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Author Topic: Fine Art Photography Top 16  (Read 22277 times)
John Camp
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« Reply #60 on: January 08, 2012, 02:30:27 AM »
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After you scrape away all of the bullshit, there exists such a thing as fine art (as opposed to graphic design and craft) and there's a remarkable consensus as to what it is, in the case of any specific artist. Rembrandt, yes, Leroy Neiman, no. Just because you can't precisely define something, doesn't mean that it doesn't  exist. The problem is, the consensus takes a while to form, and many people who consider themselves fine artists, and who are considered fine artists by their contemporaries, are later often demoted to something else in the eyes of posterity. That will be what happens, IMHO, to such as Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst, and even such luminaries as Richard Serra, although I won't be around to see it. I read somewhere that there were 25,000 practicing artists in Paris during the Impressionist era, and we remember a few dozen of them now, if that many.

One key to fine art is that the artist does it because he is driven to it because of a particular kind of vision; he's not responding to a market. That gives his art a particular and discernible kind of honesty, even when other observers think what he is doing is crap (as with the early Van Gogh.) Whether or not Alain Briot's photography is now or ever considered fine art remains to be seen, but his very business-like approach to sales and marketing suggests to me it might not be (no offense intended; it's very skillful photography indeed.) The problem is, the content of his photography is not entirely inner-directed; it is also market-directed, and that's one thing that traditionally, fine art was not, and, indeed, can't be.

I've argued before that I can't think of a single famous fine-art photograph whose real, distinguishing characteristic is resolution, or focus, or technique. It's always something else. Avadon's bee boy was beautifully exposed and printed, but it's the boy and the bees who make the work, not the exposure. That makes the argument that you need layers in Photoshop somewhat suspect...

JC




 
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Rob C
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« Reply #61 on: January 08, 2012, 03:29:21 AM »
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John -

Can't accept that Avedon would have been limited by PS usage, bees or no bees. PS is only a means to an end, not necessarily what defines that end, though it can be, if so desired.

As for responding to a market - isn't non-business-related photography but another facet of creating/reinforcing the personal myth that leads to continued commercial success for someone in the Avedon bracket, hence a real response to the market?

I think that the entire creative business, and not just the commercial side of it, is so complex, convoluted and personal that any sweeping judgements are bound to failure if ony because of the ever-present fact of conflicting case histories.

As for contemporary star artists - not many around on my radar, at least. Maybe one does indeed need to be dead before any valid evaluation can be made.

Rob C
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #62 on: January 08, 2012, 01:09:30 PM »
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I think we need to frame this in what Alan has found that works for him. Some, like being proficient in your process, technical skill, is well known. But his point of view is in regard to his type of photography--I also do documentary work and standing around contemplating the scene is not possible, you need to work fast sometimes. And you need to develop the skills to compose fast.

I do take one exception to his points that the photograph should represent your feelings of a place--I hope not as during the sun rise I feel really $h177y that early in the morning. But also photography is not just putting your emotions of something in the image, but trying to understand and reflect the subject to some point. The is a lot of sentimental photography which is just the projection of feeling/ego of the photographer and it tends to be fairly dull.
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John R Smith
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« Reply #63 on: January 08, 2012, 01:17:13 PM »
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I've argued before that I can't think of a single famous fine-art photograph whose real, distinguishing characteristic is resolution, or focus, or technique. It's always something else. Avadon's bee boy was beautifully exposed and printed, but it's the boy and the bees who make the work, not the exposure. That makes the argument that you need layers in Photoshop somewhat suspect.

How true. Even when we think of a photographer like Adams, whose technique was elevated to a very high plane, what we remember is not the exposure, or the development of the negative, or the fine printing skills, but the picture. However, he could not have taken "Moonrise" without a profound understanding of light and exposure. And he could not have printed "Clearing Winter Storm" without very skilful burning and dodging - the equivalent of layers in Photoshop. With any great artist, technique is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

John
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #64 on: January 08, 2012, 01:23:01 PM »
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One key to fine art is that the artist does it because he is driven to it because of a particular kind of vision; he's not responding to a market.

Which is why Michelangelo was a commercial artist/graphic designer and not a Fine Artist.
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Rob C
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« Reply #65 on: January 08, 2012, 02:47:39 PM »
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Which is why Michelangelo was a commercial artist/graphic designer and not a Fine Artist.

Says it all!

Rob C
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OldRoy
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« Reply #66 on: January 09, 2012, 06:46:06 AM »
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Says it all!

Rob C
What it says is that since Michelangelo's time both the means and opportunities for producing "art" - but more significantly the market for it, have all grown exponentially. In consequence we're able to differentiate motives for its production and to discern a range of flavours which didn't exist then.
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Rob C
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« Reply #67 on: January 09, 2012, 11:16:42 AM »
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What it says is that since Michelangelo's time both the means and opportunities for producing "art" - but more significantly the market for it, have all grown exponentially. In consequence we're able to differentiate motives for its production and to discern a range of flavours which didn't exist then.
Roy



Yes, the market has grown to include the plebs, but that doesn't mean that money-for-art is any more new, and the purity of the artist's soul any the more or the less suspect! That the art menu today is a longer one doesn't change a thing. Frankly, I believe they were as crazy then (artists) as they are today. They've simply always had to be.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #68 on: January 09, 2012, 12:56:42 PM »
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... the purity of the artist's soul ...

