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Author Topic: Are Museums Destroying Art?  (Read 18634 times)
petermfiore
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« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2012, 07:57:26 PM »
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I am artist and the ability to photograph at a museum is an invaluable tool. I am able to see up close how the artist crafted his work. No flash and handheld. Shot using a Panasonic GX-1 and 20mm 1.7
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 08:15:41 PM by petermfiore » Logged

kwalsh
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« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2012, 08:04:46 PM »
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So ignoring the "flash damages art" red herring that is actually only true for a very, very small selection of art work Mark is of course onto something about all the flashes and AF lights and more importantly guest behavior destroying the experience of the art.  This is of course true of more than just art museums.  It is about the people and their behavior more than about the cameras themselves.  The cameras are just a particular symptom and banning them or not is unlikely to fix the larger issues.

I'll extend the classical concert analogy.  If I go to a "pops" concert I expect noise, the sound of coolers opening, kids running around, and badly amplified music.  If I go to the concert hall I expect a well behaved audience that knows how to stay quiet.  

Why do we have "pops" concerts?  Because orchestras go out of business without them.  There is more than one group of people looking to access music and there is more than one way to experience it.  An orchestra can market to both and has to in order to remain solvent.

This leaves art museums in a dilemma.  For an original piece of art you really can't market it to more than one group.  Sure, there are exceptions with traveling shows and rotating collections, but for the hyperbolic examples Mark chose (Mona Lisa, Starry Night) there really isn't going to be more than one choice.  And for a museum such pieces are going to have to be presented to the least common denominator for simple economic reasons.  These iconic (and probably over-rated) pieces are the draw that allow the museum to survive and host the rest of their collection.

Consider National Parks.  Yosemite Valley is an unmitigated disaster destroyed by its own popularity.  I never go, it just isn't worth it.  On the other hand, it is a publicly funded resource as are the rest of the parks.  Allowing easy access, to the point of "ruining" it in some people's opinion (mine) also allows a much larger population (most taxpayers) to gain an appreciation for our Parks so that they continue and makes sure that not just Yosemite but a whole slew of other less visited places do not suffer the fate of the Hetch Hetchy valley.  They don't appreciate them the same way they do, but I won't get to appreciate any other places without giving them a place for their own experience on terms different than mine.

So what is a museum to do?  What is a museum patron to do?  I don't have an easy answer, but I don't think Mark's "ban photography" will really have the impact he desires.  He's missing the forest for the trees here.  The real question is how to fund museums and structure them so that more than one type of visitor can enjoy them.  Right now in most cases this is only done by visiting completely different museums, but perhaps single museums could find a structure to support both.  Climbing a high horse and declaiming "my way or the highway" is unfortunately not economically viable.

I will say, however, I see a lot of behavior in such places that is just not acceptable by any metric.  Gentle education by docents would be the right approach, just as the NP Rangers take a very public and prominent role in shaping visitor behavior.

Ken
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daws
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« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2012, 12:51:51 AM »
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I'd rather go to Disneyworld. (Actually, no I wouldn't. I'd rather have my eyeballs pierced with hot needles than be forced to go to Disneyworld).

Even those who'd rather go to Disneyworld don't want to go to Disneyworld: Disney fan forums are increasingly filled with complaints about customers at both the California and Florida Disney theme parks who ruin dark rides and stage shows with the same behavior Mark reported -- pushing, shoving, blinding others with flash photography. The latest rage is iPads held above heads to record the very scene that the iPad blocks the viewers behind them from seeing. Incredible.

Equally incredible was the number of participants in the opening night Olympic Parade of Athletes who marched around the stadium grinning and waving but with their eyes focused on their LCDs.

 Huh

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kencameron
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« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2012, 02:01:57 AM »
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I am artist and the ability to photograph at a museum is an invaluable tool.
The high res images on google art project and the louvre site (among other places) are useful too. And I often take close focus binoculars to galleries so that I can look at brush strokes etc without leaving my nose print on the painting.

