Hrm. You might have hit on something there.
Originally Posted by Early Riser
Perchance that instead of being a symptom, however, maybe the images (and the bombardment thereof) are a cause and the effect ends up being a retreat towards images that aren't so psychologically invasive (eg, advertisement, fetish, hardcore social documentary work, etc)?
If so, do you think a push towards minimalism would be the counterbalance? Seems like it'd be perfect -- calming, engaging and beautiful yet not mundane and posessing a higher level of artistic merit.
As a minimalist I certainly hope so!!! I can only speak of my own personal experience. I know from my own shows that the general public appreciates minimal landscape or still life. However for museum curators, they do not get recognition for putting on minimal, beautiful shows, they get far more recognition and press when they put on a show that is controversial. The reality is that mundane work draws more controversy than simple beautiful photographs. When people walk into a museum and they see beauty, there's no controversy, when they walk into a museum and see work they consider boring and mediocre, work they themselves could do or would even consider poor quality photography, it's controversy. Controversy gets people to wait in line.
Originally Posted by zenrhino
Im not entirely sure that in a world that has seen Mapplethorpe's hand up a guy's butt, a cruficix in urine and the like that people sitting on a bed staring off into an uncertain future (with or without Spanish Flu ) would be considered controversial. Seems to me that would be like being "internet famous" -- meaningful only to other art-world satellites. Even given the vagaries of fashion/trends/who's hot this week/etc if the raison d'etre of a gallery is to sell art, I'd think they'd want to put up art that people would like to see rather than something cerebral.
Originally Posted by Early Riser
Maybe we need to look backwards one notch -- what was the movement before the Yalies took over? What is contemporary photography reacting to? Sadly, my art history was of the boring undergrad "art in the dark" variety, so I'm having to lean on you here a bit. The only theory I can rattle around is that maybe its an extention of the Eggleston aesthetic?
Speaking of minimalism, can you shoot me the names of 3 or 4 of the big dogs in that genre? After looking at your stuff, Im curious to see how the aesthetic evolved.
This is one of the most intelligent threads I've read here in a long time. Brian said something which really resonated with me, that people today are "overstimulated and ultimately insensitized". If one were to show Weston's pepper #30 to the average 20-something today, I doubt it would have anywhere near the impact it must have had on people in 1930. My own childhood lacked video games, 200 cable channels, cell phones and the Internet, leaving me sensitive to things that would probably be ignored by the average Gen Y kid today. Does this mean these kids are more sophisticated and progressive than we were, or are they simply jaded and disaffected? Either way, I can't help but wonder how important the universality of a photograph is to its success. If contemporary photographers create a body of work which mostly appeals to gallery owners, curators and collectors, then what can be said if it fails to capture the hearts and minds of ordinary people? Is "good art" only the stuff that connects with the Guggenheim selection committee and the galleries in Chelsea?
I ask the question - "what is contemporary photography"?
And a damned fine question it is!
Originally Posted by skillian
When we asked George Slade (artistic director of MnCP) one night in my advanced photo class at MCAD, he presented us with this:
Critical Mass (run by Photo Lucidia) is a snapshot (pardon the pun) of the zeitgeist in contemporary photography. Take a gander through there -- there's everything from straight documentarianism to Yale-ish narrative portraiture to pictorialism that would make Mortenson blush to art in other media that just happen to have been shot with a camera.
Unfortunately, if your question is "what is cool and wow in fine art photography right now?" I don't have the answer. Give me a week to roam Nordeast (the art district in Minneapolis) and I can come up with an answer but not off the top of my head. An artist (or better yet -- a curator!) would be much better suited to answer that sort of question.
Having given that pathetic disclaimer, I think its safe to say the Yalies and narrative portraitists have the spotlight right now and good for them! People seem to be responding (for better or worse) to shots of ordinary people taken on Portra NC, whether they're the work of Hilliard, Deutsch, Strassheim, etc.
But there's plenty more out there. Ansley Simmons (an MFA holder and PhD candidate at Florida State) does some beautiful historicism that really blurs the line between fine art and documentarianism. A cursory look around the internet will show that figure studies are alive and well despite the thoroughness of examination that Weston, Cunningham, etc. have given the genre. If I could find a size 14 model, I'd be doing the "Dove Girl" version of figure studies.
