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In the Art World, is Photography still the poor cousin to painting and printmaking?

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AndreaJean
2 Apr 2013 - 1:55 AM

Hi all,

i would welcome your comments on this topic, as i am working on an assignment (Masters level), with this statement as a perception that i hold. For instance, there seem to be many more exhibitions of paintings than photography. Of course, I am aware that there is a fine line between 'snaps' and 'art' shots, which is why I am a member on this site! But I would appreciate some insightful comments or web-links to support, or disprove, my thinking.

Thank you!

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2 Apr 2013 - 1:55 AM

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monstersnowman

Can't offer a long insightful comment but from my personal experience, the response to photography I know from the buyers, and the attitude of sometimes very clique galleries, the answer is a resounding yes although America seems to have started a growing trend in accepting photography as a valid and respected art form.

I am not even sure I wish photography to be enveloped by the art world as it does bring about some grotesque interpretations of what we may class as photography when it is striving to make a name in contemporary art and I am more than happy to be pigeon holed in the 'craft' world as it seems to allow photographers to be just that rather than involving the elitist, money making, nonesense art speak, merry ground that expects participants to stretch, test and corrupt the art/craft ever more in the process of standing out or making a name in that particular genre of the art world. If photography becomes a fully fledged art we will no doubt see images on gallery walls around the world depicting pure white scenes or images taken with the lens cap on ... Or photographers taking images with the camera back to front and described as an introspective analysis of the photographer within, personal, unforgiving and self analytical - a journey into the space beyond the image where the photographer inhabits the conceptual space and creates the image by becoming the image etc etc etc blah blah blah .... And then sells for thousands and thousands while hundreds of socialites swill Pinot Grigio and stand thoughtfully gazing at square white framed objects of self indulgence.

AndreaJean
2 Apr 2013 - 5:08 AM

Thanks, Paul/monstersnowman,

Your take on the Art World is quite painfully accurate, i feel!
But, keep photographing, as i see your work is beautiful, i think!

Thank you for leaving a comment!

regards
a

joolsb
joolsb  927115 forum posts Switzerland38 Constructive Critique Points
2 Apr 2013 - 7:22 AM

There is a strong perception that photography is not seen as a true artform but, equally, there are quite a few photographers working primarily in this sphere - Thomas Struth, Michael Kenna, Harry Cory Wright, Jem Southam, Andreas Gursky, Alec Soth, Nadav Kander etc. and it's not necessarily the sort of work that Paul cynically lampoons. Basically, if you've been to the 'right' art schools, have the right background, and can spout enough arty-bollox to convince gallery-owners to give you a shot then you have a chance. Gallery-owners know their buyers and their buyers need to know that the 'undiscovered' artist they're buying into has the right pedigree to be a success (nobody wants to buy a dud or a one-shot wonder). It's all a cynical merry-go-round driven by money.

Similarly, there is a big gulf between the sort of images amateurs like to make and what excites art-collectors - obviously. If this weren't the case and the perception that 'anybody can do it' became widespread the buyers' investments would be instantly devalued. It's all a clique designed at keeping outsiders at bay.

At the more populist level - people buying prints to hang in their living rooms - the market is pretty much swamped with product. Anyone who knows their way around a DSLR (and some who don't) is hawking prints these days, often at less than cost price, leading to a public perception that good photography is dead easy. And this, in turn, devalues the notion of photography as art.

Newdevonian
2 Apr 2013 - 7:38 AM

I assume we are talking about a two dimensional print as the finished item, which means we can avoid cows in formaldehyde or unmade beds. I have seen works in print which I can only describe as weird. One often sees these in Photography Year books where the photographer is trying to be noticed, OR breaking the boundaries of photography as we know it! Luckily these various fashions seem only to last the year and good taste and good photography then prevails.

AndreaJean
2 Apr 2013 - 8:16 AM

Thank you, Julian/joolsb. Your comments are very insightful. i like what you said about 'pedigree'- which is what has distinguished artists like Picasso and Matisse.

And i can see the quality in your images. They have such a depth! And i guess by visiting the pages of those who post their comments here, that's what I'm doing: checking the pedigree of the respondents to try to ascertain the quality or validity of their opinions, through the level of their ability and/or competence with the camera. hmmm.....

Thank you! All the best!
A

AndreaJean
2 Apr 2013 - 8:21 AM

Thank you Chris/newdevonian. Yes, part of what i am doing is trying to tease out the aesthetics of my practice with photography, so analysing what is 'good taste' is paramount.

Thank you, too!
Regards
Andrea

paulcookphotography

I think photography holds higher respect in the art world than some give it credit for, however, i do think a lot of photographers are uncertain of whether their (or others) works are 'art'

You will rarely see a photographic exhibition of 'nice landscapes' in the same way its unlikely you will see an exhibition of paintings in the same style. While they are appealing, they dont hold the 'edge'/artistic appeal or uniqueness that galleries want to attract visitors. Art in any form goes through cycles of taste/interest and being different enough to be noticed while still falling into the current trends (even just n the edge) is more likey to get you noticed for a gallery exhibition. What appeals to a gallery/attracts visitors is not always what the average person would want to hang on their wall.