Flash photography is often distracting and there may be a case for selective bans. But there is a quite a lot of baby that would be thrown out with the bathwater if there were to be a ban on all photography in all museums.
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kencameron
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« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2012, 02:07:26 AM »
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Consider National Parks.  Yosemite Valley is an unmitigated disaster destroyed by its own popularity.
The last time I went, half an hour's walk was more than enough to get to somewhere quiet and beautiful. But I agree with everything else in your post. Museums can't just be for a self-selected elite. And people can be taught to behave appropriately and respect the rights of others.
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Ray
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« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2012, 04:56:07 AM »
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The bottom line is that I enjoy the paintings in the Gallery, and can then enjoy them again in the comfort of my home, and even see things later that I missed in the Gallery, especially if I enlarge the image.

Absolutely! This is why I always feel so disappointed whenever an art gallery forbids all photography. I can understand a prohibition on the use of flash, because that can disturb other viewers. I can understand a prohibition on tripods, because they can get in the way of other patrons, possibly even tripping them up and causing an injury. I can understand the annoyance to other patrons, of people standing in front of paintings to have their photo taken in order to demonstrate that they were there.

So here's the solution for all galleries.

(1) Flash photography and tripods not allowed under any circumstances.

(2) Inconsiderate behaviour such as obstructing the paintings in order to have one's photo taken in front of them, is not allowed.

Problem solved!

I was surprised a few years ago when visiting Russia for the first time, that I was allowed to take photos (without flash) of any of the very famous paintings in places like the Hermitage and the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. All I had to do was pay an additional small fee for the privilege. I thought that was a very civilised approach.

Occasionally when I wanted to photograph a particular painting, there was someone standing right in front of it, inspecting the brush strokes. Not a major problem. He/she would soon move on. A greater problem sometimes was the reflected light from the glossy and shiny oil in certain parts of a painting. In order to avoid them, one would sometimes have to photograph the painting at an angle, which later would involve the use of Free Transform and Distort in Photoshop in order to correct the perspective.

Attached is such a painting. If I hadn't been able to photograph this painting I would probably have forgotten its name and the name of the painter, and would not later have searched on the internet for the wonderful story of Phryne, the subject of this painting.

To cut a long story short, Phryne was a beautiful model who lived during the times of ancient Greece. She had a tendency to flaunt her beauty at religious festivals. When she was eventually accused of profanity towards the Gods, she was in very serious trouble, but fortunately her lover was a lawyer. As the trial proceeded, in front of a group of elderly, all-male judges, it seemed clear to her defense lawyer that all was not going well. The verdict could be disastrous for his client/lover. So in a desperate attempt and 'last resort measure' to save the day, he brought Phryne directly in front of the judges, just a few feet away (although I can't be sure about this because I wasn't there), and tore open her robe to reveal her beautiful breasts, whilst simultaneously imploring the judges to consider how someone possessing such beauty could ever be guilty of profaning the Gods.

The judges immediately came to their senses and acquitted Phryne of any religious sacrilege.

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dreed
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« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2012, 05:32:25 AM »
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Here's a suggestion for Mark Dubovoy - become the curator of a museum and ban photography. See how well your ban works and what it does for the satisfaction of those that walk through the doors and how those numbers either increase or decrease.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that Mark Dubovoy is the Ken Rockwell of Luminous Landscape.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2012, 06:29:27 AM »
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I'm becoming more and more convinced that Mark Dubovoy is the Ken Rockwell of Luminous Landscape.

Actually I think that this comment may be synonymous with comparing Albert Einstein to Daffy Duck.
You may want to do a bit of research into Mark Dubovoy and his accomplishments before making such stretched comparisons.

Regards

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 06:31:01 AM by Tony Jay » Logged
stamper
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2012, 06:37:37 AM »
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I found the article to be elitist. Consciously or unconsciously he was stating that other people were getting in the way of him wanting to spend an inordinate amount of time "alone" with his thoughts in front of an image without any distractions. He reinforced it by stating he arrived very early but others were there three minutes later. Maybe the others found that standing in front of an art work for a long period of time meant he was in the way of others wanting to do the same. Solution! He should hire some people, or do it himself, and steal the Mona Lisa and hang it in his bathroom and he can then lie in his bath with his little duck and view it to his heart's content without disturbance? Otherwise live and let live? Wink
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 06:57:59 AM by stamper » Logged

stamper
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« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2012, 06:40:17 AM »
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Actually I think that this comment may be synonymous with comparing Albert Einstein to Daffy Duck.
You may want to do a bit of research into Mark Dubovoy and his accomplishments before making such stretched comparisons.

