Fine Art Photography

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by max_wall, May 29, 2003.

  1. The term "fine art photography" is often mentioned as a type of
    photography enjoyed by some of you, along with travel, scenics,
    street, landscapes, architectural, portrait, etc. . These
    latter types I understand, but fine art is not so clear. How would
    you forum members define it, and what would be examples of
    this interest? Images would be helpful. Thanks.
  2. I avoid the term "fine art photography" for two reasons: 1) as you noted, it's not very useful as a description, and 2) most of the time the term is used to lend some kind of legitimacy to stuff that's really boring.

    [I'm not saying that all "fine art photography" is the same trite nudes/landscapes/still lifes/whatever that I've been sick of for decades, but a fairly strong majority of it is. Just because she's lying on a rock nekkid and it's b&w doesn't automatically make it art!]
  3. Look at a picture I posted under "Please Critique" about half way down. Some people would call this an "art" photo. It is about color, shape, form, texture, otherwise no meaning or story.
  4. Fine art in itself, per Webster's Dictionary = "a visual art created primarily for aesthetic (concerned with emotion and sensation as opposed to intellectuality) purposes and valued for its beauty or expressiveness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, or architecture".

    Pretty vague and protenious, if you ask me.

    There is certainly some inflation in the use of the word, e.g. it is also widely used by different vendors/providers to describe high quality products that they want you to pay a premium for, e.g. "fine art photogrpahy printing paper".

    Then there is the academical use, e.g. Bachelor of Fine Arts

    Net/net: I would never describe any art as 'fine art'.
  5. I have a B.A. Hons in Fine Art (Photography). But don't ask me to answer your question. Rules are meant to be broken, fine art wise, like Ansel Adams did, like Nan Goldin does. As soon as you define it, it moves on.
  6. What Mike and Patrick said.

    It's a meaningless term, like most labels. It requires defining both "art" and the "fine(ness)" of the "art". Hardly possible.

    As far as a category, it's the same as "miscellaneous".
  7. Rules are meant to be broken

    Who makes the rules? Should i follow their thoughts? Why?
  8. Yep,
    I'd vote for that one as classic "fine art".
  9. Whenever you take a lousy photo print it with black borders on double weight paper and selenium tone it so it will be archival. A couple hundred years from now the only prints left will be those processed like that. You'll be famous.
  10. It seems so many who post here are distrustful of the word "Art" and generally speaking, I think this is true of the American public. But,I've never been clear why? One thing I'm pretty sure of is the average viewer equates "beauty" and easy-to-understand with something artful. This would likely explain the popularity of Impressionism. It might also explain the proliferation of mostly prosiac flower pictures seen on and at local craft/art fairs.

    I feel strongly that most true art presents a vision that has a context within the history of art; requires some intellectual processing beyond just the visual; will likely confuse or piss off the average viewer.

    For those of you who would like to read an articulate damnation of contemporary art and the people who control it, I would recommend a very short book by Tom Wolfe entittled the, "The Painted Word". He wrote a similar book on architecture called, "From Bauhaus to Our House".

    The bottom line is whatever you think is artful, is. Although one must be prepared for disagreement.
  11. Define, who made that word up. Art is not about 'Define'.
  12. Art is about those strange folk. They can look further around the corner than most.
  13. Allen,

    I think your last comment is right on target. Art is about seeing what others don't...or can't.
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The term "fine art" comes from artists who use sandpaper on their canvas. "Fine art" uses 150-180 grit sandpaper. "Extra fine" art uses 220-240. "Medium art" uses 80-120. "Coarse art" uses 40-60. The translation to photography is in grain, with corresponding terminology. I don't know why you all have to yack so much about such a simple subject.
  15. Mike - surely a photographer of your experience should know that you can't get 'em to pose nekkid on the rock unless you tell them it's "fine art". ;-)
    Jeff - grit explanation.
    Max - I've seen everything from nudes (some artistic, some not so) to flowers stapled to a dog's rump described as "fine art". On the Web, the only thing useful about calling them "fine art nudes" is to differentiate between those and blatant pornography. Thus, it's a term that is usually understood by "art models". Maybe it's one of those know-it-when-you-see-it things. ;-)
    fine art? who knows
  16. I have exhibited in a dealer gallery situation for 8 years and have had several public gallery exhibitions including one which toured for 2 and a bit years. I am currently enroled in a Masters in Fine Arts programme. This programme is half research based and half course work.<p/>
    The more I look at my earlier work, I am afraid to say, it isn't what's called, 'art'. I asked the question specifically in a critique a couple of weeks ago, and the answer came back, 'if it isn't concept based it isn't what we call art'. So, this counts out most of what most people consider art, traditional portraits, landscape, architectural photgraphy and so on.<p/>
    To stir things up, Sherman and Kruger's work is art, even if they are portraits; Misrach and Mann's work is considered art even if they're landscapes; Gursky's architecture is, and so on. They are artists who work conceptually. In many ways, Cartier Bresson's recourse to draw, might be considered an act of art. Not because he is practising a known and accepted art-form, but, because he's making a statement through his actions.<p/>
    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy photography, the darkroom and especially photographs by Cartier Bresson. It's just that the world is bigger than the insular photographic world, with all our camera and lens idolatry (I include myself when I say 'our')... It's a postmodern world - right?
  17. Don't trust anybody who wants to control the definition of what's called "art". The term has a practical, situational based meaning that most people understand and if that isn't good enough for you, then go live on some other planet, please.
  18. I don't think it's as mysterious as all that. The word "fine" in "fine art" is meant in the sense of pure, not high-quality. (Bars of pure gold are stamped "0.999 fine"). Fine art is pure art, which would exclude commercial art or photojournalism or anything else done for any reason other than to simply make art.
  19. "Art"? Art Kane? Art Linkletter? Where's Art Haykin--he used to post on a lot?

