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Author Topic: What is 'fine art photography'?  (Read 143445 times)
Rob C
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« Reply #40 on: June 21, 2008, 03:01:30 PM »
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The initial response to Duchamp's urinoir fountain was ridicule, rejection and negative reviews.  It's a frequent initial response to cutting edge work.  Whether this reaction defines art or not is another question.  Maybe it does.

Let's do Art!
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Trouble is, Alain, I think it is still a pot to piss in, no more and no less. I donīt for a moment accept that because the current establishment changed its position from that of the establishment of Duchampīs time and bowed down to the urinal that that is any confirmation of status.

In fact, is is just another example of the Tateīs bricks. (Cutting-edge is often no more than a sobriquet applied to anything that doesnīt really have a lot to recommend it; how many stock libraries use that word to sell common or garden images that are the same as everybody elseīs; words, words, and more words spoken so quickly as to deceive the ear!)

To accept otherwise is to say that anything that the so-called artist says is art is, by definition, art. Iīm not here calling Duchamp the so-called artist, by the way.

Look, we all have access to Jamesīs recent photographs in the M8 thread. Letīs take two of his shots as examples: the one of the girl up against the building is, to me, photographic art; also, the little picture of the two kids sitting might be in the same category of expression. I donīt for a moment say that James makes any claims for the pics - itīs just my easy example. His other shot of the "Heiress" girl does not, for me, get anywhere near being art. It just looks competent photography, commercial, and says nothing else to me at all. I stress again, James has made no claims to anything - his shots are just easy to find on this site.

[a href=\"http://www.pirellical.com/thecal/home.html]http://www.pirellical.com/thecal/home.html[/url]

Have a look at this link and turn to the Sarah Moon production for 1972. I think she is the only one that has shot the calendar that has turned it into a work of art. Some of the others are red hot photographers, some not so much; but the essence of Moon comes through in everything, as it does in all of the published commercial work of hers that I have seen. Another blessed one for whom work and personal are one and the same.

Rob C
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alainbriot
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« Reply #41 on: June 21, 2008, 03:45:01 PM »
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Rob,

To most people "art" is what they like.

A significant leap forward in understanding art is extending our perception of what art is to things that we do not like, things that we find objectionable or things we have not so far considered art.

That's Duchamps' breakhrough: to challenge our conception of what is and what isn't art, of what art might be.  

One the reason why his pissotiere has remained a challenge for people pondering what is art is because no one so far has provided a satisfying statement about why it is or it is not art.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2008, 03:52:33 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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Rob C
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« Reply #42 on: June 21, 2008, 04:05:13 PM »
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Rob,

To most people "art" is what they like.

An significant leap forward in understanding art is extending our perception of what art is to things that we do not like.
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Yes, of course, Alain but that does not mean that the thing in question doesnīt have to have artistic credentials, at least something to save it from being nothing more than object.

Look, take Gaudi: he broke a hell of a lot of tiles and stuck them on walls. You might say, if you had a mind to, that they remain nothing but broken tiles. But they do not: Gaudi made them into something so much more than the sum of their parts. So well, in fact, that architect after architect has copied him. You could possibly suggest that all Gaudi did was extend the idea of the mosaic, but I think that would be a miserable thing to think: he added value.

As with the Moon Pirelli, which I think is art. Giacobetti comes close, fairly groundbreaking work in what I believe the French call charme photography, at least for its day - but I donīt think it is art. But I do like it very much, so to go back to your post, how does that square with the understanding of art if I canīt define something that I like very much as art?

I understand that I am not "most people" as in your post, but I do accept many things as art without liking them in the least. I donīt like Gauguin much but I do accept him as an important artist; I do love Van Gogh without really thinking him to be in any way as great or accomplished an artist as he is a personality; without his pain he would not have been so highy rated in retrospect. The examples could go on all night -itīs 23 hrs. in Mallorca right now and Iīm up at 7.30 in the morning to get to the market do buy provisions for the week.

