about the purpose. Anybody can make a pretty picture. That's not art. The effort is. The effort to stand in front of your materials and try to make the best possible print you can. Whether it's to anybody else' liking or not is indifferent. That's opinion and a wholly subjective matter.

That would imply that everything done taking great effort would be art.
Is that so?
Is art only art when it is the result of blood sweat and tears? Do artist have to suffer to be able to produce art?

I don't believe that for one moment.
And i have taken great effort, gone all the way, exhausted myself to arrive at that conclusion. ;)


And I think I agree with Jason that reproductions don't count, no matter how good they are. Seriously, the hard work of the artist is diluted that way. Sure, it helps more people appreciate it, but it is only reproduction of the original art work. A copy.

I think you two are confusing a work of art with art.

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 02:50 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_art_photography:munch:

Yikes!
The Wikimonster takes yet another victim!

A long time ago, people thought that what was true was what someone who knew said was true.
A bit later, someone said it had to be in accordance with the world to be true. Adaequatio ad rem, and all that.
Later still, it was changed to "true is what conforms to observation in most cases". Truth became a statistical matter.
We apparantly left that stage behind us, and moved on from "most cases count" to "most votes count".
A Wiki is an example of that, with an aditional clause, saying that the access to internet and time to spend editing wikis adds to veracity.

A Wikipedia article as a reference?
Fy on you!

Ian David
06-19-2009, 07:30 PM
The content of the Wikipedia link is just another illustration of the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of the term "fine art". It means different things to different people, and is, at least in the context of photography, essentially a marketing term. For that purpose the Wiki reference is perfectly legitimate.

2F/2F
06-19-2009, 07:41 PM
What makes a fine art photograph?

Homo sapiens sapiens.

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 08:03 PM
QG - in your second last post you appear to have ascribed someone else's comment to me...

So i did. My apologies!
It was a copy and paste thing, with the wrong info on the clipboard. Very sloppy of me. Sorry!

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 08:15 PM
The content of the Wikipedia link is just another illustration of the fact that [...]

If you assume that what is in a Wikipedia is something to consider seriously, yes.

But however it may be with Wikis, we do not have a universally accepted definition for most of our concepts. What, say, "freedom" would be differs from (sub-) culture to (sub-) culture, from person to person even.
Doesn't stop anyone talking about it, writing books about it, holding believes about it, longing for it, fighting for it, etc. Nor, of course should it.

And why would it be a problem anyway?

Q.G.
06-19-2009, 08:16 PM
What makes a fine art photograph?

That is a fine question indeed.