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Sparky
10-25-2007, 10:12 PM
I agree with Gene, that's why I started this thread, in one of my older magazines, which I can't seem to find right now, Brett Weston was described as an Abstract Expressionist. I have only seen that reference once and was interested in seeing if any other photographers had gained that description.


I can see where the 'abstract' part of it fits in with him... not so much the 'expressionism' part though. I'm thinking DAD was the big influence in HIS life though...

PhotoHistorian
10-26-2007, 01:38 AM
I don't know how much or if at all Brett Weston was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists, but I find in his work many compositional similarities to both Motherwell and Kline. This is one of the main reasons I have always liked his work. I am drawn to Brett's work more than that of his father's, who I also like very much.
Motherwell and Kline were a couple of my artistic heroes when I was young art student many years ago.

gene

Gene,
Brett Weston was not influenced by the abstract expressionists. Brett's photographic career pre-dates the Abstract Expressionist by two decades. Brett started shooting with an abstract eye in Mexico in 1926. The Abstract Expressionists made their splash on the art scene in 1946 and blossumed into the 1950's.

jnanian
10-26-2007, 06:05 AM
photohistorian:

do you have any idea how abstractionists like arshiel gorky and kandinsky and picasso et al.
factor into this whole equation? while i know the abstract expressionists
were in the 40s and 50s ... they seem (to me at least) to be an offshoot
of these cubists, constructionists and abstractionists from around the time you mention
brett weston's abstract work was beginning ...

thanks!

john

Sparky
10-26-2007, 07:43 AM
I know you're not inviting me to respond, John - but it really seems to me that their work is QUITE volumetric - and very representational. They appear to be kind of quasi cubist - if not directly so. Whereas abstract expressionism appeared to be a final leap acknowledging the idea of 'surface'. PURE painting (gestures on canvas) -without any obvious representation going on.

jnanian
10-26-2007, 08:25 AM
I know you're not inviting me to respond, John - but it really seems to me that their work is QUITE volumetric - and very representational. They appear to be kind of quasi cubist - if not directly so. Whereas abstract expressionism appeared to be a final leap acknowledging the idea of 'surface'. PURE painting (gestures on canvas) -without any obvious representation going on.

naaah, i don't mind sparky,

it's all good :)

yeah, quasi-cubist, volumetric ...
kind of like the beginning, and
the full expression was the 40s and 50s ...
(pardon the pun ... ;) )

i always find it interesting to see if/how these folks
knew of, worked with, saw, and allowed eachother to influence their own artwork.
some seemed to be ahead of their time or working at the same time,
doing similar, if not the same sort of things, while others, took the seed that others planted, and went wild with it.

papagene
10-27-2007, 09:04 AM
Gene,
Brett Weston was not influenced by the abstract expressionists. Brett's photographic career pre-dates the Abstract Expressionist by two decades. Brett started shooting with an abstract eye in Mexico in 1926. The Abstract Expressionists made their splash on the art scene in 1946 and blossumed into the 1950's.

I am aware of Brett's early foray into "abstract" work during his time in Mexico with his dad. I have more in mind his later work which always reminded me, compositionally, of the work of Kline and Motherwell.
As far as the work of the Abstract Expressionist goes, I am well aware of their time table and importance as I have taken enough modern art history classes to have majored in that subject instead of sculpture.

gene

sun of sand
10-28-2007, 02:12 AM
My favorites are many of the original masters and some second generation
Adolph gottlieb, Joan mitchell with Sam francis at the top of the heap

I don't see a way of doing this type of art with a camera outside of photographing moonlight on water and camera shake type stuff or possibly composites ..slippery slope though to make claim of anything

PhotoHistorian
10-28-2007, 02:22 AM
I am aware of Brett's early foray into "abstract" work during his time in Mexico with his dad. I have more in mind his later work which always reminded me, compositionally, of the work of Kline and Motherwell.
As far as the work of the Abstract Expressionist goes, I am well aware of their time table and importance as I have taken enough modern art history classes to have majored in that subject instead of sculpture.

gene

Brett blossomed into abstraction as a 13 year old in Mexico and kept that eye for the next six decades. Any similarity to Kline, Motherwell or anyone else is a coincidence. Brett was not only a photographer, he was also a magnificent sculptor. And the vast majority of his sculptures are three dimensional presentations of his abstract photography. It all goes together because that is how Brett saw the world.

Curt
10-28-2007, 02:46 AM
Brett blossomed into abstraction as a 13 year old in Mexico and kept that eye for the next six decades. Any similarity to Kline, Motherwell or anyone else is a coincidence. Brett was not only a photographer, he was also a magnificent sculptor. And the vast majority of his sculptures are three dimensional presentations of his abstract photography. It all goes together because that is how Brett saw the world.

That's a good point, one that I hadn't thought of, I knew he sculptured and worked with wood but I hadn't connected the two together.

el wacho
10-31-2007, 03:01 AM
there a good german book on what's happening with abstract photography call "art of abstract photography - die kunst de abstrakt fotografie" (? i think that's the spelling ) and it's got some great essays discussing definitions etc. definitely european in its sourcing of photographers. an interesting contemporary at the moment is this guy http://www.ericklemm.com/

el wacho
10-31-2007, 03:05 AM
.... another name is Carl Chiarenza ( he is also a biographer/authority on Aaron Siskind's work. his work is interesting, working within the constraints of b/w and also concerned with the extra-literal possibilities.

el wacho
10-31-2007, 03:17 AM
abstract - http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=abstract

Struan Gray
10-31-2007, 03:44 AM
el wacho, do you have an ISBN for that book? I tried finding it on amazon.de but for reasons that remain obscure the search only turned up Harry Potter.

