Fools Gold

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by allen herbert, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. Is Photography really a serious Art? Photographs are not insured for millions or being stolen in art heists. When have you seen a Photograph behind bullit proof glass? Never. Is there a single Photograph, ever, that is considered to be a work of Art compared to the great work of Art. No.Photography, fools gold? or, at the very best a lesser Art. Or, perhaps an immerging Art form, yet still to be recognized as serious creative Art.
     
  2. To me, the value of photography as an art form isn't measured by some arbitrary monetary value placed on it, rather it's the art of preserving cultural values so we can share in the present and remembered by future generations.
    "A Great Day in Harlem" (1958) is a good example which lead to an Academy Award nominated documentary (1994) and referenced in the movie "The Terminal" (2004).
     
  3. Not another "is photography art?" Is sculpture art? Is painting art?
    To all three - No and yes. No, because it is the work and not the medium that is art. Yes, because any of these can be a medium for great art. And I also disagree with Michael's much too singular definition. Art is not (and photography is not) just a means of preserving cultural values for present and future generatiions. Its purpose is that of an experience, created (and experienced) by the artist, experienced by the viewer.
    What is this nonsense about a bullet proof glass? Great art can be a 3 million dollar Gurtsky photograph or a simple $500 Picasso sketch (price in the 60s, maybe 10 or more times that today), but not requiring a bullet proof glass.
    Art does not care about the medium used, only the result of its application.
     
  4. Allen: Art is not the artifact, though some rare artifacts are the medium through which art happens to be presented (the surface on which a famous painting resides, perhaps). But art is communication. Photography, writing, musical composition, painting, sculpture - all: communication.
     
  5. "In October 2005, a print of White Angel Breadline that Lange signed and gifted to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry in 1936 was auctioned at Sotheby’s for $822,400 (est. $200–300,000), making it the most expensive Lange photograph ever sold."
    Sounds unaffordable enough to me. I wouldn't know what multiplying the price might matter.
     
  6. "Its purpose is that of an experience, created (and experienced) by the artist, experienced by the viewer."
    Arthur, I would say that a photographer records and modifies the experience similar to an audio recordist or motion picture cameraman. This contrasts most other art forms where something is created from nothing.
    The relative contribution of a photographer to the entire experience of the viewer can be debated, and that's where the old adage, paraphrased, comes in: "if you want to make exciting photos, go stand in front of something exciting." - It makes little difference whether the photo is simple but made exciting by its subject, or a complex photo is composed of the collaborative work by many non-photographer contributors.

    I think at least part of the reason photography does not command high value in the art world is the same as any other recorded medium - it's meant to be reproduced and distributed, but that doesn't make it any less of an art form.
     
  7. "To me, the value of photography as an art form isn't measured by some arbitrary monetary value placed on it, rather it's the art of preserving cultural values" Michael.
     
    Monetary values are the measure of worth a piece Art is to society...in a sense a mark of repect/praise expressed in monetary terms. To quote a old saying "money talks".
     
    "This contrasts most other art forms where something is created from nothing". Michael.
     
    Often an Artist will photograph or sketch a subject then they will use their imagination to take that image to another place. I do not think something is created from nothing there is always an external import.
     
    "Not another "is photography art?" Is sculpture art? Is painting art?
    To all three - No and yes. No, because it is the work and not the medium that is art" Arthur.
     
    This is an old argument and is right in most ways,however,a photograph records what is already there. How it is recorded by the photographer is perhaps the only Art but the creation of a piece of Art from the imagination is going to and challenge a higher celebral place.
     
    "is this nonsense about a bullet proof glass? Great art can be a 3 million dollar Gurtsky photograph or a simple $500 Picasso sketch (price in the 60s, maybe 10 or more times that today), but not requiring a bullet proof glass."Arhur.
     
    The value society puts on that Art.
     