Buenas noches - Rob C
« Last Edit: June 22, 2008, 11:41:30 AM by Rob C » Logged

alainbriot
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« Reply #43 on: June 21, 2008, 04:12:02 PM »
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Yes, of course, Alain but that does not mean that the thing in question doesnīt have to have artistic credentials, at least something to save it from being nothing more than object.
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Another leap of art asked by the surrealist and modern art movements is extending the concept of art to things that we previously considered objects.

In that sense the definition of art, if there can ever be one, has to be understood in the context of a specific art movement.  Prior to Duchamps a urinoir was a urinoir.  After Duchamps, we argue whether it is art or oject or both !

Now Magritte made the problem worse by using this quandary as title for one of his paintings: Ceci n'est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe). . .


[a href=\"http://blog.notanendive.org/public/pas_une_pipe.jpg]Ceci n'est pas une Pipe - Henri Magritte[/url]
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Alain Briot
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #44 on: June 21, 2008, 07:12:13 PM »
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I am also a little worried about the second concept, that no medium is intrinsically art: if not art, what is painting, ballet, opera or any other such endeavour where art is its sole reason for being? It might not be good art, possibly will be poor art, but isnīt it art nonetheless?

Rob C
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I stand by my statement that no medium is intrinsically art; how can it be otherwise since the intent of the work's creator is part of the whole art 'thing'?

Painting - anyone can paint, including  monkeys.
Ballet, Opera etc can be just entertainment.

All of these can be art, as can photography, but the medium does not make them so.
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Rob C
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« Reply #45 on: June 22, 2008, 11:44:41 AM »
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I stand by my statement that no medium is intrinsically art; how can it be otherwise since the intent of the work's creator is part of the whole art 'thing'?

Painting - anyone can paint, including  monkeys.
Ballet, Opera etc can be just entertainment.

All of these can be art, as can photography, but the medium does not make them so.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=202754\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

So, how would you guess the monkeyīs intent in order to justify its efforts as being or not being art; since when does art not have the right to entertain?

Rob C
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John Camp
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« Reply #46 on: June 22, 2008, 12:48:43 PM »
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This may be an article of interest:

http://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=b24...95-a5b031d003c5

My view of Duchamps is that he's just another one of those peculiarly French philosophers who comes along every once in a while and manages to promote a sophomoric concept into a revenue-producing job. And when I say sophomoric, I mean that literally: what young liberal arts major hasn't dipped into the question of what is, and what is not art, what is, and what is not reality, etc.?

As for not being able to say whether a urinal is or is not art, well, a lot of people have said that it isn't (or is); it's just that the critical/professional establishment prefers to keep the answer ambiguous, as a way of Sticking It to the Man (even though, as in the commercial, they are the Man.)

The question Duchamps never answered is that if his urinal is art, is a second identical urinal also art? How about the 30th?  Try to sell the 3000th identical urinal as art in a gallery and you'll soon find out how much this art is worth -- as much as a urinal is. Maybe even less, since people who are actually shopping for urinals don't usually go to art galleries.

DuChamps and his intellectual descendants are just more 20th century silliness. They'll soon be cleaned up by history.

JC
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ChrisS
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« Reply #47 on: June 22, 2008, 01:54:28 PM »
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There's little argument in the art world that would suggest that Duchamp's readymades aren't important to the history of art, whether we like it or not. I think the danger with this line of argument is that we replace the 'what is art?' question with the 'but is it art?' question. In the end, I don't think either will produce an adequate answer.

Remember, the question was how the term 'fine art photography' is used on this site.

Maybe an interesting/ fun way forward is this: given all that has been said previously in this thread, can people suggest ONE criterion according to which they think a photograph might be judged to be a work of fine art? Maybe post/ link to an example? I need to think what mine would be...
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ChrisS
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« Reply #48 on: June 22, 2008, 02:35:13 PM »
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OK, I've thought about it. I think it's better to put the work first - mine's one by Richard Billingham - see

http://www.bbc.co.uk/photography/genius/ga...illingham.shtml

and I'd say it's 'fine art photography' because it challenges the conventions of 'high art' by depicting a truth of working-class experience (as opposed to romanticising or aestheticising that experience, which has happened so much in the history of art) and exhibiting it in a 'high art' context - the art gallery.

