Just what was knee-jerk about Blansky's response. I thought it got right to the heart of the matter.
Originally Posted by Artur Zeidler
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
Atget's body of work is worthy of praise but many of his individual photographs really are sloppy. The guy was trying to make a living, photographing to sell photographs to artists. He surely had to make a lot of photographs to cover all the bases. The first photograph of the tree would be something of a curiosity and noteworthy if it were only one of a very few surviving Atget's photos. But because it is only one of a huge body of work, I have trouble liking it very much compared to others.
Since this 'discussion' devolved immediately to judgement,
it's pretty hard to discuss the picture.
I've often quoted SK Grimes' maxim in the workshop,
"Sometimes the test tests the tester". If we apply it here,
we learn a great deal about the contributors,
even if little is offered about the photograph.
I like the picture a great deal: I enjoy the chaos of nature,
and prefer to be in the regions where nature and the 'hand of man' coincide. Nature, and time, will soften a gentle hand, and the french countryside is a fine example of this special beauty.
The apparent obstacle of the cross in the upper left corner of the image and the bisection of the image by the tree in the center of the frame violate the tasteful rules of the salon artists who would define what was good, and acceptable. Today, a century and a half after the Salon was destroyed, our neo-aristocracy would make us conform to their 'rules'.
Atget's obstacles DO make me fight a bit to get at the image, but it is no more of a struggle than nature provides on a walk through the woods, or any urban scene where galvanized steel posts and wires, and acres of cement are the moss earth, and branches of the city landscape. It is probably a good thing Atget chose to make us 'discover the subject' as he did. The composition, the excitement of his discovery of the scene, certainly depended upon peeking around the tree, moving from side to side. It may be a well drawn landscape from an Urban eye, used to the distractions of the city. If so, Atget becomes the proto-type of Winogrand, Friedlander, and all those who found beauty within urban clutter and who chose to shoot what was before them, and not go far away to find something 'pretty'.
It's interesting that Atget employed the classical composition device of the 'golden spiral' ( or, it might be a Fibonacci spiral... who knows) to make a mess. Then it is an awfully carefully crafted mess, I have to say.
The effect, for me, is to see the picure as many smaller images within the general frame of the original - suggesting even the 'draughtsman's net' used in the old days to assist the rendition of accurate perspective ( shown below in a woodcut by Durer ).
Anyhow, it's a beautiful picture, which gets better the more time I spend with it. Unlike a 'pictorially perfect picture', I'm drawn into the picture. The multiple images-within-an-image create a visual harmony that rewards time spent with the image.
Beautiful, thanks TIM.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
I was hoping someone would pick up on that - as you say DF - anything but messy, but rather very precise
Here's a diagram from a text on the subject - match the two...
the bisection of the image by the tree in the center of the frame violate the tasteful rules of the salon artists who would define what was good, and acceptable. Today, a century and a half after the Salon was destroyed, our neo-aristocracy would make us conform to their 'rules'.
It's interesting that Atget employed the classical composition device of the 'golden spiral' ( or, it might be a Fibonacci spiral... who knows)
This is a bit confusing: Though you obviously do not see much worth in any rules, no matter if those of the old salon are meant or those of the neo aristocracy, you believe to see Atget using a classical composing device here, the Golden Spiral ? As for me, neither approximately nor correctly I can see the Golden Spiral here, the squares are simply not set right for it.
As for the "rules" , IMHO there are rules and laws. Rules may change with the times, they always relate to a historical esthetics (salon). Laws do not change, they refer to our human perception as the Golden Cut does for example.
Leaving the "rules" aside, related to the "laws" I too find this photo a mess, as it was said. From other reasons too, but those don't play a role here. It's like a needle in my eye.
That is surprising, because Atget was an educated painter who really knew that all and who made photos for painters who made painting from such photos.. Terrible to see that some burrow through his work now and publish whatever they find interesting, and he cannot stop them. As so very often, also in this case I have serious doubts that he would want to see this neg published. Maybe we should burn all doubtful negs before we die ?
Last edited by rfshootist; 08-14-2006 at 10:59 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Originally Posted by mark
the keen-jerk sarcastic (nay, snide) anti-intelectualism. That is, the apparently simplistic belief that someone who has studied several hundred probably a couple of thousand or more photographs from a photographers work in close detail, who has read the photogrpahers notes and what correspondences of his remain, who has spoken at length with any of those left who knew the photographer has nothing of value to say about that photographers work.
I really like the composition and its pretty straightforward to me.
Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
no digital additives and shit
I can't get the spiral out of this that others have pointed out. I can however see a grid, with the tree, water line, and branches forming the divisions. Still, when I view this my eye moves to the X and stays there. It doesn't move to the rest of the image and when I look elsewhere, my eye is pulled back to the X or the tree. If I try to look at the tree, my eye flows off the top or bottom rather than around the rest of the photo. This photo evokes no special feelings, is not overly aesthetically pleasing to me, and it doesn't make me wonder.
If I am remembering properly, I do not think that is so.
Originally Posted by rfshootist
First, there are a number of his pictures that we know Atget took for himself. This was especially so in his later years after the Great War. It is also obvious that he played with (and also deliberately broke) many of the painterly rules of composition in his photographs (which was apparently one of the reasons he was "adopted" in his old age by the Surrealists).
In addition, from his albums, I recall this is certainly not one that he chose to discard, but rather the opposite. It was also one of a series that he sold to the Bibliothèque Nationale
Sorry that it bothers you so much to have someone disagree with you. At least I am open about it, and not sending anonymous postings to your website, trashing your work.
Originally Posted by tim atherton