    Photography, writing, musical composition, painting, sculpture - all: communication. Matt
     
    Of course it is all about comminication but does photograhy allow that higher form of communication due to its restictive documentry form?
     
    $822,400 (est. $200–300,000), making it the most expensive Lange photograph ever sold."Jochen
     
    Loose pocket change in the world of Great Art.
    The Photographer restricted in expressing Higher Art (for want of a better word) due to the limitations of a photograph but still believing they can create Higher Art....fools gold? A question rather than an answer.
     
  8. This is an old argument and is right in most ways,however,a photograph records what is already there. How it is recorded by the photographer is perhaps the only Art but the creation of a piece of Art from the imagination is going to and challenge a higher celebral place.​
    You need to go look at more photographs if you think that there's no room there for the photographer to have a vision first, and to then create that vision in front of the camera. Creative people, every day, concoct scenes by pulling together people, objects and other subject matter, making choices about how they relate to one another and how they're lit, and then work on the results in the physical or virtual darkroom to render the image they created first in their mind. Exactly as a writer might spend time selecting the words that render the poem or opera or novel that expresses their vision, or the painter might arrange paint on a canvas to render hers.

    Photographers routinely create images "from the imagination," and often with far more creativity in play than many a painter, sculptor, or performance artist can muster.

    Of course it is all about comminication but does photograhy allow that higher form of communication due to its restictive documentry form?​
    Does a 16x20 watercolor painting necessarily provide for more or better communication through artistic expression than does a 16x20 photographic print because one is a flat surface covered with paint and the other is a flat surface covered with oxidized silver or deposited pigment ink?
     
  9. Michael, I see photography as having much broader potential and imaginative possibilities than those you're expressing.

    Money talks in the commerce of art, not in the art of art.

    Like Arthur, I thought this simplistic debate was put to rest with Stieglitz almost a century ago, but I guess it's easier than actually looking at HOW and WHY we make photos and what our personal approaches are. Much simpler to debate in the abstract what it's "worth."
     
  10. Photos hanging in museum galleries right next to rooms of paintings says as much about photos as art as whatever price
    they generate.

    Subject matter is but one aspect of a photo or a painting. There are limitless ways a given subject can be envisioned.
    While there are grains of truth in the quote about fascinating subjects, it's not the whole story. A wise photographer
    counseled me early on that when I could make a great portrait of a typical or generic-looking person I will have learned
    something of great value . . . not monetary value!
     
  11. Indeed, consumerism infects art like it infects so many other areas of human life. Why does art have to carry a price tag?
     
  12. Is Photography really a serious Art?​
    It depends on what you mean by Photography.
    If you consider it just the same as photography, I'd say No.
    If you consider it a simplified way to refer to Photographic Art, yes it can.
    What can be an object of serious Art is a Photograph or a body of photographic images. it took long to reach the status and some people may continue to say that is not the case or doubt about it, just you seem to do when you raise the question.
    However, not only real works of Art are big exceptions as some photographs considered as such in the so called "Market of Art" and traded a high prices still have to suffer the test of Time and prove they pass it or if they were not just a part of a bubble. But note that this apply to other works of Art the same way.
    Photographs are not insured for millions or being stolen in art heists.​
    You can see Photographs traded for millions (Rhine II, by Gursky for instance was 4.3 million USD in 2011). If it has to be sent somewhere for an exhibition do you think it will not be ensured for millions?
    No matter the amount insurance covers the eventual material losses but it will not repair the loss of a significant work of Art or do you think a money amount will make this loss meaningfulness in cultural terms?
    The fact of a thing being stolen in an art heist doesn't grant it an artistic merit certificate and only means that the robber considers it will pay him a price to justify the risks taken.
    When have you seen a Photograph behind bullit proof glass?​
    I can't say yes or no but let me just ask you a question: if you go to France and visit the Louvre Museum in Paris, how many paintings do you see protected that way?
    Does it mean that the Louvre has the Giaconda protected because is serious Art and all the paintings in the same and next rooms are not?
    Is there a single Photograph, ever, that is considered to be a work of Art compared to the great work of Art.​
    How do you compare the Giaconda to the David of Michaelangelo?
    Do you consider them to be "great works of Art" or just antiques that were considered as such before the appearance of Abstract Art?
    Photography, fools gold? or, at the very best a lesser Art. Or, perhaps an immerging Art form, yet still to be recognized as serious creative Art.​
    "Fools gold" can exist in all categories of the Market of Art and when we look at the collections gathered by some financial institutions (the guys are supposed to be looking for gains) you may ask yourself if they consider Photographic Art as a lesser one or still to be recognized. Or if the MoMA and other important museums around the world continue to bet on the wrong horse decade after decade now.
     
