Am I the only one to see a naked emperor?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by richard_ilomaki, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. Hello

    A local gallery here in Toronto has just closed a showing of prints
    by a California photographer or prints of the Pacific Ocean- rocks,
    foggy horizons etc. Most seemed to me to be a waste of 4 x 5 FEET
    (!!)of paper & silver. The comments and descriptions seemed very
    fatuous and precious to me- more creative than the photos!

    The website- www.tatargallery.com - has these for viewing for a few
    more days at least. I would appreciate comments of others on the
    aesthetics of these prints.

    Many Thanks
     
  2. I dunno man, I think this one is one of the better examples of star trails I've seen in a while. The glow on the right side is a little distracting / detracting though.

    Now I haven't seen the actual prints, and maybe there's a lot of pretentious presentation and stuff, but the photos are kindof nice in a quiet, subtle way. Maybe printing huge would kindof hurt that though.

    It's certainly not going to get a rise out of the photo.net-reading public though, the way this thread has.
     
  3. Richard

    They are not my cup of tea,but to some people they might have merit.
    I see many photos that are suppose to be FINE ART,that I just do not see any sense of composition or quality.That does not mean that they are not reaching other people.The true test (hype aside)is will they sell the images and will they have lasting value?
     
  4. I really like the pictures but I wouldn't want to see them any larger than 16X20. Some people think that an 8X10 is a picture but if you blow it up to 4ftX5ft it is art. I am not of that school.
     
  5. When you start showing your work to others,the purity of the art diminishes.You do pure art for yourself..Evan Clarke
     
  6. I saw an exhibition by Hooper (attended opening night) and wasn't impressed either! The "transcendental..." yadda yadda yadda does over power the lack of contrast, simplistic nature. It isn't even close to the artistic visions of Oriental visions. The other thing that really bother me with his prints that he showed were that they weren't even finished properly. They were printed with a lack of caring/professionalism that should be done for gallery work. Just because they were very large, doesn't make them art! I was approached by a woman that night who dribbled on about the vision and artistic enlightenment... yadda, yadda, blah blah... and I looked at the prints, looked at her and softly asked if she was kidding! Hooper came up to me later that night before my wife and I left and asked my opinion... I told him how I felt about the quality and subject matter and he said nothing other than it is a work in progress... I too saw the emperor and he was buck naked and without a clue!
     
  7. Marketing more important than talent and pratice?

    We see it in music, movie and now our beloved art???

    God help us.

    But I had one print that I have sold a few of that I did not particularly like. I found out from informed sources that is has a calming and soothing effect on the viewer. Few of the buyers are shrinks.

    Whatever pays the kid's college!
     
  8. Most of them didn't do much for me, fairly predictable images, but I thought "Moonlight, Garrapata Beach" was very nice. Sort of a Mark Rothko tone band thing with a highly textured rock sitting there in a jarring sort of way. As for size, these types of images sometimes only work if they are printed large. How large? Hard to say, but for me, not anything smaller than 16x20. Like I said, "for me." As for the commerce part of the art world, gallery owners almost always like bigger prints - mo' money, mo' money, mo' money.
     
  9. maybe some are not best framed, but alltogether not that bad.^^
     
  10. I'm always somewhat bemused by the apparent fear of what photographers seem to consider "big" pictures?

    Why have we insisted on only making minatures for so long?

    As for the photogorpahs themselves - they are quite nice, but apart from one or seem to lack to power and originality of Sugimotos seascapes for example
     
  11. Without seeing them, I can't speak for the quality of the prints, but Chip Hooper's photographs do have a spare, minimalistic, "Zen" quality to them that I find appealing. The concept of void, or nothingness, is rarely explored in photography.

    I have never seen reproductions of his work any larger than 8x10 or so, and I can imagine that by sheer virtue of titanic size they might take on a looming presence that would defeat some of that lightness of spirit. The size would probably best be determined by the context within which they are displayed. Airport or shopping mall atrium? Go big or go unnoticed. In a home or an intimate gallery? I would prefer to whisper rather than shout and thus would scale the final print accordingly. But then, he didn't ask me! :)
     
  12. I understand what you and others are saying Richard and I am one of those that clearly does not "get it". Aesthetics? What aesthetics? But the fact remains that he was successful at accomplishing a showing of this work at what appears on the surface to be a rather large gallery. Good for him.

