One thing I see missed here is that even though people to not want to do an artist statement ( as I do not as I think the work shoudl make the statement ) some galleries require it. So what do you do?
This is a problem I have. I do not now to write one but the gallery wants one. Catch 22.
This has turned out to be a real train wreck of a thread!
Is it that not many people have had a one man (person) show that needed an artist statement? I've only shown in our local museum - at three pivotal points in my growth as an artist - but it did force me to define in as few words as possible why I photograph, or, as with the statement in my first post, why I wouldn't explain my work. A worthwhile excersize in and of itself. Oh well...it was worth a try...
As I see it, artists need first to strive for technical mastery and then connect with their emotions as steps along the road to the ultimate goal:
[COLOR=Blue]Finding your own voice[/COLOR]
Writing an artist's statement can be a useful means of facilitating this process. I am sorry that no one felt able to comment on the content of my statement, which as simply and concisely as possible reflects where I feel I am in this process. I would particularly re-affirm my determination to use my work to say something about now and not repeat myself. What I have heard in many of the responses to this thread is simply the sound of people way out of their comfort zone. As a professional, I write and think in the terms used in my statement every day. I have no desire to dictate to others how they should behave or think.
Practical suggestion - to get away from staring at a blank sheet of paper, try this:
Originally Posted by kjsphoto
These pictures are of [simple description of subject matter]. The reason why I felt drawn to this was [just a few simple words describing your motivation]. Having completed this project, I now feel [simple down-to-earth description of your feelings about the finished work]. I hope you like the work.
Try this template, personalize and change it as much or as little as you want, and you should find that an artist's statement has mysteriously appeared! If you want to run it by someone, try a friend or PM me.
Somewhere in here, my "ornery" glands would kick in. The idea of a Gallery DEMANDING an "Artists Statement" rankles my fur.
Sounds like someone has a slightly off-kilter desire to dominate... "Do what we tell you, or you can't play".
I'm trying to visualize the response of some of the most respected photographers that I've had the good fortune of knowing.... I can't think of one who would go along with this... not that they couldn't ... but as a matter of principle and maintaining a one's image... and a balanced relationship with the gallery.
One thing is certain ,,, the Galleries NEED your work ... more than you need them. We can survive without participating in that fraction of Galleries that would make a demand like that ... they CAN NOT survive without the participation of the Artists/ Photographers.
A shade softer ... I might write something like, "I came. I saw. I photographed. What else is of any importance?"
If *I* was informed of the mandatory requirement of submitting an "Artist's Statement" ... I would reply, "My WORK is my "Statement". Period.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
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Like it or not, galleries do ask for artists' statements (they don't demand them at gunpoint), together with CVs and other background information. They use this material as a starting point for conversations with clients about artists' work. Since this may well lead to sales, which is in the interests of both the artist concerned and the gallery, most professional artists are more than happy to supply this material!
And what if your CV isn't up to scratch? Will galleries refuse work from someone with the 'wrong' school/college etc on their CV? Are you saying a self-taught photographer is not an artist without an artist's statement or a CV?
Sorry, but this all smacks of the hijacking of art by self-important graduates and pseudo intellectuals! How long until we see 'Art Idol' and the removal of artistic control from those who wish to show in galleries?
Maybe someone in this thread could post up some artist's statements from Henri Cartier Bresson, O. Winston Link or Ansel Adams...
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
To all those who are against the idea of a written statement; let's say you had gone to the trouble of printing, matting, and framing 40 prints and had them hanging in a gallery, museum, cafe, mall, or hog barn. Someone comes up to you and asks, "could you clarify something for me?" Would you stand mute, shake your head, and point at your images?
Concerning the Giants of photography; if they didn't write a statement, you can bet the curator made sure there was written material on the wall...would you want someone to speak for you? Besides! What's the big deal? If you don't want to read it, please avert your eye's. You can always concentrate on the images themselves.
Here's one for you Andy, it's the first and last paragraphs from: Portfolio Three - Yosemite Valley - Sixteen Original Photographic Prints by Ansel Adams.
Originally Posted by Andy K
"Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. I know of no sculpture, painting, or music that exceeds the compelling spiritual command of the soaring shape of granite cliff and dome, of patina of light on rock and forest, and of the thunder and whispering of the falling, flowing waters. At first the colossal aspect may dominate; then we perceive and respond to the delicate and persuasive complex of nature."
"Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him - and help him comprehend man's continuing need for that world."
Pick up the book and give it a read...each portfolio is preceded by a statement, either by Ansel, or by Nancy and/or Beaumont Newhall.
I'm still thinking this over.
If I *had* to make a statement "explaining" a particular work, I would consider the work to be something of a failure. If the "statement" is to supply some sort of "justification" for what I have done ... forget it. I refuse to apologize. If *I* decide that there would be some benefit in changing the perception of a particular work ... I will do that without a request... we actually do that when we "title" our work.
If the Gallery wants something to artificially "pump me up" in the eyes of the beholder -- NO WAY. I DON'T do that on my own - and I take great exception to anyone doing that for me.
About "advertising" -- there might be some value to the Gallery in a cooperative attempt at writing advertising copy for "sales"'... fine with me, but I would suggest closer communication, close two-way with feedback, with those who write the copy. The content there will depend more on what the Gallery wants to say than what I have to say.
Personally, my most important motivation is NOT "to sell". As a matter of fact, the most irritating participants in the field of art, to ME, are those who manically cry, "Sell. sell, sell" .. as if that was the ONLY thing that mattered.
One has to define what is meant by an "Artist's Statement" .. If something like a description of MY philosophy is desired, they better brace themselves .. I can go on for *hours* as some of you who have read me here can well imagine. To explain that coherently in three words or less --- I think I'd rather try to explain man's reason for being ... which, come to think of it -- isn't so far removed...
I'm thinking of this scenario: I am walking down a street in the Gallery district of town. I see a Gallery with a sign: "Black and White Photography by Joe Mxtstyblkxks". On entering, there is NO "Artist's Statement" to be found, anywhere.
How does the absence of that statement affect me? Not much. Very little, as matter of fact. Probably as intensely its presence would - still not much.
Ed Sukach, FFP.