Quote Originally Posted by iandavid View Post
So, even assuming this dictionary definition, why is photography that is directed solely at portraying beauty necessarily pretentious? Why must it only be "craft"? (I am happy to draw a distinction between art and craft, although I think good craft is almost always part of good art.) If a photographer can present a subject that is not often seen, or in a way that it is not often seen, and show you the beauty of it, that seems like something that might legitimately be called art, no?
There we are.
The thing with "fine art" is that it does not present a subject, besides being pretty.
(Yes, yes: there always is a subject. A photograph is always a photograph of something.
But in fine art that something does not matter. All it needs to be is pretty. That - being pretty - is all of its subject).

People may like that. And that's fine of course.
But it does not make it real 'legitimate' art. And that is because, despite concepts perhaps being slippery, art clearly is a different thing.

Art, even good art, need not necessarily involve a statement beyond "Behold the beauty here that you have never noticed before". To do this well often requires some vision, beyond mere craft. Of course, what amounts to beauty anyway is a further can of worms again.
Yes it does.

Art is part of (let us for simplicity's sake call it: ) the Great Discourse.
Culture, civilisation, or whatever you may want to call it, is nothing but all of us communicating, sharing, agreeing and disagreeing, etc. And that all with intent and purpose, with meaning (in every sense imaginable).
There are many ways in which we can do that. One of them (as if it is thing with clear distinctions; it of course is not) is "art".

Take away the communication bit, the statement, and it is pure form. Without any relevance.

There is a catch, of course. Another level.
Reducing things to pure form can also be statement, also be part of the Great Discourse.

And that applies to fine art as well.
It seeking approval of the "migh, isn't that pretty!" kind can be a relevant statement at some point in the Great Discourse.
The subject then can be the lack of 'subject' in much of what we do, exemplified in and by fine art. It itself is then the subject matter of art.

But without this second level, without it being 'meta fine art', it is as much "art" as someone telling his of her neighbour that they really like what they did to their front room.
Relevant too (it obviously serves a definite purpose in the communication between neighbours). But definitely not something anyone would need take note of.

And that's where the pretense is: fine art photography is visual decoration with the pretense of being something more. The pretense of having substance. The pretense of being relevant.

(Which, of course, also applies to much of what aspires to be 'true art'. Being art doesn't necessarily mean it is good art, and not just the pretense of being good art.)

I completely agree with the separation between art and craft.
Craft is our ability to do something.
That something is (or should be) instrumental to our intents and purposes, and mastery of the craft to the degree required by what we want to do with it is, of course, uhm... required.

Here too lies a clear distinction between art and fine art.
In art, all you need is to be able to do what you want to do. That defines the level of craft required.
In fine art, the level of craft is goal in itself. No longer a thing required to be able to do something else.

So an artist does not need to be a complete master of craft. A "fine art"ist must.