The reasoning presented by theguywitha645d is broken because it is anachronistic.

When Gombrich began The Story of Art (1950) with "There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists." - "What [he] meant, of course, was that the word 'art' has meant different things at different times."


Similarly, the phrase "Fine Art" is dragged in from the 19th century distinction with factory production.

"The strong ideological separation between a fine artist, whose works were considered to be autonomous, and an applied artist, who was merely a servant of industry, was eroded with the formation of the Arts and Crafts movement ... and artists subsequently worked together to bring about a unity of fine and applied arts."

Contemporary artists don't seem to use the term "Fine Art" because, of course, they are "Contemporary" ;-)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 01:49:12 PM by Isaac » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #69 on: January 09, 2012, 12:58:08 PM »
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Which is why Michelangelo was a commercial artist/graphic designer and not a Fine Artist.

Every time somebody says that fine artists work from a vision and not for commercial purposes, somebody else trots out the old saw that Michelangelo worked on assignment and therefore was a commercial artist. Excuse me, but that's so dumb that it gives me a headache; the only real cure is to read some actual art history.

If you told Ansel Adams that you'd like to buy a landscape photo, you *could* get a piece of art, or you *could* get an assignment photo. If you told him to meet you on Wednesday morning to take a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, with you standing in the foreground waving at the camera, neither Ansel or you would consider the shot to be art. If you want an Ansel Adams art photo, then you would buy a well-considered piece of work that he did on his own time, with his own vision. Either procedure is possible, but the outcome is different. When the pope hired Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he wasn't hiring a paper hanger -- he was hiring a guy who'd put his own vision up there, and that's what Michelangelo did, to the pope's sometimes great frustration.

When a patron hired one of these guys to do a "theme" painting, they were hiring him for his art, not to produce a cartoon. Sometimes, even *often* with people like Caravaggio, what the artist produced was not what the patron wanted, and the painting was rejected. In other words, if you hire an artist for his vision, you may get fine art. If you tell an artist specifically what to do, then you're an art director, and you get craft. Nothing at all wrong with craft, it just isn't fine art.

JC  
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Isaac
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« Reply #70 on: January 09, 2012, 02:35:53 PM »
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One key to fine art is that the artist does it because he is driven to it because of a particular kind of vision; he's not responding to a market. That gives his art a particular and discernible kind of honesty, even when other observers think what he is doing is crap (as with the early Van Gogh.)

"A lot of artists are producing what is known as Saatchi art... you know it's Saatchi art because it's one-off shockers. And these artists are getting cynical. Some of them with works already in his collection produce half-hearted crap knowing he'll take it off their hands. And he does."

Chris Ofili cited by Joanna Pitman, in The Times, 23 September 1997.


... the only real cure is to read some actual art history.

Couldn't we stick to photography and photographers?

"Photographers, when you get accosted by painters who, in their innocence, revive that tiresome old argument that Photography is not an art (which is true), reply that Painting is not an art. This last is also true.
Painting and photography, sculpture and photography, pottery and photography are only media, vehicles, pushmobiles, laundry chutes that get an intangible something from one unfindable part of one man to an unlocatable part of another person. And the ineffable something is not art because to name it implies that art is an object, or a thing, or a biscuit, or a building that can be moved about and grasped with the hands. As many have said there is no art, only artists. Every creative photographer has to find out for himself that it's the man behind the camera that is the artist, or not -- wearisome as this may be to those who have gone through the process."

Minor White, from “That Old Question Again,” Aperture vol. 7, no. 1, 1959
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #71 on: January 09, 2012, 04:42:48 PM »
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Every time somebody says that fine artists work from a vision and not for commercial purposes, somebody else trots out the old saw that Michelangelo worked on assignment and therefore was a commercial artist. Excuse me, but that's so dumb that it gives me a headache; the only real cure is to read some actual art history.

If you told Ansel Adams that you'd like to buy a landscape photo, you *could* get a piece of art, or you *could* get an assignment photo. If you told him to meet you on Wednesday morning to take a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, with you standing in the foreground waving at the camera, neither Ansel or you would consider the shot to be art. If you want an Ansel Adams art photo, then you would buy a well-considered piece of work that he did on his own time, with his own vision. Either procedure is possible, but the outcome is different. When the pope hired Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he wasn't hiring a paper hanger -- he was hiring a guy who'd put his own vision up there, and that's what Michelangelo did, to the pope's sometimes great frustration.