So, I think it's a photograph that constitutes important art.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2008, 02:36:00 PM by ChrisS » Logged
alainbriot
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« Reply #49 on: June 22, 2008, 03:16:46 PM »
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Chris,

Excellent example :-)
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Alain Briot
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Rob C
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« Reply #50 on: June 22, 2008, 03:45:47 PM »
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Chris, you are just playing devilīs advocate!

You know perfectly well that there is no intrinsic artiness to, well, the sort of lifestyle depicted in the Billingham oevre. It is neither representative of working class nor of anything other than the B family; the fact that the BBC has chosen to have anything to do with it sounds alarm bells by itself! Just more nonsense from Notting Hill.

I also watched the entire set of programmes. I thought that they were both interesting and also very misleading, but thatīs another thing a little bit off-topic, just as is all the Thatcher bashing which seems de rigueur in such programmes. Why does it fall to the left-wing lot to run so much in the art world? It seems a supreme irony: the right-wing people take the debris left by the just-voted-out-of office socialists, re-create some wealth which takes the country off the sick-list just in time to be voted out again, to be replaced once more by the socialists who instantly squander that wealth and run the place back into the ground once more! As now.

On a personal and professional photography level, I can remember how it was in the time of Wilson and Callaghan: when you wrote a quotation for a job, you had to end it with "final price dependent on rate of inflation at time of invoice." Fun, that, pricing calendars in February for a shoot in June for a calendar delivered and invoiced in December! But then, thatīs the trouble with left-wing idealists: they mostly know how to spend other peopleīs money! However, some are also very good at making it out of politics, though I suspect they hang on to it; re-distribution of wealth?

But is the work art? Not to me. Not even good photography. But then, I never took to Martin Parrīs work either: brash technique, cruel and devoid of charm, in my opinion. But still sells well.

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 09:46:17 AM by Rob C » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #51 on: June 22, 2008, 04:08:59 PM »
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This may be an article of interest:

http://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=b24...95-a5b031d003c5

My view of Duchamps is that he's just another one of those peculiarly French philosophers who comes along every once in a while and manages to promote a sophomoric concept into a revenue-producing job. And when I say sophomoric, I mean that literally: what young liberal arts major hasn't dipped into the question of what is, and what is not art, what is, and what is not reality, etc.?

As for not being able to say whether a urinal is or is not art, well, a lot of people have said that it isn't (or is); it's just that the critical/professional establishment prefers to keep the answer ambiguous, as a way of Sticking It to the Man (even though, as in the commercial, they are the Man.)

The question Duchamps never answered is that if his urinal is art, is a second identical urinal also art? How about the 30th?  Try to sell the 3000th identical urinal as art in a gallery and you'll soon find out how much this art is worth -- as much as a urinal is. Maybe even less, since people who are actually shopping for urinals don't usually go to art galleries.

DuChamps and his intellectual descendants are just more 20th century silliness. They'll soon be cleaned up by history.

JC
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John

Thanks for the link to the Jed Perl article. I think he has said more than I could say given a thousand years and unlimited keyboards! Thanks very much - it should be required reading for many on this forum.

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 22, 2008, 04:09:52 PM by Rob C » Logged

Nick Rains
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« Reply #52 on: June 22, 2008, 06:13:23 PM »
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So, how would you guess the monkeyīs intent in order to justify its efforts as being or not being art; since when does art not have the right to entertain?

Rob C
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C'mon Rob C, you know what I'm getting at.

Monkeys aside, art can entertain, entertainment can be art. The two are not really connected - a created work can be one, the other or both.

Nevertheless, no medium has some a priori mystical quality that we call art. The person who works with the medium makes it art - or not. Can you name a medium which would be considered art simply by the fact of its existence?

