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  1. #11

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    The subject of scale in art has been well researched; most of the large prints I see are not scaled correctly. As in many other discpilines where supply exceeds demand by several orders of magnitude and aesthetic ignorance reigns supreme, size, a function of production cost, is taken to indicate the value of the work. In other words, "We can't tell a good picture from a bad one, but he invested three hundred dollars to make this print, so obviously he is confident of his skill, and since you can't have confidence in something that doesn't exist, he obviously does possess skill." Bigger is better alright--only better is not the game here, relevant is.



    PS. Why do you think they insist on telling you how much each of the Oscar contenders cost? Same mechanism. Most people, including the jurors, can't tell an irrelevant movie from...

  2. #12

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    Lots of good points made in the preceding posts. I guess I'm a contrarian by nature but "unthinkingness" always bothers me and that's what I detect in much of the huge print trend. An example... I'm a member of Finland's oldest kamera club and attend meetings somewhat regularly. Last year the group had a special treat, a presentation given by one of Finland's leading art photographers, a charismatic man who has been producing quite splendid pictures for many years. We had a critique session after his presentation, where he looked at prints we had brought and gave them interesting insight and commentary. At one point he asked us: "Why are they all so small?!" and followed this up with "Big, big, big! Make your prints as big as possible!" I bit my tongue. Really, how ridiculous. Did Verocchio, who trained da Vinci, ever exclaim to his young pupil: "Big, big, big! Make your paintings as big as possible!"

  3. #13
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Big Mongo prints are the natural outcome of folks building big houses. It has been a factor in portraiture for a long time, and the decision 30 years ago for the 'pro photofinishing' market to encourage photos to be sold as decor. It has become just-how-business is done for a portrait in 8x10 to be sold for a fraction of what it is worth, and a 30x40 to be sold for many, many times what it is worth. If you are sitting on a large room, and want to look up and see your kids' picture on the wall 20 feet away, a tasty 8x10 doesn't turn the trick. A 40" print is fine, and it makes a snappy looking room. The commercial pressure to sell images is real, and not to be ridiculed. We all should be able to work and eat, and if you think being a professional photographer is a bad thing, we can talk about the social value of writing software at another opportunity.

    "The Market", the average, affluent person who could write off art purchases (remember those days ?) wants to cover the wall. Thank goodness for guys like Carnie who can MAKE lovely prints that are also friggin' huge, for those of use whose darkrooms are in basements, not former bowling alleys.

    (me, I like to look at small prints at arms' length)
    "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"

    -Bertrand Russell

  4. #14

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    Here,for the moment,are some prints from a David Bailey exhibition in London:
    http://www.Bonhams.com/cgi-bin/publi...iSaleNo=18483#
    Some of the larger prints are generally around 42 in square.
    The technical quality of some of the prints,which can IMO only be appreciated on larger prints,is quite something for the 1960's.
    My point is that if they were printed small the artistic merits could be seen but printing them large shows their technical quality as well.

  5. #15

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    Last summer I went to a Gursky exhibition in Vancouver. The use of scale was interesting there because unlike most of his showings, the majority of the prints were (I think) 16 X 20. These competed surprisingly well with the few wall size prints also on display. Still, a 10 foot print commands a certain respect. At the least, you pay much more attention to the details in it.

  6. #16

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    I totally agree with df cardwells rationale. I'd be curious if market preference is regional based on home size (and thus room size, wall size, viewing distance, etc)

  7. #17
    clayne's Avatar
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    Rather than huge prints, why not just show a greater number of smaller prints? Oh that's right, they can't back it up with consistent quality images to support that theme. Better break out the mural roll.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  8. #18
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    If you can't make it good, make it big. If big isn't possible, make it red.

    Been the rule in sculpture for years.

  9. #19
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    I've heard that small is the new big.

  10. #20
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    I went to a talk on collecting photography, last week, in DC. On the panel was a well known gallery owner who addressed the issue of size. It came down to "real estate". While most people won't question a 16x20 painting for 3-4,000 dollars, they will question a similar sized photograph at 10% of that price. Larger prints command larger dollars. Galleries have finite wall space, and need to maximize the dollars per square foot. Between rent, staff, and publicity, large prints give them more bang for the buck. If they can sell a 16x20 for $250, a more limited print (of the same image) at 32x40 can go for $2500. This applies to contemporary photographers, not vintage prints by famous shooters.

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