Regards

Tony Jay

His accomplishments shouldn't have any bearing on the article he posted?
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2012, 06:44:54 AM »
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His accomplishments shouldn't have any bearing on the article he posted?

Thats debatable.
However the issue was that Mark was being uncritically compared to Ken Rockwell, Nothing else.

Regards

Tony Jay

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stamper
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« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2012, 06:57:01 AM »
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Both like to court controversy I think that is what dreed was alluding to?
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dreed
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« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2012, 07:52:16 AM »
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Both like to court controversy I think that is what dreed was alluding to?

Yes.

Or perhaps you might say articles such as this one are "flame/troll bait" or even "troll worthy."

This is another of his stories that I simply stopped reading very early on because the opinions being espoused sounded like they were meant to inflame and/or engender commentary rather than being intelligent.

I visit this website to read about photography and directly related matters, not to read people's opinions on museums.
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marfa.tx
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« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2012, 07:59:40 AM »
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"Would you rather be the loudest person in your neighborhood, or the quietest?"

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richard
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« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2012, 08:12:35 AM »
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The last time I went [to Yosemite], half an hour's walk was more than enough to get to somewhere quiet and beautiful. But I agree with everything else in your post.

If I put my cynical hat on, I'd say that too many landscape photographers and/or readers of this forum dare not venture more than 30 yards from their car.

97% of Yosemite N.P. is wilderness and the 3% that isn't wilderness is probably the limit of what 97% of its visitors visit. If anyone thinks that Yosemite N.P. is defined by Yosemite Valley then they haven't really explored Yosemite N.P. at all.

What is really amazing about Yosemite N.P. is that it makes the wilderness accessible. It allows us to be in the landscape and if you're adventurous, part of the landscape.

I only wish that there were more national parks like Yosemite N.P. that reinforced the value of nature. Actually, the Grand Canyon could probably also be put into that basket, along with Glacier National Park.
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Rob C
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« Reply #35 on: August 21, 2012, 09:10:31 AM »
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I found the article to be elitist. Consciously or unconsciously he was stating that other people were getting in the way of him wanting to spend an inordinate amount of time "alone" with his thoughts in front of an image without any distractions. He reinforced it by stating he arrived very early but others were there three minutes later. Maybe the others found that standing in front of an art work for a long period of time meant he was in the way of others wanting to do the same. Solution! He should hire some people, or do it himself, and steal the Mona Lisa and hang it in his bathroom and he can then lie in his bath with his little duck and view it to his heart's content without disturbance? Otherwise live and let live? Wink


Jesus, stamper, ever time I think I've misunderstood you, that you are as perfectly normal as I, you trot put another Trotsk and ruin my illusions yet again!

Why, in the name of all you hold holy, is it 'elitist' to expect some peace, quiet, respect and space, both physical and mental, for the purposes of contemplation in a gallery or museum? After all, it's not as if one were in a shopping arcade, a bowling alley of even a skating rink watching the Paisley Pirates! (Should they still exist, should Paisley Ice Rink still exist. One of my two very favourite people here in Spain was a Canadian who lived in Scotland, ran a succesful company there and played with the Pirates...)

Because it's possible to run riot in many public spaces doesn't imply that one should be able to do so everywhere. As with the notorious horses, so with locations: they have different uses and potentials.

Insofar as photography goes, I'd ban even the use of available light shooting. If one is serious enough about the art (not the memento value to the ego) then one can always buy a postcard, assuming that one hasn't already bought the books...

;-)

Rob C
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 09:12:37 AM by Rob C » Logged