  13. I wonder if the 16x20 framed prints of my photos are covered in my home insurance?
     
  14. I'm sure the cave painters in Indonesia, France, the U.S., Argentina all painted for free. Thousands of years later, their work showed us: there were humans here. They were painting out of a desire to express something, to be creative, a desire I've only seen in humans and possibly in a late cat I used to have.
    Creative expression is the difference between art and non-art. It's the reason we are drawn to a fine photograph or a painting or a good production of a well-written play. Maybe some people will attend a museum to see a recent acquisition that cost zillions; I think most go for the art.
     
  15. a photograph records what is already there. How it is recorded by the photographer is perhaps the only Art but the creation of a piece of Art from the imagination is going to and challenge a higher celebral place. (Allen)​
    Allen, Michael is saying something similar. I am referring back a page or so in this OP as I haven't had time to read the later comments, except for Fred's comments with which I agree.
    Of course, the statement you and michael make about photography is not at all true when we are talking photographic art, it is only true when you talk about the simple reproductive capacity of the photographic medium when used without active creativity. Photographic art is indeed imagination and creation.
    Most art in photography I am familiar with is created by the photographer. He may bring certain physical elements into the field of view and/or dispose them differently than before and according to his imagination. He may research a subject matter and look at it from all angles, compositions and light until he sees what he is looking for or intending. It is not passive click-click as you seem to say. Much thought goes into successful photographic art. Often more so than in sculpture or painting, as the skilfull use of techniques of the latter two often contribute more to the creation than the artist's intention or imagination. This is not true for great paintings or sculptures, but I see a lot of less intelligent, less emotive and less creative works even in the hands of acknowledged or high paid masters.
     
  16. OP: "Is Photography really a serious Art?"
    So "is photography art?" isn't the question.
    Nor was the question "what is art?"
    There are plenty of art forms not taken all that seriously. Is photography one of them?
    Although some spend to preserve a few photographs for posterity, and although most acknowledge that photographs evidence imagination and creativity, and so forth, is photography a really serious Art? Is there generally even on tenth of one degree deprecation of photography compared to the so called serious art forms? If so, then photography isn't perceived as being as serious an art form as some others. If so, part of the reason may be in that suggested images may be perceived as having higher value than something presented statically in a photograph, suggesting an image being harder to achieve in photography than in story, poems, drama, painting, music....
     
  17. I did a search on the definition of “high art” and found a paper by Lawrence Nannery written on the subject. Good photography certainly “fits the bill” according to his list of the things that characterize “high art.” There is also a lot of "low art" photography, of course. Look up any definition of art and it refers to the expression of human creativity and imagination.
    Let's make a list of the things that characterize high art and distinguish it from low art.
    1. Complexity of formal properties.
    2. Complexity of the responses to the works, which sometimes have no name.
    3. The fact that a full and fuller understanding of the work (either the form or the content) allows for an ever fuller enjoyment of the work. One has to gradually grow into the work. It does not reveal everything it has in one exposure.
    4. The fact that a full understanding of the work can enhance an understanding of other aspects of life as well.
    5. The fact that great works of high art are cross-cultural. They can be enjoyed by people of other cultures who have no other experience of the culture that generated the great work. Each great work of art is potentially a work of world art, not subject to the conditions of its composition.
    6. If, according to 5, the work does not fade with distance, it is also true that it does not fade with time.
    7. Works of high art are deeply related to morality, in the widest sense of the term, and sometimes problematize morality itself.
    8. High art has a history, in which styles, techniques, genres and the entire orientation of the work of art is changed. Properly speaking, low art has no history.
    9. Works of high art are individual. They bespeak a personality behind the work. Low art is best when it is anonymous.​
    http://faculty.frostburg.edu/phil/forum/HighArt.htm
     
