MattKing: as you quote Ansel: “Photography is a complex and fluid medium..." This is, of course, correct and confirms what I say below.
About large size: Yes I did make that point whereby subject matter (vast scenics sometimes, or large group portraits) mandates a larger footprint. This is simply common sense. But there are those (multitudes) who START with the premise that size is the de facto king and the primary, if not sole, determinant of print quality. This premise is what is being disputed and no one on this board thinks that large prints are always exponents of misplaced aesthetics. - David Lyga
Not to blow my own horn, but I have some friends who have a lot of photographs in their house. No Adamses or anything like that; images from other friends. Mostly of a landscape nature. All very pretty and technically solid. Last year, out of gift-desperation I gave them a B&W 4x5 test print, spotted and framed with a floating matte and held to the backing with clear plastic corners. Threw it together in half an hour. They thanked me but I never asked them what they thought of it. A while ago I met him on the street and he said 'You know that print...' His voice just trailed off and he smiled and shook his head.
Originally Posted by Klainmeister
My point is that yes, it is funny how things work, especially with art. If you really hit your mark it shouldn't be explainable why it is liked by someone; the why should be too deeply engendered to express casually. It was nice to think I might have approached that point, most of my stuff is completely forgettable.
Good call, the rellenos.
So just for the sake of argument; I have been thinking about this 'size matters' thread.
Suppose one takes a print that would normally look wonderful at 6x8" size. Say a portrait that you're very pleased with, something subtle and beautiful. If you made this print 5feet by 7feet instead, the relationship with the picture might change and that juxtaposition could be interesting.
There was a thread here a while back about a very large print by Andreas Gursky, Rhein II at 81 x 140 inches in size. It made me wonder how my relationship to one of my own pictures would change if it were printed that large.
While I don't care much for that print by Gursky, size can definitely have an impact on the viewing experience, so it is probably incorrect to state that size isn't an important decision. We can all just decide for ourselves what we like, and I think that perhaps some people are lazy in that regard, and just buy whatever they're supposed to be investing in, or just like what everybody else likes.
I really do think that this discussion is founded in that we should think for ourselves and reach our own conclusions about what we like, and if we care enough it might be interesting to discover why that is too.
I once had a conversation with an art dealer in New York who was good friends with Bonni Benrubi, the gallery owner. She sent me to go see a show that Bonni had up on the wall of platinum prints by Jed Devine. Jed's prints were anywhere from 6x17cm to 8x10 inch. Beautiful work. Bonni told her she had the show of Jed's work because it was beautiful and needed to be seen, but she was unlikely to make any sales off of it. The big "hedge fund wallpaper" color inkjet prints of deadpan ersatz snapshots, however, she could barely keep in stock. When it comes to galleries, they are as much slaves to the market as they are market-makers.
Originally Posted by semi-ambivalent
I once had an exhibition were I actually sold more small prints (12x12cm) than bigger prints. The small photos were in 70x50cm mat and the bigger prints in a little smaller mats. The small prints were all a little darker (lithprints) and the matting (off white) but the contrast seemed to have worked because people wanted to know what the small dark square in the middle of the white was furthermore it looked a lot like a modern painting (Malewitsch). The bigger is better philosophy is not necessaraly new one only has to look at Rubens paintings they are huge, funnily enough the most powerful Rubens I've ever seen was no larger than 5x7in (a gallow in front of storm clouds and hills).
For my next exhibition of Naked Portraits I am going to both ends, big 32x40 inch, with every follicle delineated, prints for the big wall and a swarm of 10x8" contact prints
These are aimed to attract corporate and state collections and also people who love small prints for their intimacy and tonal subtlety or just want a print they can afford
This is theory at this stage, we will see what happens