rothberg
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« Reply #36 on: August 21, 2012, 09:39:41 AM »
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A long time ago I went to school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  In those days, to get to the school, you had to walk through almost the whole of the museum. In my two years of walking through that building I made it a point to go a different way almost every day.  What a wonderful education I received on those walks. Today looking at 19th Century French Impressionists, yesterday 15th century Dutch chairs. Those walks were one of the most important parts of my art education, in large part because I learned to really look at art and by that act, to begin to see it.  I now live outside of Washington DC. It has taken me 20 years and maybe 100 visits to see the East Wing of the National Gallery. Today, when in a city new to me and visiting an art museum for the first time, I give myself 2 hours and look at maybe 5 pieces.  You can, at most museums, ignore the kids and the trophy hunters if you just stand and wait. Sure blockbuster shows and star pieces draw crowds.  American Gothic was and is a huge draw, but if you stand there for 20 or 30 minutes you will get a good, personal look at a great American masterpiece.  I advise patience (and comfortable shoes).
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #37 on: August 21, 2012, 09:44:31 AM »
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A long time ago I went to school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  In those days, to get to the school, you had to walk through almost the whole of the museum. In my two years of walking through that building I made it a point to go a different way almost every day.  What a wonderful education I received on those walks. Today looking at 19th Century French Impressionists, yesterday 15th century Dutch chairs. Those walks were one of the most important parts of my art education, in large part because I learned to really look at art and by that act, to begin to see it.  I now live outside of Washington DC. It has taken me 20 years and maybe 100 visits to see the East Wing of the National Gallery. Today, when in a city new to me and visiting an art museum for the first time, I give myself 2 hours and look at maybe 5 pieces.  You can, at most museums, ignore the kids and the trophy hunters if you just stand and wait. Sure blockbuster shows and star pieces draw crowds.  American Gothic was and is a huge draw, but if you stand there for 20 or 30 minutes you will get a good, personal look at a great American masterpiece.  I advise patience (and comfortable shoes).

Fascinating insight.
I enjoyed that - thanks for sharing.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Isaac
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« Reply #38 on: August 21, 2012, 11:01:14 AM »
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If I put my cynical hat on, I'd say that too many landscape photographers and/or readers of this forum dare not venture more than 30 yards from their car.

Whether or not they dare, it would not be surprising if they do not venture far from their car -- that's the ordinary behaviour of many other park visitors, and that's partly why "half an hour's walk was more than enough to get to somewhere quiet and beautiful".

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OldRoy
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« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2012, 11:28:06 AM »
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Or are there simply too many people everywhere?

I'm continually coming to the conclusion that in debates like this one (and most notably the issues around climate change) the "elephant in the room" is simply that population growth is the root cause of most problems: in the galleries; on the streets of cities - in fact everywhere on the planet, consuming resources as if they are limitless. Of course given the current state of capitalism there's an axiomatic requirement for ever-increasing numbers of consumers, consuming ever greater quantities of "stuff".

One alternative, that an increased proportion of the return on capital be distributed to the workforce so that they can buy more stuff, is not acceptable in an economic system where an ever-increasing proportion of the profits are retained by the owners of the capital: the oligarchy wishes to maintain this situation indefinitely. Hence the need for "emerging markets" so that the pyramid scheme can continue to expand. Until... well, we've recently had an interesting illustration of the consequences of this model, not that it has stimulated any real change. A catastrophe is probably required.

I'd love to have seen the recent Leonardo exhibition in London, likewise Hockney's mega-show (particularly the interesting multi-DSLR videos) but speaking to friends who went, the sheer numbers of people at both exhibitions made the experience hellish. Whether there were frantic snappers firing off flashes and cavorting brats matters little under these circumstances. Imagine queueing for hours just to get a ticket.

Quite why people want to take happy snaps of paintings, with or without themselves mugging in front of them, eludes me. But an increasing number of examples of mass behaviour elude my understanding: advancing age I guess. The only collections I've enjoyed snapping are collections of vehicles and aircraft: the extra dimension helps a lot.

Last summer I attended a contemporary music festival in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic*. A friend had organised a day long marathon of live electronic music held in the central gallery of fine art. This was an unusual experience: a bit like being trapped in a car-crushing plant for 12 hours without ear-defenders. I was taking photographs but the opportunities were rather static, so I ducked out periodically.

The main part of the gallery was closed and lightly guarded by an affable babushka-like lady. I asked politely and was granted access (hand-wringing gestures are the extent of my Czech apart from "ahoy" which, inexplicably, is the all-purpose Czech greeting: I guess it's due to their illustrious maritime history). I had the entire gallery to myself, which was really wonderful. To my delighted astonishment I was confronted by Klimt's "Judith with the Head of Holofernes". All to myself. Memorable indeed, and unlike any visit to a gallery I've experienced previously. Had I only encountered a thread like this one beforehand I might even have thought to enhance the experience...

Roy
*"Ostrava Days": Highly recommended bi-annual event and a fascinating location.
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