    But at the end of the day the market will either buy into it or they will graciously pass as any piece of art in whatever form it manifests itself in will only be worth what the market is willing to bear. Unless your name proceeds the words "Trust Fund" on the monthly check or you have a day gig to pay the bills, life can be at either end of the emotional and financial scale.

    Takes all kinds of views to make the world go round.

    Cheers!
     
  13. I checked out the website of this photographer who commands $5,000.00 per portrait with her ULF camera, IMHO the lighting is bad, the posing stiff in 99% of the shots I saw, one family portrait has the father with his shirt open at the bottom with his belly button showing,.......she rationalizes away bad technique with Zen-pscyhobabble and judging from the money she's made, folks like her style.

    My hat's off to her, these are snapshots w/a giant camera, but she's still marketed herself into a success, the biggest, the fastest, the most talented, don't always win the race. Arnold was never a good actor, and he has millions in the bank, two highly paid painters I can think of happen to be elephants.

    We take our art seriously, but that's no guarentee anyone else does, Van Gogh was considered a bum, sold one picture if I'm not mistaken, Rembrandt died penniless, some of us will be lucky enough to gain some recognition for our work, some of us won't. Being bitter about it if you're on the 'short end of the stick' is a waste of time.

    Life isn't fair, it never has been, your attitude about that fact has to be 'so what', while you go on to bringing into reality your next idea.
     
  14. What is art anyway? Art is what others may think of. It is perception and much more marketing. Has been so, will be for ever.
     
  15. If half the people that see that gallery love it and the other half despise it, the photographer will probably have a good living out of it. And if you're in the half that despises it, it doesn't really matter if you just sorta dislike it, or intensely loath it- you won't be a customer either way.
     
  16. Richard, I like it. At least I think that I do. Don't know how I'd feel if I saw the original 4x5' enlargements, doubt that they will stand up (visually) that large -- maybe 24x30 tops -- certainly should be printed larger than 16x20. Also, it may be too much of a good thing; I can't imagine a whole room of them. But it would be quiet and restful to have one of them along the wall opposite my little gallery of Weston, Adams, and Strand (all loaded with pure energy). You gotta learn to ignore the hype and look at the images.
     
  17. I haven't had the chance to look at the images but galleries can make more money/sales from a mediocre large prints than a perfect small one. You are assuming that everyone who buys art from a gallery is an informed buyer..they aren't.


    Has anyone noticed that 8x10 contacts are disappearing to be replaced by big colour prints or large inkjet images? A gallery will show what it hopes it can sell, art is a business after all.


    An old wedding photographer friend I used to help sometimes once told me..'If you can't make them good....make them big' ;-)


    CP Goerz
     
  18. I saw the show last July at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, and was sufficiently impressed to purchase the catalog.

    That said, there are a couple of things about these images that don't sit well with me. The first is that they are really large. We all know that bigger is better (Proof, you ask? Well, we use LF.) But there is a point where bigger becomes overpowering. I saw a very large "Moonrise, Hernandez, NM) in New Orleans many years ago. It was neat - and it had a $45K price tag on it. Very impressive, but the gallery was just too small to be able to appreciate something that large.

    The other thing relates to the subject matter. I was very impressed with the technical quality of the Hooper prints I saw in Carmel - I know that in my own work, images that involve that much blank sky inevitably have all kinds of flaws that make them absolutely miserable to print and spot, and I saw no evidence that Hooper had to go through any of that torture. But they generated the same response as a show I saw of Joel Meyerowitz "Bay Sky" images - ho hum. There's almost too little there to maintain my attention.
     
  19. Well the images on the website, as a collection, did not seem too bad to me. There were some that were quite booring but others I enjoyed. Perhaps seeing 4x5 prints close-up made for a different experience.
     
  20. I tend to think of prints in terms of how they would look on the walls of my home. Smaller than 8x10 tends to get lost, while anything larger than 16x20 overpowers a room. Obviously prints 4x5 feet are intended for a much larger space, such as an office building, and are presumably intended as such and probably priced accordingly. Richard, didn't you like any of the images at all?
     
