Wall Street Journal Article - 'Giclee' Prints roil the world of painting
There is an interesting article in today's (July 21) Wall Street Journal about how digital reproduction techniques are causing some controversy in the world of fine art painting. One paragraph begins 'Fine art or faux art...' I had to laugh while I was drinking my coffee. So the painting world is in the middle of the same debates as the photography world. I guess nowhere is safe anymore! This is really, truly FYI. I am not attempting to start up the digital bashing stuff again. Frankly, I am sick of it. I am of the opinion that you should do your thing, throw it against the wall, and see what sticks. Ultimately, it won't matter one bit what we think, but rather what people with 'folding green' think that will determine its value.
I haven't read the article, but do do a lot of 'gicleé' reproductions for artists. (sorry for the quotes, but the prints are not strictly giclee as a brand name) The prints are made on rag (usually) w/ uv pigmented inks from 4x5 copy neg scans. It is hard work to match the original and pretty easy to identify the copy as a copy, unless it is a gouache, and to a lesser degree, watercolour. All in all they are very nice and a good way for an artist to expand their product.
One problem with the approach we take is generational loss/changes, particularly in colour of original to film to digital, and final colour correctness, contrast and density on the paper. We do this for the artist, I hope that the galleries or third parties are not doing this w/o the artists consent and then selling them as originals.
"So the painting world is in the middle of the same debates as the photography world. I guess nowhere is safe anymore!"
Yeah, I can see this happening. DSLR owners becoming oil painters and watercolor painters. If the end product is all that matters and a dslr image is filtered into a watercolor image then outputted, in the digital camp it is a watercolor painting. If a dslr image is filtered in photoshop to be a charcoal drawing, then outputted, it is a charcoal drawing. If a dslr image is edited in photoshop and outputted to a printer it is a photograph. All the lines are blurring, and it's happening at art's expense..
A photograph given a watercolor look, oil painting look, or charcoal look through Photoshop is not a watercolor or an oil painting or a charcoal as it is not created through the use of the designated media (watercolors , oil paints, or charcoal). It may be a watercolor digigraph, or an oil digigraph, or a charcoal digigraph, but it is emphatically not an actual watercolor painting, oil painting, or charcoal drawing.
Some people do direct digital artwork using a tablet, and the effects available through the software. You have to be every bit as proficient (and have eye/had coordination) with this technique as you do using a brush, pencil, or air brush, pen, etc. In fact, in many ways it's harder because a brush, pencil, or pen has a certain friction "feel" between it and the artwork surface - where the stylus / tablet interface has the same surface friction whether you are using a large brush or small brush setting.
But, even if you do an original "watercolor" rendering through a computer it still never looks like a watercolor - it's really a different piece of artwork. Watercolors are especially difficult to emulate because you can work on wet or dry paper, wet over the top of applied paint, spot wet an area, etc. These effects really can't be duplicated through the computer process.
Likewise, an oil painting effect really never looks like an oil painting because oils (or acrylics) have a 3-D brush texture, and even greater texture if a pallette knife is used. Something you cannot reproduce with the strictly inkjet output.
But, all that being said, there is no reason that a piece created through a computer can't be art - is there?
As for photographs - a photograph is an image created through photography. Photography is recording an image on a light sensitive surface using a camera. Certainly, a DSLR meets that criteria. As for outputting through an inkjet printer, this is really no different than making a photo-lithograph or a photo-serigraph print, both of which have been accepted as art for many years.
Recently, I put together a panorama that I shot in 1992. I did five shots of the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers figuring that at some time in the future there would be a way to put them together into a single photo. I did that using Photoshop and another software program. It probably took me somewhere in the area of 20 hours to get the final image prior to printing. It was printed on my Epson 9600 and is everything, aesthetically speaking, that I had in mind.
Since creating it, I have sold two of them and had it accepted into a show. Is it art? You know, I really don't care. It is a gorgeous print that could not have been created without the combination of traditional photographic techniques and digital technology.
I guess I don't understand why people feel threatened by, or are constantly negative about, the use of digital technology - it has allowed me even greater freedom to produce images that I could not have done using only traditional photo processes.
Rather than being negative and bemoaning the "blurring" of lines - I'd suggest that carefully using the processes for creative purposes is a far more enriching endeavor.
"A photograph given a watercolor look, oil painting look, or charcoal look through Photoshop is not a watercolor or an oil painting or a charcoal as it is not created through the use of the designated media (watercolors , oil paints, or charcoal). It may be a watercolor digigraph, or an oil digigraph, or a charcoal digigraph, but it is emphatically not an actual watercolor painting, oil painting, or charcoal drawing."
I agree with what you are saying above, but my point is, some clowns out there will eventually take a dslr shot, convert it to a watercolor image in photoshop, put new watercolor inks in their epson, user water color paper, and you can be sure as hell they will call them "watercolors" or "watercolor paintings", and sell them as watercolor paintings without telling anyone it was a digitally produced media. I think people have a right to know what they are buying or viewing. I have already seen lightjet prints devoid of all mention of digital processing and hiding behind the traditional paper name to make it appear it is a handprinted image.
"Rather than being negative and bemoaning the "blurring" of lines - I'd suggest that carefully using the processes for creative purposes is a far more enriching endeavor."
So I can't have it both ways? I do use a process for creative purposes and find it enriching, does this mean I should keep my mouth shut when artists are deceiving the public with their work? Believe me, we haven't seen anything yet. I've said before it's just a matter of months before gelatin inkjet papers arrive, and 'silver inksets' are available so the digital printers can then sell their inkjets as "silver gelatin prints". This has almost happened with platinum, ask Jorge about Platinum Giclee prints.
That's all I'm getting at, mainly these bad apples out there who trash everyone for thinking art is more than the 'finished product'. Their disregard for what it means as a human to create something with real materials by hand is disgusting to me..
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Originally Posted by Sean
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I agree, it is time to draw the lines. I would respect digital more if it did not try to hop on the backs of more established mediums, instead of carving their own market out. It would not have been difficult.
It takes effort and skill to create something in the digital environment, just as it does in any other environment. I met a guy last weekend that called himself a digital artist, not a photographer. He did not feel it was the final product that dictated what the final product was called. If digital was used at any step then it was a digital product. If no digital then it was not digital. So the other side is capable of clear thinking .
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
"I would respect digital more if it did not try to hop on the backs of more established mediums"
I sure hope digital photography evolves into that. Several digital mediums have. You have "digital animators" who call themselves digital animators not "animators" -they are proud to be digital artists and make the distinction. It would be interesting to explore why many digital photographers are hell bent on removing a distinction, it IS a great medium to work in if that it is the type of image making you enjoy, so why hide?
I beleive there is an article in the current PT about using watercolor papers for ink jet prints, my first thought was..."what took them so long to think about this?" When I saw the ink jet prints at the review I commented this to the people showing them. It was funny to see the "deer in headlight" look and I could just see them thinking, "why didnt I think of that?"...
As to the watercolor PS filter, once again, put the real thing next to the ink jet print and the differences are obvious. My mom is a damm good watercolor painter, not the usual washed out thing, but real vibrant color in them and I can say with no doubt in my mind the brush strokes are too random and the way the pigments spread on the paper also too random to be able to be duplicated by a computer program.
I dont worry about it any longer, I do what I do, if people like it they will buy my prints, if not they wont.