Growth or variety is inherent or should be. We are all as different as we are similar. What people don't seem to do, is give themselves license to explore uncharted or uncharitable territory. The goal of the vast majority seems to be the measurable aspects of photography or focusing on objects with the widest acceptance or objects in general. It is a lot tougher to shot an idea than it is to shoot a wonderfully lit canyon. It is tougher to understand and use contrast, grain, saturation, density, focal length to impact the emotive aspects of a scene than it is to pick something pretty and expose it *correctly*. The evocative aspects of one good landscape are not much different from the next. Even though landscape 1 is shot in NZ and landscape 2 in the USA. The repetition may not be the subject but the simplicity and similarity of the reaction to the photograph.
I think one big problem inhibiting the growth of photography as an art form is the ubiquity of photographic practice which is not of artistic intent. People in most Western societies are subjected to a by the constant barrage of images coming from the propagandist (e.g., advertising) and documentary (e.g., newspapers) sectors of photographic practice. This is compounded by the fact that photography is the dominant means of visual expression on the planet by several orders of magnitude. All of the millions of vacation photographers and camera phone users make photographs that mean something to them, and that influences their perception of what makes a good photograph in a way that does not necessarily affect their ideas about what makes a good painting. These two forces alone could produce the extremely conservative appetite for photography that exists today.
Originally Posted by jd callow
I agree, and I think you make excellent points. As someone who photographs mostly in color and makes photographs of the landscape, it gives me alot to think about.
On another forum there was an interesting comment (paraphrasing) we try to achieve perfection in what we do until a new methodology comes along that makes perfection easy. Then we begin to value the evidence of hand of man in the making of the artwork, including obvious imperfections. Painting during the 19th centruy is a good case in point with realism giving way to impressionism. In photography, a Jerry Uelsmann image was valued for its realistic surrealism. Now with digital any kid with PS skills can do the same. We then return to the f64 group's value of technical superiority of LF especially for B&W. We've also seen a resurgence of interest in alt processes such as Gum Bichromate. But, from a recent gallery tour, its evident that PS users can easily create the almost garish aspects of Gum printers. No real solution for this conumdrum but we do need to emphasize the hand-crafted aspect of fine art in order to differentiate ourselves.
van Huyck Photo
"Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"
Photography and contemporary art (painting, sculpture, video) have always been intertwined. Early in the last century painters emulated various aspects of photography in their work. Today, if you walk into most galleries of contemporary photography you will find that photographs emulate the other arts. First almost all the work is color. Second it will most assuredly be political in nature. Finally, it will usually be anything but the West Coast, Adams/Weston/F64 type images. Besides, being political it is much more related to pop culture and reflecting the photographers perception of society.
I think contemporary photographers are very interested in making what they consider to be beautiful photographs. I don't think they have any interest in making photographs of beautifull things.
Some of it is very good, most banal and self-absorbed crap. But that is the way art has always been. It's up to the audience to sift the good from the bad.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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I would like to suggest two NYC galleries, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, whose offerings are representative of works that this discussion touches on. Both of these gallery proprietors have stated in print that new and important work that they choose to show is mostly being done in color and is often (especially Benrubi) very large.
It's actually amazing to me how unsaturated (how anti-Velvia if you will) the color is and, in many instances, how often the work resembles what has been discussed above....no Yosemite, no Tuscany, no Rocky Mountain golden hour sunset, autumn aspen, alpenglow, cotton candy waterfall and lupine meadow. But how long will anyone want to live with a 40x50 image of a tire in a junkyard. Who the hell are the buyers of this stuff anyway??
OTOH, it's also notable to me the degree to which paintings in NYC galleries and other major centers are beginning to show beautiful paintings of beautiful things. It's true that there are still the execrable "show me something I've never seen before" artworks that may consist of colored paper clips in hanging ranks and files, and good luck to 'em since I bear no artist ill will, but I'll be damned if I'll take such crap seriously...let alone choose to buy it if I had the wherewithall.
To make a musical analogy if I may. The 20th century witnessed the rise of art music (whatever that means, it is certainly the antithesis of popular music) that absolutely and unequivocally alienated the mass audience. Academic composers seem still to even be proud of the notion that if it's accessible, it must, a priori, suck. They have the arrogance to demand that the audience learn their private, and unique musical language. Composers who are lucky enough to get even one performance usually realize they'll rarely, if ever, get another. And this passes for a career??
So...not to worry. Most people, I think, want to cherish music, art, and photography that is emotionally, or visually, or aurally resonant with something within them that matters. The good stuff WILL find an enthusiastic audience.
Hmm, & just how did it become "important," exactly?
Originally Posted by jovo
Like any parent will comfortably express: ."because I say so!" Go figure? The fact is that these are major galleries in NYC and what they deem to be important "is" important for no other reason that they have amassed the clout to make it so. Please tell me how you and I could be an equally potent force in the high end art photography dodge.
Originally Posted by bjorke
In the mean time, check out the really nice work here: http://foleygallery.com/index.php3
I bought a Christopher Burkett 'graph from Michael when he worked for the Edward Carter Gallery. He's honest, and knows his stuff.
I don't know if it's a schism, so much as different schools. Just my opinion on semantics.
In any event, maybe the tide is turning. Strictly anecdotal "evidence":
About 10 years ago I visited the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. By making an appointment, you could choose any three portfolio boxes in their collection, and they would bring them to you to spend an hour with the prints. I picked three boxes of Edward Weston because I had never seen an actual print. The thrill of the hour spent there is a whole other story ...
I was aided by a young photography student from the univesity who worked at the CCP. She had absolutely no interest in the Weston prints, and although polite and helpful, was obviously bored. So, I asked her what type of photography she did and liked and some of her favorite photographers. I didn't recognize any of the names she stated, but got a clear picture from her description of the images. Color, candid, "edgy" avant-garde, etc. OK, fine.
Now, I am acquanted with a grad student in photography who does all sorts of things, yet the all sorts includes not only digital, but hybrid, straight B&W, alt processes and now wet plate. And just recently, I was at a gathering of photographers which included several students. A 20ish year old young lady, who otherwise reminded me of the one from 10 years ago, picked up one of my straight "old fashioned" silver prints and said one word: "Wow!"
Maybe the pendulum is now motorized, and set to a higher speed than it's been previously set to.
Originally Posted by David Brown