  21. I greatly prefer them to the usual Adams/Weston clones and the western-landscape-on-velveeta crowd.
     
  22. I would not buy any of the prints.

    Even I can do better if I were at those locations and have the time and resources at my disposal.
     
  23. I know Chip and think very highly of him, and I'm also represented by Tatar
    Gallery so maybe my POV is a bit biased. I've seen the show, I really liked it.
    What Chip has done is not the usual type of photography. It is very subtle, I
    can understand that there might not be enough "fireworks" in these images to
    hold the attention of some, but that is part of the point as far as I can tell. He's
    going for quiet images, that's also consistent with the kind of quiet that you
    can sense on a shore on a foggy or windless day. The Pacific coast is home
    for Chip, his prints reflect that peacefulness and serenity.

    There was a negative comment made here about the print quality, maybe
    that's because it's not the standard every shade from black to white type
    prints. I can tell you from experience that it is far harder to produce prints of
    such subtlety than it is to produce prints of boldness. Having seen the prints, I
    thought the print quality was truly excellent.

    As for the size, someone said that galleries want bigger prints because they
    can charge more, in my experience this has not been the case. If there has
    been any pressure that I have felt relating to making big prints, it has been
    generated by the collectors, not the galleries. Chip chose to make big prints,
    and I think that qualitatively they held up very well. However I believe his
    work is available in much smaller sizes. I would guess that the bulk of his
    sales might be the smaller sizes, however in a large room or a corporate
    location, this size might be just the right thing.

    Chip is very dedicated to his work, and I know for him it's the work, and his
    family, that matters.
     
  24. I thought they were pretty great stuff myself but then I like things understated. I thought the printing was exceptional. As others have said, printing with nothing but subtle tones of gray like many of these, rather than black, midtones, white, can be difficult to do. I thought the sunset one in particular was terrific - first sunset photograph I think I remember seeing that was of an unspectacular but very beautiful sunset. I bet that they look even better in the original, I suspect there's a lot of subtle tones that get lost on the web. I don't know how I'd like them as 4'x5'prints but I think they'd work great around 16x20.
     
  25. The thing about art is, it's up to the artist. We, as viewers, can like it or not. That's beyond the control of the artist. You didn't like it. Which is fine.

    I'm not sure of the motivation of this thread though. Disagreeing with an artist's call on print size isn't really worth a thread here. And complaining about the comments and descriptions? I just don't see what it is about this that raises such righteous indignation.

    So what, really, are you so mad about? You don't like the artist's work? Don't buy it. Think you can do better? Go out and make better photographs. Mad that you didn't get the show but he did? Work on getting your portfolio out in front of more people, and ask for shows.

    Me? I'm happy for the guy. I like to see my fellow artists getting their work out in front of people, whether I like the work or not. I like seeing photography sell. The more successful photographers we have out there, the better my odds of also being successful.
     
  26. Personally -- I enjoyed these images -- I think it is a good show -- solidly done and well presented. After reading all these comments -- I am thinking about the gallery and how the gallery is really there to inform -- i.e. to mediate the experience of the viewer. The fact that they capitolize on this shouldn't be cause for disdain. The idea that the viewer is "uninformed" is perhaps a bit unforgiving. After all -- we all know what we like -- and the real truth is -- that has absolutely nothing to do with it's value or quality as an artwork, and everything to do with why it is a success in a gallery. There is a clear distinction between great artwork and the success of "art" in the market.

    As for the size -- 4x5 feet is really pretty small relative to many of the great artworks that have persisted for hundreds of years. For a painter or sculptor -- that is average. I'd like to see them big enough so that you'd have to build a building around them.
     
  27. Cannot comment on the finish of the exhibited prints or how they looked at 4x5 feet, but I personally liked the work, it has a definite personal viewpoint, the handling of the medium in terms of tonality and composition seems assured, and the guy appears to be in touch with what galleries and clients want!
    Your don't actually say what you dislike about the pictures (only the comments and descriptions). Can only repeat what someone else has already said - if you don't like this work, ignore it - better, go shoot your own images the way you like them!
     
  28. I have just clicked into Chip Hooper's website and I think that both his landscapes and seascapes are very stylish and well seen. I haven't seen the prints close-up so I don't know if they translate easily to 4x5 feet, but at more normal sizes I wouldn't say no to owning one of these!

