I always found his work horribly pretentious - one of those self-consciously arsty career types who tailored his shots to what the academics were fostering as "different". Most of those SoCal "sensations" of the 60's and 70's have been long forgotten, and deserve to be. Up here,
Misrach was working in the same vein with fits and starts, basically as a starving artist, and slowly hit his stride with a few classic themes
between a series of conspicuous bellyflops. It was an interesting era, regardless. Kinda an academic rebellion against the clean-hued nature
focus and fine printing of the previous generation of dye printers, like Eliot Porter. But new or creative just to be new kinda wears out after awhile. It just becomes the new status quo. Now it's the "redux", reheated in a microwave as far as I'm concerned. But if someone else likes it, fine with me.
Even if I'm not doing conceptual photography, I frequently find inspiration from the purveyors of that genre of photography.
He may be horribly pretentious and a bad colour printer, as alluded to in another post, but I still think the concept of as far as I can get is quite creative. But then that's just me.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Like I said... whatever you like. I often personally enjoy viewing work that has exactly zero influence on my own. And I even partially overlapped sponsorship with same pool of curators back then, though I was more in tune with the classic "West Coast School" of photog of
the central Calif coast, even though my own work was sufficient distinct and almost entirely in color back then. But I had enough of those
curator types at my own dinner table to hear their own jokes about their own profession. What they "have" to do, or are expected to do,
to keep up public interest with the "new" doesn't always jive with their personal taste.
Or perhaps he was just reacting to the times from the perspective of a young artist finding his voice? I would think that at the time of the series he would have been "one of those self-consciously arsty career types." If you're trying to make cutting edge Fine Art, well, you gotta hang it out there pretty far. (There is never a shortage of badly conceived and/or executed Art! I have my own pile...)
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Sure, many of the artists of that period are forgotten, but isn't that always true? Through time only a limited number of works continue to speak.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
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It's absolutely amazing to me how much "cutting edge" stuff all looks the same at a given point in history. Fashion. Just like how all the hippies
back then tried so hard to look different that they all ended up looking the same, or how everyone started wearing grannie glasses when John
Lennon did. Lemmings. No different today, or five hundred years ago. But like I said, there were some things about the "New Color Photography" of the 70's which were quite refreshing and thoughtful. Some of its finest practitioners were bold experimenters, and one can forgive the occasional bellyflop. What I can't forgive is taxpayer's having to pay for some of it.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
I strongly disagree with the action of doing something you dislike, but i am interesting in knowing about this old 'west coast school' of photog kinda deal... and as to the curators, does this not resemble the same thing going on today, people see a trend, then go on search for a similar type of artwork, but there's always someone pushing the envelope.
The are are couple of things to blame. One was when the NEA started doing business via resumes of allegedly creative or novel ideas instead of track records of actual work, and baited a certain kind of predictable behavior pandering to this. Another is the encroachment of the "gotcha" mentality of advertising photography - grab your attention fast, but not necessarily over the long haul. Yet another is the need for museums to attract ticket sales using controversial themes. All a big game as far as I'm concerned, which I don't personally care to play, even though I've had my own fifteen second of fame or whatever at public expense, and have a family history of govt subsidy of art, though
that was art deliberately intended for permanent public installation, and now is in fact all protected by the Natl Historic Register. So gotta be
careful no to be hypocritical. But let's just say that one reason I never chose an official fine arts career (besides not wanting to eat out of
dumpsters), is that I don't really want to pander to anything, either commercial or officially artsified. Don't mind making an extra buck from
time to time; but not having some artificial genre as a ball and chain let's me do what I want to do. The only difference with the "West Coast
School" is that it involved just a handful of people, who did in fact eventually get famous, but otherwise became a tradition emphasizing
actual visible subject matter and excellence in printmaking. I guess the utter opposite of this would be those who download odd's n' ends
off the web and digitally manipulate them into fictitious Fauxtoshop content - what I call Lardassography. Whatevever - I'm not saying it
isn't interesting or thought-provoking in an appropriate venue - I just don't think of it as actual photography.
ps - all this needs a little historic context. "Fine Art" Photography as a potential career path is something relatively new, and largely overlaps
that 70's era when a lot of wild experimentation was being done. We have all kinds of now famous photographers whose work is considered
"art" prior to that, but they nearly all made their living some other way - commercial and fashion photog, teaching, some were independently
wealthy, photojournalism, already successful but painters, etc etc. ... Only things like the FSA during the Depression and Dust Bowl formed a
conspicuous exception, supporting photographers of conspicuous talent at public expense. People like Edward Weston as grant recipients were rare; and even he made his living as a bored studio portrait photographer most of the time. Stock images, particularly of the frontier, civil war, and later, scenics was another career path; but technically, I'd classify that as another branch of commercial photography, though
in a few instances the sheer talent of a few practitioners transcended the ordinary. Yet even today, I regard most of the calendar/postcard/picture book/screensaver crowd as just jugglers of nature as a stereotyped visual commodity. So in the general trend of
the food chain, things just tended to favor those who pushed the Western ideal of modernism to the limit. But things do tend to go around in
circles, and the newest fashions are rarely truly new. Somebody did something analogous long before.