I'd say he's better recognised as a commercial photographer, but I got to know him through his "Yangtze - The Long River" and Chernobyl series. He's definitely heralded as a big name in contemporary art photography.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Burtynsky is in the same sphere I'd say, for his almost painterly compositional convention in tandem with subject matter that can only be described as photographic. Their work transcends the medium and finds itself shifting towards the pole of art because it says things of universal relevance that only a photographer can say - namely, a direct tackling of the social environment. Burtynsky's environmental subject matter just wouldn't work in painting because it is so illustrative and so much about man's effect, but his visual sense and artistic framework, like Kander's, is more 'classical' or operatic and owes itself more to the great landscape painters than any photographer. In the art world's mind I'd assume these painterly references are what get the brownie points, as well as an embracing of what they see as photography's strength, to describe, to play it straight. There is little in either of their work that appears to be directly descended from the lineage of photographic convention (of composition or approach to subject matter), only a surface connection to the concerns of the New Topographics.
So I definitely think for photography to be well regarded in the art world it has to be both uniquely photographic (embrace the medium's strengths and limitations), subjectively relevant (timely), and also nod its head to the broader arts (painterly technique/compositions/symbolism/knowledge and proper use of colour) - having an art education obviously helps here. I think street photography is regarded as an oddity because it is uniquely photographic, socially relevant, but ignorant about the visual arts. This is why historians will tell us the greatest 'photographers' are street and documentary, yet they give other work the benefit of the doubt, allowing it to fall into the art sphere, so long as those visual nods to art convention are there.
Abstract or transformative photography tends to be dismissed because 1. It doesn't hold relevance for the average viewer and 2. Is seen as a deception (i.e. the famous thing with Ansel Adams' details - "What's the medium?"). Yet abstracts that are clearly photographic tend to get more recognition from the art world - recently, Hiroshi Sugimoto's 'Lightning Fields' - because the photographer is playing it straight and the subject matter is universally identifiable, symbolic (dangerous?) and visually immediate.
There was certainly a wrestling within modernism and pictorialism of "should we/shouldn't we?" It was very much a time of testing the water, gaining the respect of the traditional art world and establishing photography's place and true virtues. I think today photographers are more at ease with the idea of referencing art, as the water has settled and photography has gained more recognition.
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
I don't want to come off narcissistic. Sure I want to know what to call myself. And I know right now I won't call myself a "fine art" photographer.
Originally Posted by eddie
I am sure, markbarendt, you only have a few record shots where you don't know what motivated you. Did you forget to "turn something on" inside? Or maybe your subconscious holds the key.
If you were to compare some of my duds to a grilled steak, I'd sometimes deserve criticism like "that meat was sure chewy" (to quote young Austen G, dinner guest).
But usually I try to feel something, anything, as I take the shot and again when I print it. Last night I wasn't feeling it so I didn't even turn on the water.
So I practice the art - I can safely say that.
The others who "make" their photographs or work off concrete concepts - I can safely say they are miles ahead of me in the "fine art" arena. And I am comforted by those miles.
batwister, I'm digesting your thoughts. Chewy, but tasty!... When I think of street photography today, I don't rule out composition. Cliveh is showing us that photographers can organize a scene into a photograph. Steichen was saying that kind of thing in the article, that a photograph is just a record until it is organized. Then it comes alive.
Well put Batwister! I liked your post.
Originally Posted by batwister
Would a nice corollary be that photography is changing much like how painting evolved with the arrival of Picasso's mixed media Still Life with Chair Caning in 1912?
Still Life with Chair Caning
Kind of ironic that Still Life with Chair Caning was exactly 100 years ago
An image like this perhaps –
Originally Posted by batwister
I personally find many of to-days advertising, fashion and commercial photographers are producing far more creative and exiting work to me than boatloads of these self styled "art photographers".