    I do agree with Richard that many photographers could do without the 'psychobabble' crap that many artists and Gallery owners seem to dream up when describing the work on show. In fairness to Chip Hooper his website images are just simply titled and the images do all the talking.

    That's my ?0.2c.
    George.
     
  29. Well!

    Thanks for all the responses.

    I am not angry, envious or judgemental about the photos- I just made an observation without serious qualification. I was put off by the drivel in the descriptions, I guess.

    The comments have been very informative and I now see the images in a different light. I myself wouldn't call them great, but they are still valid statements. Art is valid even if it evokes a negative response, but in my first observation, there was little if any response.

    Double good fortune to Chip.
    Cheers
     
  30. Hmm.... I know Chip's work, and there's a lot I like about it. Seems if you don't like the look and feel of the more "zen-like" images, you probably don't care a lot for Michael Kenna's work either. (I greatly prefer Kenna personally, but I can see a lot in Chip's work that I like as well).

    Quality of the prints? I have to know that they're top notch as those I've seen in the past (I also know Chip's darkroom manager, and he's one of the best printers I've ever seen.... and have had some of my exhibition silver work done by him as well).

    4x5 FEET?!?! Never seen em that big, but I'm sure Chip has his reasons.... not to my taste though and I'd have to believe that it's not REAL collectable at that size.

    Comments fatouous and precious... well.... I've seen a lot of photographers that so the same, especially in their artist's statements. I've been guilty of that as well and have actually been looking at my current one with that in mind (although I feel there's a lot of truth in there too). You wanna see BIG examples of that, look at the modern art world outside of Photography and read reviews of shows. WOW.

    And someone said something about: "Marketing more important than talent and pratice? We see it in music, movie and now our beloved art??? "
    Now, I'm not going to say anything about Chip in this regard, as I don't necessarily believe this is the case (well.... maybe the 4x5 foot pieces).... but can anyone say "Thomas Kincade - Painter of Light(tm)"
     
  31. "4x5 FEET?!?! Never seen em that big, but I'm sure Chip has his reasons.... not to my taste though and I'd have to believe that it's not REAL collectable at that size."

    Of course, small by the standards of a lot of paintings. Photography seems to have adopted a bias for miniature works even when the technical barriers for making larger work have long gone. It was, and is, a self limitation that is often detrimental imo. Everyone likes the old saw - "if you can't make it good make it big" - which may sometimes have an element of truth, but is far too much of a generalization to actually be meaningful. Indeed, the opposite is often true, there are many many not so good photographs out there that look okay when you keep them nice and small, but make them 2, 3 or 4 feet wide and everything that is wrong about them becomes obvious. Indeed, it is in some ways often much harder to make a good big photographs and for it to succeed.

    On the purely practical side - it's a lot easier fo a gallery to sell one 50"x60" print to a corporate collection - bank, automobile company, investment house or whatever for $5,000/$10,000 or $20,000 etc. Than to sell five or ten 20x24 prints to individual private collectors
     
  32. "Photography seems to have adopted a bias for miniature works even when
    the technical barriers for making larger work have long gone."

    D. Kevin that's not the case. Painting on a larger canvas just requires a
    larger canvas, more paint and a bigger easel. Making really huge prints on
    the other hand requires the use of a large format camera, as smaller formats
    have a serious degradation of image quality, (something that doesn't happen
    when you paint a bigger painting) , the use of a large format wall projection
    enlarger with a vacuum easel on the wall, these enlargers are usually
    mounted on tracks and cost upwards of $20k for a decent one. You also need
    giant trays, giant sinks, giant washers, etc. Also try handling a wet piece of
    paper five feet across and moving it from tray to tray without kinking it, just one
    kink or crack in the emulsion and the print goes into the trash. Then try storing
    them if they survive the development ,washing and drying process. Paintings
    can be left standing if they're still stretched, or unstretched and rolled, super
    large prints have to lay flat , please find me a flat file with 4x5' drawers. The
    difficulty , failure rate and costs in producing very large prints increase greatly
    as compared to more standard sizes. I won't address digital prints because it
    has been my experience with many galleries that most serious collectors
    prefer traditional prints over digital.
     