    I recommend two books: "But is it Art?" by Cynthia Freeland and "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

    I recommend them because I've read them recently and still remember the titles and authors. It doesn't mean they have any answers but, what the hell...? At least they have "that word" in the titles.

    (You see what happens when the subject comes up?)
  20. "Fine Art" makes about as much sense as "Pop Art." Something is either art or it isn't. Only the viewer can know if what they're viewing is art. But then again, since the outlook and experience of any one person is naturally limited, we must sometimes trust the judgement of others.

    Steve, I saw Nan Goldin's recent show in NYC (it might still be there, I don't know.) Her images -often out of focus, badly exposed... technically flawed, in other words- were still quite moving by themselves, but the slide show was spoiled for me by the shrill Bjork soundtrack.
  21. I like coarse art. Edinburgh, 2001.
  22. Fine art is anything, everything...and nothing. What makes Salgado's (or HCB's) documentary work 'fine art' (which it is considered by many). What makes Ansel Adams (or Ernst Haas for you Leicaphiles) landscapes to be 'fine art'. It's as others have said...fine art is really nothing but anyones photography marketed as 'art'. mention nekkid people on the beach as being trite...but there is a lot of beach photography by the likes of Bunny Yeager (and Betty Page) whose stuff is far more arts, and far more important than any of the nudes on this forum (mine included). To each his own as far as art is concerned. Remember, most of Rembrandts paintings (to bring up something recent) that are considered to be 'fine art' (for a mere 20-30 mil a piece) were in fact no more than commissioned portraits.
  23. Please witness that the most enduring emblems of any culture, at any period, are its works of art. No matter what the country, what the faith, what the politics, the culture uses its best efforts to preserve for its ancestors the items of cultural expression that are perceived as telling the truth that cuts to the heart about life, love, war, anything that moves us vitally. This is art. The term fine is in some ways redundant--if the work is generally and enduringly perceived as art, then is is fine.

    The tiresome cheap ill informed shots that some members of this forum have taken at the posted question equates with some of the ill informed answers some the forum members post in response to technical questions.

    I find so many well reasoned, informed information on this site, it is very nourishing and educational. Those of you who make a mistake in good faith are trying and may need a gentle reminder or correction. But those of you who have nothing more to offer to the world than their prejudiced, biased, rote repetition of some drivel they have read in some "camera magazine" or heard in a bar should pay more attention to the honor of having a free and open forum for discussion on an intelligent and earnest level.
  24. fine art, the over-used oxymoron.

  25. Kevin, I saw a Nan Goldin show ages ago, and like you found the images carried far more meaning than the non-existant technical mastery. It shouldn't be forgotten of course that she can produce excellent technical photographs. As classic case of knowing the rules, then breaking them.
  26. 'Art' means you can get £100 for a print that an editor might give you £5 for.

    'Fine art' means someone you sold it to for £100 gets £10,000.

    Skeptical, who, me? (looks around to see who they're pointing at...)
  27. Bob, I think you misunderstood my meaning. I'm saying that A + B + C does not automatically equal X; I was -not- saying that A + B + C never equals X. The heart of my objection is that some photographers see photos where A + B + C (+ E + F) equals X, then presume that their photos equal X because they included A + B + C. Now it's perfectly clear, right?
  28. Life is not fair, Van Ghogh would say
    Dali used to say life is great.
    I think art is a personal formula, for example:
    Landscapes + national parks + promote the beauty of nature + zonal system and technical genius + public recognition= Ansel Adams
    (I know there are better ways to present this formula or many other artists)
    What I would say is key is that each part of the equation has to be coherent and honest with the artist we depict. The less coherent the artist is with himself, the "less" artistic.
    On problem is that every formula is unique.
    The other problem is the subjectivity of the depiction and the elements we put in the formula, therefore I can see Van Gogh (like many others) cutting his ear off screaming life is not fair, meanwhile Dali was enjoying his life with Gala and the luxuries that his fine art were supplying.

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