I have noticed that photographers in particular are usually the least accepting of photography as an art form, possibly because of the void between artistic photography and commercial/wedding work

mikehit
mikehit  46171 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
2 Apr 2013 - 9:22 AM


Quote: Similarly, there is a big gulf between the sort of images amateurs like to make and what excites art-collectors

Even with paintings, what 'excites art-collectors' is not the painting but name behind it: you only need to see how the price fluctuates if the provenance of a painting is questioned - the painting is the same but it is all about the artist. And the challenge that photography has is that there are so many photos out there you can always find something very similar by someone else. Not so easy with a painting.

But photography is getting there and people are starting to pay silly prices for photographs as they do with paintings:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_photographs

$4.3million for this:
rhein-ii.jpg
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/8884829/Why-is-Andreas-Gurskys-Rhine-II-t...

Last Modified By mikehit at 2 Apr 2013 - 9:23 AM
keith selmes
2 Apr 2013 - 9:32 AM

I like that Gursky picture even more every time I see it.
But I don't think I'm going to see it enough times to like it $4.3 million dollars worth.
If he puts it on Ephotozine, I'll give it a click Smile

Newdevonian
2 Apr 2013 - 9:53 AM

How can a print be worth anything since the file or negative still exist for copying? Even if they were purchased with the print, the file still would exist on someone else's computer, and failing that it would not be impossible to find the P.O.V. and retake the shot on a similar day. I assume the paper is still commercially available? A fool and their money are soon parted!
As for the shot itself, assuming I had taken it, I would be looking for more delineated cloud formation and perhaps a nice sailing boat caught in a shaft of light to make it acceptable, otherwise it would be a bin job. Perhaps that is why I will not become a millionaire.

Last Modified By Newdevonian at 2 Apr 2013 - 10:09 AM
keith selmes
2 Apr 2013 - 9:58 AM

Thinking it over, perhaps I see painting and printmaking as poor cousins to photography, but I don't suppose I'm part of the Art World.
I wouldn't have thought about it, if not for the title, and perhaps it surprises me a bit that I would feel that way, and it is a personal feeling rather than a logical conclusion. Given the choice, there is a lot of photographic work I would like to see as original prints before I would go for other visual arts. I don't have a particularly sensible explanation for this.

It will be obvious that I include photography under "visual arts", whilst accepting it often has very mundane uses.
But then, brushes and paints have very mundane uses. I do a lot of painting myself, mostly walls and doors and window frames. I don't call it art. In that sense I see no difference between painting and photography.

Having said that, I don't fuss over whether photography is defined as art or not. It seems obvious to me that sometimes it is, but the interminable discussions get tedious after a while, and like many people, I'd rather just do photography than bicker about what to call it.
I'm also not sure what the Art World is, and I suspect I wouldn't want to, so in those terms, in a down to earth sense, photography is photography, and we don't need to call it an art form, it stands on it's own, irrespective of how people classify it.
In fact, for now I've given up deciding what "Art" means. Better to just do it, and let others decide what they call it.

Apologies if this is not quite pertinent to the enquiry, it was the title that set me off.

mikehit
mikehit  46171 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
2 Apr 2013 - 10:11 AM


Quote: I like that Gursky picture even more every time I see it.

In the publicity surrounding the original sale I was quite cynical about it, but like you, the more I look at it the more I like it: it seems to me to be a Western equivalent to the horizontal reds and pinks in the Japanese sunset paintings.
Maybe the artist has done his homework and is pressing various buttons in the psyche.



Quote: How can a print be worth anything since the file or negative still exist for copying?
... failing that it would not be impossible to find the P.O.V. and retake the shot on a similar day

You can say that about any art - when a forger can recreate a technique to almost perfection why is Constable's Haywain worth millions but a copy is worthless? The whole art world relies on trust and as such is prime for being fooled.


Quote: assuming I had taken it, I would be looking for more delineated cloud formation and perhaps a nice sailing boat caught in a shaft of light to make it acceptable, otherwise it would be a bin job

I'm sure you could compromise your artistic principles for 4.3million, eh? Tongue

Newdevonian
2 Apr 2013 - 10:18 AM


Quote: assuming I had taken it, I would be looking for more delineated cloud formation and perhaps a nice sailing boat caught in a shaft of light to make it acceptable, otherwise it would be a bin job
I'm sure you could compromise your artistic principles for 4.3million, eh? Tongue

Probably! GrinGrinGrinBlushBlush

Last Modified By Newdevonian at 2 Apr 2013 - 10:18 AM
adrian_w
adrian_w e2 Member 63279 forum postsadrian_w vcard Scotland4 Constructive Critique Points
2 Apr 2013 - 10:54 AM

In simple terms the answer to your question is YES.
Generally speaking a painting or print will sell for much more than a photograph will, even of the same subject.
Both artists & photographers need a vision of the image they wish to produce but the production of that image is more complex for an artist than for a photographer. Even though today with photoshop techniques the boundary between photography & art is becomming increasingly blurred.
The modern day public view is that anyone can take a good photo with a digital camera but producing a "work of art" still requires a special talent.

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