  18. Are high art photographs really a serious Art, as serious with respect to the value society puts on high art photography compared to the value society puts on other high art forms?
    I think that is the OPs question and that it is a fair question whose answer is well known: no, high art photographs aren't taken as seriously as other high art forms. They just aren't. Why?
     
  19. I summit to you a list of "Artist" that you can learn the "Art of Photography" from if you are willing to do the research:
    Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Cole Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Alfred Steiglitz,Edward Steichen, Man Ray, Robert Maplethorp, Harry Callahan, Diane Arbus, Walker Evan Henri & Cartier-Brsson. Just to mention a few.
    This is a list of great photographer who created "Art" weather or not "under glass" or has sold for millions of dollars. You might get it after serious study of any or all of these people/artist! Keep shooting, Nolan Hulsey
     
  20. The question, as I read it, is whether photography is a serious art. I don't speak for society and, in many cases, don't particularly care what society or most of society thinks. Most of society cares more about American Idol than Nan Goldin. That's interesting sociologically speaking, but not as interesting photographically speaking, to me. What curators, historians, critics, other photographers and artists, and what I think are much more important when determining the artistic value of photography. Not everything is or should be decided by the masses or by what rich people will pay money for.
     
  21. Why aren’t photographs taken as “seriously” as other high art forms? Well, as Fred points out, they certainly are amongst “curators, historians, critics, other photographers and artists.” As far as the monetary value issue, it may be the perception that the fact photographs can be printed repeatedly may be to blame somewhat. There is also the mistaken perception that the camera is “doing all the work” may also be a factor. Monetary value aside though, most of us realize that a great photograph takes just as much creativity and imagination as any other art form.
     
  22. At my local art museum: The Art Institute of Chicago photography is displayed regularly, both classic and contemporary. It is treated there with as much attention as other graphic arts.
     
  23. I went to an art show in NYC a few years ago. I saw at least three copies of Adam's Moonrise Hernandez prints going from around $70,000 to $140,000 from different dealers there. What would the price be for Moonrise if there was only print in existence?
     
  24. Part of it among those curators et al, may be that photographs are (are they?) less durable over time. Less longevity for dyes, inks, the papers, etc.?
    More fundamentally, comparing high art to high art, any differences in that comparison using the High Art list from Steve?
    No difference in complexity of properties and responses? No differences in fullness of understanding necessary to allow for ever fuller enjoyment of the works? (Would it be a negative if photographic art was more accessible to public at large because in part it wasn't, objectively, as full?) Compare the same as to cross-culturalness or fading with time? (Fading with the times - and with time - a risk higher somewhat for photography art? Kinda sorta?) As to cross cultural, does photographic art translate as readily? ??? History and interconnectedness across the arts is probably the same with photography as with any other; and same as to being works of individuals. But do we have sufficient history with photography as art to really say with certainty that in all those listed elements photographic art is absolutely on par with all those better established forms? Or are we beyond such reservations by now?
     
  25. The OP associates high art with exclusivity, rarity and high monetary value, but those are only partial attributes mostly controlled by a handful of people. You can make photography rare and exclusive in the hopes of commanding high prices, and many have tried, but that neither augments nor diminishes it as an art form.
    Academic institutions have acknowledged photography to be high art which in itself should be adequate validation.
     
