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Thread: Paul Strand

  1. #11
    Bob F.'s Avatar
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    Excuse I? Adams was a pictorialist??? Adams and the rest of Group f/64 were arch anti-pictorialists and roundly criticized for the fact, then and now...

    Bob.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Is denigration of Ansel Adams a rite of passage to some higher plane of photographic existence? I'm a mere mortal & continue to admire him for his work, what he accomplished given the state of the craft, and his commitment to the environment. The level of work of Strand, Minor White, the Westons and Adams are still far beyond my grasp.
    I don't think that it is a matter of denigration to be realistic about the type of work that Adams produced...about the only thing that Adams did to move away from the pictorialistic influence, and his personal output attests to this, was to move to a sharper focused image and having everything within the image sharply focused. Now some of his work produced in New Mexico was probably his best work. His work produced in Yosemite was a pictorialistic as anything that I have ever seen. For the most part, he did not move very far from his pictorialistic roots.


    Now if his type of photography is moving to someone, so be it...However for myself and for a number of others, it seems that we don't find his work to be as moving as it once was.

  3. #13

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    Before this becomes a rant about the failings of AA, let me thank Dave Wooten for his background info. I too have wondered what was in those Strand negs that made AA change his approach, and now I think I understand - it wasn't so much that there was something "magical" about Strands negs, it was just that they were in sharp focus, probably very full-scale, with tons of detail. Hey, I would give a couple days' pay to see one of those negatives in person.

    And about AA, I think he's misunderstood all around. Most critics agree he was not a real mover and shaker in the "art" sense of photography. But he contributed a vast storehouse of knowledge to the medium. Plus, he was a hell of a great printer. And it doesn't hurt that he was instrumental in getting some of the national parks established by virtue of the power of his nature images.
    Robert Hunt

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Is denigration of Ansel Adams a rite of passage to some higher plane of photographic existence? I'm a mere mortal & continue to admire him for his work, what he accomplished given the state of the craft, and his commitment to the environment. The level of work of Strand, Minor White, the Westons and Adams are still far beyond my grasp.
    Probably because he got a hell of a lot of press and his name is invoked far more than any other photographer.
    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

  5. #15
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3
    Too bad he never did it.

    Meh. Photography as conceived by the f/64 type of people was supposed to be a way to create a language that's indigenous to photo, besides getting away with the 19th C fluff; but in the end they borrowed heavily from cubist art (as evidenced by Stieglitz himself), so they more or less displaced one sort of painting for another as their aesthetics referent. Surprising thing is that when you look at more "modern" or even "post-modern" photography, we see a lot of that pictorialist approach coming back: fuzziness, grain, diaphane textures, classical composition.

    I think the best thing I read so far on looking at what could be different between photography and painting/drawing is an article in this month's Harper's about David Hockney. The guy spent most of his time recently showing the influence of camera obscura and optics in general on Renaissance painting, and he shows the difference between a camera-based drawing and an sketch by Rembrandt of a similar subject made with only direct observation. The biggest difference lies in the fact that Rembrandt's drawing is drawn with the mind, so to speak: the representation of contours is eschewed for a more symbolic way of rendering objects. Instead of drawing the contours of leaves, Rembrandt draws a tight zig-zaging line suggesting the tree foliage, rather than showing it*.

    So painting had to borrow from optically formed images; in the end, early photography was maybe only copying itself. Trying to make very clear cut distinctions between the art of photography and the art of drawing is not so easy: I believe one should rather distinguish between the optical approach and the symbolic approach to representation.





    * Of course, like any big talker, Hockney shoots himself in the foot: the article is illustrated with his aquarelles--that he did because he was tired of "seeing" in a photographic way--that have heavy optical effects, and are not the least "drawn with the mind". Sheesh.

  6. #16
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    Bob F.,

    I really like your castleriggs photos!

    It is interesting also that in Ansel's first show Parmalian Prints of the High Sierras, the name Parmalian was used to deliberately obscure the fact that what was being shown was in fact photographs!

    Another interesting note...we often feel for some reason we have to justify photography as art.....

    Jan issue of "Art in America" mentioned above in addition to the excellent article on Adams, contains an article by Eleanor Heartney, "The Forensic Eye" on Sallly Mann.....is there any discussion out there on this article?

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3
    I mean that it's too bad he never cast off Pictorialism to become a modernist photographer. Ansel Adams is to photography what Albert Bierstadt is to painting.
    Depends on your definition of pictorialism, and on how you view/interpret Adams' work. To each his own, but IMO, I totally disagree.
    Honey, I promise no more searching eBay for cameras.

  8. #18
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    Photography as conceived by the f/64 type of people was supposed to be a way to create a language that's indigenous to photo, besides getting away with the 19th C fluff; but in the end they borrowed heavily from cubist art (as evidenced by Stieglitz himself), so they more or less displaced one sort of painting for another as their aesthetics referent.
    "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal"....who said that? Picasso. (Funny isn't it, how he *invented* cubism after seeing West African masks for the first time).

    Artists are a continuation of all that has preceded them, that's why we should try to look at Ansel's work in a historical context and compare his work to his peers. It's unfair to judge his work against the work of modern photographers...they hit the ground running at the beginning of their careers with total access to all the technical knowledge Ansel had to assemble/discover on his own. They also can stand on the shoulders of all the artists since Ansel.

    Murray

  9. #19

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    Dave
    Thank you for relevant information.
    sergio caetano

  10. #20
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    Your'e welcome,

    Of interest is to google "Carlton Watkins" then go to history of Yosemite.....there are many photos on line Carlton took in Yosemite in the 1860's !!! 80 years before Adams. Using glass plates and ULF cameras (18 x 24 I believe), of interest is Carlton's "Entrance to Yosemite"

    Adams did a beautiful rendition of this...maybe called Clearing Storm, one of my favorite Adams photographs, I have it on a brass quintet album cover (vinyl) ....it is interesting to see the same scene nearly 100 yrs later, by Adams!

    Possibly, Adams was able to view these remarkable Carlton images. They are archived in Yosemite. Ansel's father in law was a painter and worked and sold his paintings in Yosemite.....

    historical observations are not criticisms, it is often only after the passage of time that we can somewhat be able to place historical contributions and study influences on and by various artists...

    Personally, It was upon viewing Adams photography in the late 60's while in college and doing 35mm street photography in Chicago, that I became interested in large format and Weston, O'Keefe, Stieglitz, et al. I do have original Adams prints in my home......I also wish I had one of those Weston Peppers or a Watkins, or a Rodchenko, Steichen, Atget, Riis, Hine, Evans, even Demachy, and on and on, all a place in history....not a saint among them.

    Check out Carlton Watkins he is the pioneer photographer of a pristine Yosemite.

    Cheers
    Dave in Vegas

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