  33. "that's not the case. Painting on a larger canvas just requires a larger canvas, more paint and a bigger easel. Making really huge prints on the other hand requires the use of a large format camera,"

    well - this is a Large Format list...

    "as smaller formats have a serious degradation of image quality, (something that doesn't happen when you paint a bigger painting) , the use of a large format wall projection enlarger with a vacuum easel on the wall, these enlargers are usually mounted on tracks and cost upwards of $20k for a decent one. You also need giant trays, giant sinks, giant washers, etc. Also try handling a wet piece of paper five feet across and moving it from tray to tray without kinking it, just one kink or crack in the emulsion and the print goes into the trash. Then try storing them if they survive the development ,washing and drying process."

    That's what I meant about excuses for not doing it

    "Paintings can be left standing if they're still stretched, or unstretched and rolled, super large prints have to lay flat , please find me a flat file with 4x5' drawers."

    Simple - build them


    "The difficulty , failure rate and costs in producing very large prints increase greatly as compared to more standard sizes."

    Clyde Butcher, for one, seems to do very well and have resolved all the above problems. Sugimoto is another - there are many more

    "I won't address digital prints because it has been my experience with many galleries that most serious collectors prefer traditional prints over digital"

    Again, excuses and bad information - all the major galleries are quite happy with collecting work which, for example started as a LF negative or transparency, was scanned and then printed digitally in some form (Lightjet, Chromira, Epson wide format) - often work that costs tens of thousands of dollars - Burtynksy, Gursky, Struth, Shore, Graham, Wall and plenty of others. Museums and serious collectors are mostly quite happy collecting such work. At least one major museum is actively collecting work produced via inkjet.

    To say the above is simply incorrect. All your points do is re-confirm what I said - that there is in some areas apparently an inherent bias against large scale photographic prints, which is often justified by technical arguments that just don't apply any more.

    Someone mentioned Kinkaid - which brings to mind the more popularist scenic photography of the Burkett and Fatali and Mangeleson type. I have seen quite a bit of this kind of work produced big on the "big is better and more expensive" approach. On the whole it just doesn't work - those saturated desert canyon photos or alpine meadows/sunny snow kissed peak shots often really don't seem to work well when made large - it really highlights their deficiencies as works as a whole and their lack of substantial content and they often come out looking more like that scenic wallpaper you used to be able to buy to put up in the den.

    Compared with something like a very large Sugimoto print and the difference is obvious - one is clearly meant to be very large and the result is sublime. The other shows that if you want to make it big, it better be good.
     
  34. Well I never thought that I'd be defending Fatali, but IMHO those big prints of his and Burketts do work exceedingly well (for what they are).
     
  35. Kevin you stated that, "Photography seems to have adopted a bias for
    miniature works even when the technical barriers for making larger work have
    long gone."

    Part of my reply was," Making really huge prints on the other hand requires
    the use of a large format camera," to which you replied," well - this is a Large
    Format list... " The fact is Kevin that the vast majority of photographs done in
    the last 50 years were done with small to medium format, not large format,
    and that in itself prevents most photographers from making super large prints.

    Kevin, you make it sound so easy to make the facilities to produce super
    large prints with such easy to say statements like" simple- build them". You
    talk about the need for a $20k horizontal enlarger, and giant equipment as
    "just excuses". You forget that you also need a darkroom large enough to
    house such equipment. I have 23' of sink in my darkroom, a Durst 184 10x10
    enlarger and a Beseler 45MXT enlarger and with all that I do not have
    enough room or facilities to print 4x5' prints. Let me ask you, do you
    personally make 4x5' silver prints? Ever make a 24x36" print? If not, why
    don't you? It is so easy after all.