Regarding 'Genius of Photography'  which was fascinating viewing, I agree with you about Robert Billingham. Whilst I can see how this could be seen as art, personally I detest that grungy 'snapshot' style. Call me blinkered but I like my art to have at least some element of craft too...check out Crewdson, his stuff is much more like my idea of fine art photography.
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ChrisS
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« Reply #53 on: June 23, 2008, 01:35:54 AM »
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Perhaps a better way to work toward an understanding of what we mean by fine art photography is to work toward it negatively.

I can see that the technical manner of the Billingham photograph is at odds with the kind of photography that most people who contribute to this site are interested in.

Could we then agree that the term 'fine art photography' as used on this site won't include photography that is deliberately technically very limited? It doesn't mean that if it is unaccomplished technically, it isn't important art - just that it's not the kind of art to which LL attends. (One thing that brought me to this site, and continues to amaze me, is the high degree of technical and craft-based expertise available on this site - incredible.)

So, IF we can agree on that (!), how about another form of photograph that we can exclude? What else is NOT fine art photography as the term's used on this site? (Perhaps link to an example?)
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« Reply #54 on: June 23, 2008, 05:53:38 AM »
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Perhaps a better way to work toward an understanding of what we mean by fine art photography is to work toward it negatively.

I can see that the technical manner of the Billingham photograph is at odds with the kind of photography that most people who contribute to this site are interested in.

Could we then agree that the term 'fine art photography' as used on this site won't include photography that is deliberately technically very limited? It doesn't mean that if it is unaccomplished technically, it isn't important art - just that it's not the kind of art to which LL attends. (One thing that brought me to this site, and continues to amaze me, is the high degree of technical and craft-based expertise available on this site - incredible.)

So, IF we can agree on that (!), how about another form of photograph that we can exclude? What else is NOT fine art photography as the term's used on this site? (Perhaps link to an example?)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=202977\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I'm not sure that is meaningful really - the thread category is 'But is it Art? after all...

There is a quote from a judge from years ago, discussing pornography, something like " I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it". This relates to this discussion - everyone has their own ideas of what sits comfortably in their personal concept of art. There can be no right answer but discussing it  in forums like this does assist in refining one's own opinions.
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Nick Rains
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Rob C
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« Reply #55 on: June 23, 2008, 09:45:40 AM »
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Quote from: Nick Rains,Jun 22 2008, 11:13 PM
Can you name a medium which would be considered art simply by the fact of its existence?
 

Seduction?

Rob C
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #56 on: June 23, 2008, 05:21:54 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C,Jun 23 2008, 02:45 PM
Quote from: Nick Rains,Jun 22 2008, 11:13 PM
Can you name a medium which would be considered art simply by the fact of its existence?
 

Seduction?

Rob C
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LOL, good one - but seriously, can you?
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #57 on: June 23, 2008, 11:34:09 PM »
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Such a nice thread :-)

I believe that the definition of fine art should be followed out of conventions since this is such a subjective matter that there's just not enough alcohol in the world to discuss it all to the appropriate extent ;-) But if you wanna try, please give me a call!

Even though a work of art should be named as "fine" by the artist itself, there are some cases where art is simply created on the eye of the beholder. For instance, the famous Eugčne Atget created random pictures of Paris to put food on the table and later was considered to be one of the fathers of Surrealism. What happened?

So much for analogies, but is good wine the wine that everybody tells you is good because it's famous and expensive or is it the wine that you simply drink and enjoy?

Regards,
Luis
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Rob C
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« Reply #58 on: June 24, 2008, 09:57:46 AM »
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LOL, good one - but seriously, can you?
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But Nick, I am serious Ą!

The only problem with it is that it may fade with age... probably much like a print exposed to the wrong light. Curling at the edges may also become a problem, but the less thinking about that the better. Live for the moment; enjoy your art.

Rob C
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« Reply #59 on: June 24, 2008, 05:06:10 PM »
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Live for the moment; enjoy your art.

Rob C
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That's as good a bit of advice as any...

but I'm still convinced I need 16 bit capture to get 0.3deltaV better shadows before my art will be taken seriously...

   
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Nick Rains
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