When a patron hired one of these guys to do a "theme" painting, they were hiring him for his art, not to produce a cartoon. Sometimes, even *often* with people like Caravaggio, what the artist produced was not what the patron wanted, and the painting was rejected. In other words, if you hire an artist for his vision, you may get fine art. If you tell an artist specifically what to do, then you're an art director, and you get craft. Nothing at all wrong with craft, it just isn't fine art.

JC  

You are simply falling into a strawman fallacy by framing it to support your argument. It is not like Michealangelo is going to make a bar scene on the Sistine Chapel. There is always context (direction) to commissioned work. Works by fashion (Avadon), commercial (Bourke-White), and documentary (FSA) photographers are also considered "Fine Art" even though there was an art director behind them. And you don't know much about art direction either. Your craft/fine art dichotomy is a false one. Excuse me, but that's so dumb that it gives me a headache; the only real cure is to get out and start trying to work as an artist.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #72 on: January 09, 2012, 05:07:18 PM »
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Allow me to enter this fray of "my quote is bigger than your quote": Wink

"Some people's photography is an art. Not mine. Art is a dirty word in photography. All this fine art crap is killing it already"  (underlining mine)

Helmut Newton
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Isaac
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« Reply #73 on: January 09, 2012, 05:24:58 PM »
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Allow me to enter this fray of "my quote is bigger than your quote": Wink
Obviously you're measuring incorrectly - see South Park, Season 15, Episode 4 - "T.M.I." :-)

But congratulations on the rarely attempted, inverse Tracey Emin, with 2 twists and a tuck!

"Some people's photography is an art. Not mine. Art is a dirty word in photography. All this fine art crap is killing it already." (emphasis mine)

Umm, OK Helmut, your photography is not art.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #74 on: January 09, 2012, 05:29:48 PM »
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... But congratulations on the rarely attempted, inverse Tracey Emin...

Ok... at this point, I have to ask: who the hell is Tracey Emin!?



EDIT: Never mind, the question is purely rhetorical

EDIT 2: the typo "how" corrected into the intended "who"

EDIT 3: I hate when edits become longer than the original post Angry
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Rob C
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« Reply #75 on: January 10, 2012, 02:55:55 AM »
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"Some people's photography is an art. Not mine. Art is a dirty word in photography. All this fine art crap is killing it already." (emphasis mine)

Umm, OK Helmut, your photography is not art.



Last time I heard/read Helmut on the topic, it wasn't art but good taste that he was deriding; odd, since though often rather vulgar, he also has a fantastically developed sense of taste as far as delving into a past, though possibly more glamorous era than he must have enjoyed in his own, later days is concerned. Frankly, I think we all did, had we but understood it at the time.

......................................................................................


"Ok... at this point, I have to ask: how the hell is Tracey Emin!?"

Slobodan -

How or who? Is that a typo gottcha or is it the real deal?!

A possible answer is that she's finally made that damned bed.

Rob C

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Rob C
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« Reply #76 on: January 10, 2012, 02:58:12 AM »
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You are simply falling into a strawman fallacy by framing it to support your argument. It is not like Michealangelo is going to make a bar scene on the Sistine Chapel. There is always context (direction) to commissioned work. Works by fashion (Avadon), commercial (Bourke-White), and documentary (FSA) photographers are also considered "Fine Art" even though there was an art director behind them. And you don't know much about art direction either. Your craft/fine art dichotomy is a false one. Excuse me, but that's so dumb that it gives me a headache; the only real cure is to get out and start trying to work as an artist.




That may or may not be the case - I tend to believe it's tongue-in-cheek; whatever the truth, you have to admit that John always manages to do it in perfectly delightful style!

;-)

Rob C
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #77 on: January 10, 2012, 07:55:53 AM »
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"Ok... at this point, I have to ask: how the hell is Tracey Emin!?"

Slobodan -

How or who? Is that a typo gottcha or is it the real deal?!...

Damn autocorrect!
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Isaac
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« Reply #78 on: January 10, 2012, 12:24:26 PM »
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Consider the example of a cleaner in an art gallery leaving a mop and bucket behind in a gallery. Is it art?

Tate Collection | H by Julian Opie

"In one corner of the gallery there is a set of three metal grids, each divided into 214 equidistant slits, set into the floor and not protected by a little rail. It is not obvious, at first, that these are any less visually interesting than the other exhibits in the gallery, until one realises that the reason they have no accompanying label is that they are the gratings for the gallery's air conditioning system. ... Thank goodness for the little rails in Tate Modern! They help you distinguish what is art from what is not."

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Isaac
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« Reply #79 on: January 10, 2012, 01:13:37 PM »
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Allow me to enter this fray of "my quote is bigger than your quote"

My impression is that you would prefer my own words rather than quotation - as though my own words would have an originality and creativity absent in mere selection from what we all might see if only we looked ;-)

Obviously I use quotation as straightforward argument from authority and as counter-examples to sweeping generalisations and as straightforward examples.

I like to see quotations and sources because they provide another avenue I can explore - they branch out from the commentary. That's also why I provide quotations - to provide others with avenues to explore that branch out from the commentary.
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