    I was curious if you were the David Gibson that shared gallery representation
    with me at Edward Carter Gallery in NYC, apparently you are not, but it made
    me look into some of your prior postings to see a clue if you were. One
    statement of yours that I came up with that might shed a little light as to your
    POV of the ease with which large prints are made is this post of yours,:

    "D. Kevin Gibson , aug 26, 2003; 06:38 p.m.
    I don't tell people if my prints are Lightjets printed for me by a technician from
    a digital file or enlarger prints printed for me be a technician in the lab. They
    are just dye coupler/chromogenic prints - they don't need to know anything
    else. The printing is just a technical process I pay someone else to do to
    relieve the tedium of it. "

    I guess if you don't do your own printing and instead send your prints out to a
    lab it's really easy then to get super large prints, someone else is doing all the
    work. I guess the "tedium" of darkroom work is something that you're not
    interested in. However I find it really unsettling that you choose to not inform
    people that may choose to buy your work that you did not in fact print it. Not
    to say that you are alone in that practice as many photographers today do not
    print their own work and do not admit to that fact. However I do find that
    deceptive as I have been asked many times by collectors if I have made the
    prints myself, so apparently it is of interest to many of them. But that's just my
    view. How many people out there would prefer to own a print personally
    printed by Ansel Adams or a print printed by a technician?

    As for Clyde Butcher, he is one of the few photographers equipped to make
    super large prints. Most of the photographers showing super large prints did
    not print them. They sent them out to the few exhibition printers who have the
    facilities to do so. I can not state whether Sugimoto's large prints were done
    in his own darkroom or done by or with an exhibition printer, but I'm willing to
    bet it was the latter. Please tell me a few of the "many more" that you know for
    a fact printed the super large B&W prints themselves.


    I stated,""I won't address digital prints because it has been my experience with
    many galleries that most serious collectors prefer traditional prints over
    digital"

    Kevin replied," Again, excuses and bad information" Kevin sorry if I don't
    know what I'm talking about, but in my experience of making my living selling
    prints through galleries and doing business with and speaking with dealers
    and collectors on a daily basis, I must have been misinformed.

    BTW the photographers who you mention that sell digital prints,' Burtynksy,
    Gursky, Struth, Shore, Graham, they shoot predominantly color work.
    Galleries do not have a problem with digital color prints because first off
    traditional color prints were not terribly archival to begin with and because
    very few gallery level photographers who shoot color print them themselves.
    The most notable exceptions being Christopher Burkett and Michael Fatali.
    For a while now the direction that exhibition color prints have gone have been
    to fuji crystal paper. However the discussion was about B&W prints, not color.
    I am curious though as to where you get you information about the gallery/
    collector world is like as apparently all the galleries and collectors that I deal
    with seem to be so misinformed.
     
  36. "you make it sound so easy to make the facilities
    to produce super
    large prints with such easy to say statements like" simple-
    build them". You
    talk about the need for a $20k horizontal enlarger, and
    giant equipment as
    "just excuses". You forget that you also need a darkroom
    large enough to
    house such equipment."

    Like Clyde Butcher - you make your own luck - he got a bargain on his first enlarger. Same here. I got a very nice horizontal enalrger from DeVere whose facility was just down the road in Barnstaple when they had a fire sale of the big enlargers they used to sell to the CIA when digital was coming in big time 15 or so years ago. It certainly didn't cost close to $20K. As for space - three colleagues got together for the lab and darkroom space - one of us was a boatbuilder and we made big big trays out of ply and fiberglass resin from his boat building shop (the third was an ex DeVere tech) - where there is a will there is always a way.

    Yes, I work probably in colour now for 80% of my work now, but for big B&W work, which I still do at times I don't use the lab anymore (dissolved the partnership and gear a few years ago) I work from scanned B&W 4x5 and 5x7 negatives pritned onto fibre based paper digitally - does a great job and I get far more control over the print than was possible inthe darkroom. Prints can go up to 50" on the short side

    "Please tell me a few of the "many more" that
    you know for
    a fact printed the super large B&W prints themselves."

    Adams does for one, same for Burtynskys B&W work, Sally Mann (I think Salgado has a printer now)
     
  37. Kevin if it's so darn easy to print big why do you bother sending them out to a
    lab?

    The whole point I was making was that it is not a small thing to print very
    large. You make it seem like it is nothing yet don't even do any "tedious"
    darkroom work yourself.

    I'm curious about your work, you have no samples online, and when your
    name is googled the only references about you refer to Photonet. Where can
    I see your work?
     
  38. Gotta say, I think the show is pretty good.

    Obviously, the point was to convey a sense of peace and serenity, and the show does. The fact that it can convey this feeling with very large prints, is even more impressive. (larger usually loses subtlety

    Working bigger is harder, as we all know here on the LF forum....

    b.
     

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