If you want a truly up to the femtosecond look at current photography (and I mean the good, the bad and the d*gital shots of cats), check out the interestingness stream at Flickr or the hall of fame list at photoblogs.org. It may not be art school (but in some cases, it may be!) calibre stuff, but it is a truly up to the moment look at what, where and how people are shooting photos.
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Originally Posted by billschwab
From what I can recall from the art history classes I didn't sleep through, Minimalism was originally a movement in Europe in the 1920's and 30's which I think centered more on design and architecture, the whole Mies Van de Rohe "less is more" thing. There was a revival of minimalism in painting in the US in the 50's or 60's, I think Ellsworth Kelly was one of the bigger painters in that style. In photography I think one of the more notable contemporary minimalist photographers is Michael Kenna, although I don't know if he considers himself one. Currently minimal photography is quite popular among landscape photographers. My own work, even in my teens was already minimal, maybe because I started as a sculptor, but after 25 years of shooting single objects on white backgrounds I guess I was locked into a minimal style.
I credit (blame?) Eggleston for a lot of the mundane type of work. At first glance I thought Soth's photo was an Eggleston. So that makes me also wonder how cutting edge this style is given that it has it's roots in the 60's. I don't know how much impact the "yalies" had in the course of photographic style.
Weston's pepper brings me back to one of my first photo assignments while a student at School of Visual Arts in the 70's. My class was assigned to photograph a pepper. Almost everyone went out and tried their best to do a Weston pepper. I thought that didn't make sense because it had been done before and there was already a huge benchmark assigned to it, it was a stereotype already. I thought I would do something different. So I blew them up, literally. I photographed them outdoors at night, because I thought an expoding pepper would look better against a dark background and all photo students like to shoot against black. I had to do it outdoors because exploding fireworks in the apartment was frowned upon, even in the name of art and my education.
I thought I had produced a photo that literally blew away the Weston clones. For my efforts it only got a B. While my instructor was impressed with my concept, it's originality, my execution could have been better. I realized then, that in order for a photo to be really good, it has to have a good concept and good execution. The problem I have with most of the new stuff I see is that it's usually obscure concept and no execution.
Hey... I'm a Detroit boy...born and bred. Compared to the MC5 and Stooges that I cut my teeth on... Triumph is easy listening! I'll give you Rush though. 2112 never left my turntable the whole year of 10th grade.
Originally Posted by zenrhino
Last edited by billschwab; 10-23-2006 at 01:58 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Too many isms in this world. I don't know where to start.
As for the mundane, I would think Diane Arbus would be the prime candidate in this ism catagorie. Though I read somewhere that putting a camera in her hand was the same as a handgrenade. Did the mundane drive her to suicide, or what did?
Look at George Tice's book, "Urban Landscapes," all images of NJ, about as mundane a place as you can get. Yet he saw designs and patterns in aluminum sided raised ranches and bus station bathrooms, with an 8x10!
Personally, I never attended any art classes, except in grade school. I always questioned the benefits of formal art education and the amount of influence it can have on the individual style of the artist. Either delaying its emergence or destroying it all together. To many isms maybe that can act as a straight jacket.
I took Photo 1 and 2 junior and senior year in college. Here is the first real photograph I ever made, my junior year:
Last edited by RAP; 10-23-2006 at 12:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
Minimalism came out of New york in the early 60s as a reaction to Abstract Expressionism. Minimalism is art stripped of all symbolism, metaphor, and multiple meanings. Think Samuel Beckett for plays and john Cage for music.
Originally Posted by zenrhino
The big names in the art world in the 60s were Donald Judd, Ad Reinhardt, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Frank Stella. The idea was more is less, less is more. Minimalist art is about paring down untill you end up with the final irreducible components of the piece.
For photographers David Fokos and Richard Misrach come to mind off the top of my head. I think Michael Kenna has a lot of work, especially his Japan images that are minimalist in nature. Look at Bill Schwab's web site. Quite a bit of Bill's work fits the tennant of "less is more".
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"