Love the shavings pics.

el wacho
10-31-2007, 06:16 AM
here is a link on the net http://www.bestwebbuys.com/Die_Kinst_Der_Abstrakten_Fotografi/Art_of_Abstract_Photography-ISBN_9783897900158.html?isrc=b-search
can't vouch for this copy but you should find the isbn.

i found my brand new copy in a surplus book store here in sydney australia.

a must have if your interested in non objective photography.

struan, have you checked out idris khan's stuff? let me know what you think.

Struan Gray
10-31-2007, 07:16 AM
Thanks el wacho - I was being too clever and searching for what I imagined the German title to be. I'll add it to my ever-growing list...

Idris Khan's work is fascinating. I first came across it in the recent Phaidon "Vitamin Ph" book of contemporary photographers, where it really stands out as distinctive. I have a suspicion that what started as an interesting technique has become a rut, but that doesn't detract from the individual photographs. Michael Weseley has done similar things (and to me is considerably more inventive in his exploration of photographic combinations), and the technique goes back at least one hundred years:

http://www.wesely.org/wesely/gruppe.php?var=schule#

http://www.countway.harvard.edu/archives/iotm/iotm_2002-11.shtml

One problem with the technique is that colour images tend to regress to a muddy brown. Sometimes the average is considerably less than the sum of its parts: a composite of all Paul Klees watercolours would lose the luminous delicacy that is their whole point and main attraction. That said, I *really* like some of the effects you can get with tri-colour exposures:

http://cluas.deas.free.fr/sonblog/index.php?2007/10/22/141-nancy-rue-st-jean-trichomie

I'm not the sort to pidgeonhole, but I see this sort of time-slicing or averaging onto a single frame is far more cubist than abstract expressionist. For me at least, abstract expressionism is about flatness, about pure form (without being over-refined), and about avoiding any sense of a program or single meaning for the picture. The incentive is to stop thinking and just look, to deliberately not ask the question "what is it of" or "what is it about", because by asking you immediately limit your options.

el wacho
10-31-2007, 07:43 AM
thanks for pointing out those photographers. i had seen some of wesely's stuff before but had forgotten his name. for me, sugimoto's 'summations of time' images - cinema series and candles , seem to present poetically in an elegant way ( not to disparage the others )... this guy http://salavon.com/work.php also explores this technique. definitely not siskind ( have you read his manifesto? says alot about where he's coming from - for me , one of the greats) and what you say about abstract expressionism, about the artist's concern/ constraint of the flat surface, pure form definitely lines up with what their apologist, clement greenberg says. i know what your saying regarding the timeslicing being more akin to cubist, that attempt to get past the monocular single perspective. it seems your more into the siskind found "visual moment". have you read his interview regarding his process in the book "darkroom" vol 1 & 2 by lustrum ? just amazing what he says about seeing and looking.

Sparky
10-31-2007, 07:50 AM
Wow. Thanks for making those links public. Some pretty interesting stuff there - and thanks also for mentioning Chiarenza - I'd TOTALLY forgotten about that guy...!!! I don't think I came across his name in 15 years or so...!

c6h6o3
10-31-2007, 11:59 AM
I have attached one of my "nothing of worth" abstractions.


Wonderful photograph.

Struan Gray
11-01-2007, 04:04 AM
this guy http://salavon.com/work.php also explores this technique.

How could I not remember having seen every single Playboy Playmate? Seriously though, his Playboy photos and the 100 Speical Moments composites were what persuaded me that only the most boring colour photographs would survive averaging to brown.

Note that in the d*g*t*l world, you can do other things than average (as Salavon hints at in the notes on the 100 Special Moments). Were I rich, or more interested in marketing a shtick, I would be taking long time series with something like a digiblad. Not for APUG though :-)



it seems your more into the siskind found "visual moment". have you read his interview regarding his process in the book "darkroom" vol 1 & 2 by lustrum ? just amazing what he says about seeing and looking.


Siskind is a photographer I simply love on all sorts of levels, and my copy of Siskind 100 is on the list of things to be saved from the fire before helping the children, but apart from the odd dry stone wall I don't take photos that look like his. I have never got very far by forcing myself to expose film whether I want to or not - something he was famous for doing, using ten holders' worth day in, day out.

As a photographer I am indeed more interested in observation and analysis than synthesis. It is an empirical fact that the world is much more interesting and strange than my imagination alone, and I naturally tend towards a sort of neo-modernist photography. On that front I feel more immediate kinship with the art photographers of the 40s and 50s than later conceptual or constructed works.

As a viewer I am into pretty well everything, and I enjoy art that ranges from Carolingian goldsmithy to Spiral Jetty. I feel that my sense of composition and colour comes more from painting and illustration than from photography, despite the fact that I am a terrible painter and mediocre freehand draughtsman. So for me at least there is quite often a mismatch between what sort of work inspires me, and what sort of work most closely resembles my own. I don't think that's so very strange, but I do sometimes feel the photography found in the mainstream galleries and magazines lives in a rather stiflingly restricted visual world.

el wacho
11-01-2007, 05:24 AM
i'm excited to see the word 'neo modernist' being used ... especially in these forums as i believe there is still so much to be done with film and camera. one of my favourite books is 'the zen of seeing' by frederick franke http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Seeing-Drawing-Meditation/dp/0394719689. its refered to by freeman patterson in ' photography and the art of seeing ' .

in 'darkroom' siskind talks about how he goes for a walk with a camera and some film holders and he go to see if he would see anything ( he puts it much better) - after 45min he would sit down with a sandwich because he would be very tired from 'seeing' ...