The work of Adams, the Westons, et al, was fresh, adventurous,
and as counter-to-the establishment as could be
in the days of flacid and corrupt pictorialism.
Predictably, they were succeeded by photographers
who proudly composed in Zones and had Big Cameras,
but lacked the vision and originality of their heroes.
Today, we seem to be stuck with NeoPictorialists and NeoCalifornians,
whose major difference is whether they print their "Nude & Waterfall"
on Azo, or LithPrint.
Poor, poor Photography deserves better.
Today there are legions of photographers who are interpreting the world using the filter of their personal experience -- not that of a prior original. I think it is ok to trace other people's lines if you haven't the ability to create your own or to try and learn from what what others have done, but not so great to worship idols and anachronisms.
I'm not a huge fan of saint Ansel but 99% of people I know would only be able to name him if asked who is a famous photographer. Not too self important really.[/QUOTE]
There are many people, when asked to name a famous baseball player will come up with Babe Ruth. But that does not mean they know diddly squat about baseball, it's history, rules, and traditions.
I can say, from my own experience and viewpoint, that my trips to the Carmel area were very important. I can also say that the modern prints in the Weston Gallery do not compare with the Edward Weston originals I have seen. Quite frankly, I think it's the paper, not the technique, which was better "in ye oldene dayz."
I can also say that the prints in the touring Adams retro which I saw many years back at the National Gallery in Washington, DC were wretched. Again, it's the paper, I think.
To me, learning photography is like writing; and I echo previous sentiments expressed about "the vision thing." In my view, one looks at the "masters;" one studies what they saw and how they expressed it (including learning the mechanics) and one then applies this knowledge to build and express in one's own ways, that which E. Weston called in the Day Books, "seeing photographically."
Meine zwei Großchen.
John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
Not strictly true Ansel Adams was not included in the prestigious Art of Photography Exhibitions in 1989 celebrating 150 years of Photography because his work wasn't felt to be original. The Topographic photographers like Carelton Watkins had been shooting similar images 50 years before.
Originally Posted by df cardwell
My comment was directed at the promotion of the video not the artists. The kind of statement that I referenced tends to be an indicator of the tone of the presentation which is what I find off putting. 99% of the people may be able to name Adams, but I suspect that those same folks would point to images that weren't photographed by him as being the most iconic or important. The former would point to their lack of photo art history knowledge (no big deal), but the latter is fundamentally important as it is an indication of what is culturally important.
Originally Posted by Mateo
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Individual artist's stock rises and falls as the work is re-evaluated by subsequent critics and, like everything else, is subject to the changing prevailing fashions. Adams predictably lost favor in a time when innovation, even innovation with little else going for it, became a primary criterion. I suppose he was an anachronism. Measured against his artistic peers, of whom few were left during most of his lifetime, most likely he would hold up quite well. Few critics in the 1980's and beyond remained vitally interested in 19th Century realism, as an active tradition, which it was for Adams'. He was a pretty good 19th century artist. In his early years, the work he would have seen would have included the 19th C realist tradition, then very much alive. Where others chose to move in other directions, AA did not.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
I suspect that his period of critical darkness will endure for awhile until the passage of time blurs the temporal boundaries and changing of schools that seem so important today, and he will be viewed more as a part of his tradition, rather than strictly of his own calendar time.
Of course, how any of us, as individuals, see his work today will depend upon our own peculiar orientation; some will love it, some will not. I think that he will remain popular because his work is now sort of cliché, easy for people who aren't students of the medium to enter and pleasant to fantasize; a grand world, full of sublime drama, and devoid of inhabitants. This is not to put him down; it is a great accomplishment to achieve a cliché of one's own creation. And now that "nature" is something we find only in museums, his work may take on even greater importance.
To equate Adams' work with Watkins, O'Sullivan, Jackson, etc. is really not quite fair. It ignores a great deal of his work. None of them did a lot of detail, but he did. What they photographed was present; when he photographed structures, the images are usually records of buildings having been built in one time as seen in another. In that sense, I think there might be a case for seeing Watkins and Adams, in particular, as sort of the bookends of the realist movement, one on the leading edge, the other finishing it up.