OK QG - I think you just enjoy being contrary! But that's fine. The devil sometimes needs an advocate. Although I personally don't think that "fine art" has any fixed meaning in the world of photography, and generally avoid using the term myself, I will play along with you.
My dictionary here says that fine art is "art produced chiefly to appeal to the sense of beauty". This is a pretty narrow definition, and clearly many would disagree that the concept is so limited (at least in relation to photography). Nevertheless this seems to be the sort of definition you had in mind above when you defined fine art as pretentious craft portraying only pretty things.
So, even assuming this dictionary definition, why is photography that is directed solely at portraying beauty necessarily pretentious? Why must it only be "craft"? (I am happy to draw a distinction between art and craft, although I think good craft is almost always part of good art.) If a photographer can present a subject that is not often seen, or in a way that it is not often seen, and show you the beauty of it, that seems like something that might legitimately be called art, no? Art, even good art, need not necessarily involve a statement beyond "Behold the beauty here that you have never noticed before". To do this well often requires some vision, beyond mere craft. Of course, what amounts to beauty anyway is a further can of worms again.
It would indeed imply that. But with a twist. I said that you work hard to "realize your vision". There's a difference.
You don't have to suffer. Hopefully you'll enjoy your quest.
Originally Posted by Q.G.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
There we are.
Originally Posted by iandavid
The thing with "fine art" is that it does not present a subject, besides being pretty.
(Yes, yes: there always is a subject. A photograph is always a photograph of something.
But in fine art that something does not matter. All it needs to be is pretty. That - being pretty - is all of its subject).
People may like that. And that's fine of course.
But it does not make it real 'legitimate' art. And that is because, despite concepts perhaps being slippery, art clearly is a different thing.
Yes it does.
Art, even good art, need not necessarily involve a statement beyond "Behold the beauty here that you have never noticed before". To do this well often requires some vision, beyond mere craft. Of course, what amounts to beauty anyway is a further can of worms again.
Art is part of (let us for simplicity's sake call it: ) the Great Discourse.
Culture, civilisation, or whatever you may want to call it, is nothing but all of us communicating, sharing, agreeing and disagreeing, etc. And that all with intent and purpose, with meaning (in every sense imaginable).
There are many ways in which we can do that. One of them (as if it is thing with clear distinctions; it of course is not) is "art".
Take away the communication bit, the statement, and it is pure form. Without any relevance.
There is a catch, of course. Another level.
Reducing things to pure form can also be statement, also be part of the Great Discourse.
And that applies to fine art as well.
It seeking approval of the "migh, isn't that pretty!" kind can be a relevant statement at some point in the Great Discourse.
The subject then can be the lack of 'subject' in much of what we do, exemplified in and by fine art. It itself is then the subject matter of art.
But without this second level, without it being 'meta fine art', it is as much "art" as someone telling his of her neighbour that they really like what they did to their front room.
Relevant too (it obviously serves a definite purpose in the communication between neighbours). But definitely not something anyone would need take note of.
And that's where the pretense is: fine art photography is visual decoration with the pretense of being something more. The pretense of having substance. The pretense of being relevant.
(Which, of course, also applies to much of what aspires to be 'true art'. Being art doesn't necessarily mean it is good art, and not just the pretense of being good art.)
I completely agree with the separation between art and craft.
Craft is our ability to do something.
That something is (or should be) instrumental to our intents and purposes, and mastery of the craft to the degree required by what we want to do with it is, of course, uhm... required.
Here too lies a clear distinction between art and fine art.
In art, all you need is to be able to do what you want to do. That defines the level of craft required.
In fine art, the level of craft is goal in itself. No longer a thing required to be able to do something else.
So an artist does not need to be a complete master of craft. A "fine art"ist must.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
If someone is able to realize his or her vision with minimal effort, the implication still is that it cannot be art.
So a great genius, with very relevant, 'important' views on things, cannot be an artist, because it comes to easily to her or him?
Really doesn't make sense, does it?
I have to go to bed. The only observation I have time for right now is that there are a number of assumed definitions within your post #54 -I am not sure where to start in responding...
Actually, I do have time for one more thought. Art is, to at least a very large extent, about artist intention and viewer perception. Powerful pieces of art will perhaps often enjoy a coincidence of what the artist intended and what viewers perceive in the work. But I think it is possible for an "artist" to intend something that nobody perceives. And it is also possible for a "craftsman" to consciously intend nothing in particular, but for great depth or meaning to be nevertheless widely perceived in the work. In either case, the work might legitimately be called art. How does one decide whether a picture truly objectively has no subject but the prettiness of the picture itself? That might be your personal opinion, but why should I care what you think if I perceive a deeper subject or meaning? (The artist may not be available or willing to confirm whether or not his work is in fact "meta fine art".) One man's garbage is another man's art. Of course, not all art is good art (in my opinion).
Your definition of fine art is now so narrow that most people would probably agree that, as you define it, it is not in fact art. Or alternatively, if it is art, it is bad art. In the context of photography, on your definition, fine art is pure craft - the picture without any possible depth or meaning for anyone.
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I do agree with your point about hidden and accidental intentions.
How to decide whether a picture that wasn't intended to have a 'meaning' has one is simple. As soon as a meaning is discovered, you'll know it.
The question whether the person who unwittingly put that in what was intended to be just a pretty thing is an artist is another matter. Perhaps, in a way. Perhaps not.
An undiscovered meaning, put by an artist into his art, is a bit different.
He or she may be a great artist, potentially, with important things to share with us. But not a great communicator.
It's like wanting to, say, warn the world about impending doom. Being manically driven, perhaps, to save mankind by warning us of great perils that lie in our immediate future.
But doing so in a book written in a language of your own invention that nobody understands, and putting that book on the shelves of libraries expecting that that would be the salvation of humanity.
Might that book be legitimately called a warning to us all?
A great depth of meaning is not there, if there is no way anybody can find it. So an artist that intends something that nobody perceives in his or her works may be a great thinker, potentially a great artist too, but definitely not yet.
You (again) put this "what do i care what you think" thing forward.
It rather is a "what do you think?" thing.
A thing with a quesion mark at the end. We (i at least) do care what you think. Else there is no point in all of this (not just this discussion alone, but art also).
But i do agree that if you find a deeper subject, some meaning, some relevance for you, you do indeed do just that. Even if i don't.
I never said that it need be a universal thing. Some people like to talk about motor cars a lot, and can get very passionate about some obscure difference between some equally obscure part burried away somewhere in among many other obscure parts. Great!
But not my cup of tea. They might as well be talking in Mandarin for as far as i can understand and care.
Yet that is not part of any consideration about whether it makes sense or not, whether that talk about these bits has a proper subject matter. (At least not part of any of my considerations).
As for the 'definition' of fine art being narrow. The important question is of course whether it needs to be wider? Is it not comprehensive?
This is becoming some rambling to and fro.
I think the original post was something like "what is your definition of fine art photography."
It's rather annoying to see people offering their sincere answers and then seeing those picked part ad nauseum by others!
This thread seems to have run its course. If I wanted to hear senseless chatter, I would have stayed married!
Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!
Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
I agree that the thread has unfortunately ventured into areas where it is probably of little interest to most. Sorry!
Sirius, I guess I haven't been married long enough to be as sick of senseless chatter as you. Or it may be that my wife is actually quite sensible
It's fun to knock about, but it is ultimately one of those "How big is a rock?" questions.