  26. No one would reasonably argue that the entire [set] of fired clay pots doesn't include members that are Art. Can the best such example compare to Michelangelo's David as to fullness of expression and the degree of nuanced communication?
    At a photography show I saw for sale, about $6K, small photographs upon which the artist had embroidered. She added texture to her photographs, the tactile sense spoken directly to, a fuller experience. Whatever the photographer felt she needed to express, an unembroidered photograph wasn't sufficient, wasn't serious enough although she made it so, bent the photograph to her purposed sense of expression.
    That example speaks to a limitation of the photographic art form. I don't see adding embroidery as too much different from adding text to photographs, adding text some have done when addressing photography's limitations as an art form.
    Music has changed over the centuries as we adapted music for whatever it was we wanted to express. Maybe in the realm of the 3d printer, that tool adapted together with photographs...to say more, or to say whatever more easily?
     
  27. Charles, I'd be careful about placing too much emphasis on longevity. Early classical music performances were every bit as much high and serious art as the notes that were written down, and those unrecorded performances were gone the moment the audible music stopped, except in the minds and hearts of the audience fortunate enough to be present. Look at so many Greek statues populating our museums with missing heads and limbs. That's a testament to the fragility of some art and it doesn't make it non-art. All of those were art long before they had a long history. Art does NOT have to stand the test of time and it does NOT have to be cross-cultural. It can be short-lived and much more locally understood. As much as anything else, art is about our relationship to an object or experience. The minute we try to restrict it in terms of such guidelines as age or widespread understanding, we risk making a rule the artist or art world will find a way to break. From the Nannery essay quoted above: "Works of high art are individual." Baloney, of course! Some of our greatest art works have been collaborations.
    ______________________________________________________
    To me, the very notions of "high" and "low" art are kind of abhorrent and probably have a basis in classism, racism, and other ugly human traits.
     
  28. Sure, high and low being provisionally accepted by me for arguments sake. And the argument I make, the question of the OP as I read it, had more to do with how photographic art is received compared to other art forms. Allen seeming to argue it was less well received although the evidence he presented to make that case was weak.
    And I don't argue that photographic art isn't art, just like I wouldn't argue that the harpsichord isn't capable of being used in Artistic expression just because the piano forte replaced it, preferred by composers for it's superior dynamic range. Can films meaningfully be analogized to the piano forte in regard to film having augmented still photography's capacity for dynamic story telling, where stills are more staccato-like time compressions viewed one at a time? But I do think that the question of fragility and longevity is relevant if value means received well enough to justify preservation, the cost of preservation being significant.
    And with respect to my camera, which is still and video. There were sequences better expressed in single shots, but some of those sequences were better expressed in video. One thing, the David, sculpture probably compares better to a still. Hmmm. So what's the difference between a good form study in a still photograph v. a statue? Hmmm. Not much I suppose, if any.
    Never mind, ah, sort of.
     
  29. The OP mentioned "Art" (don't know why it's capitalized) a bunch of times and then "serious creative art." I did not take that, nor do I understand why it would be taken to mean, the more academic term "high art." I took the OP to be wondering about how seriously photography should be taken as an art form and what value photos have.
    I never thought of film as replacing still photography. To me, they are simply two different mediums. I don't see the analogy to harpsichord/piano. Murals aren't a replacement for painting and sculpture installations aren't a replacement for individual sculptures. If composers, for the most part, have stopped composing for harpsichords, that's one thing. Since still photos are still appearing in museums, galleries, and studios throughout the world, it might be premature to declare that something has yet replaced them.
    I'm not sure why a conclusion would be drawn about the communicative effectiveness of photos because photos are accompanied, in some cases, by text or embroidery. Duchamp's Fountain was accompanied by a full manifesto. That simply becomes part of the story and experience of the art. It doesn't make part of it weaker. Do Man Ray's collages with photos make the medium of photography weaker or expand the medium? Some playwrights give more stage direction than others and some composers provide more dynamic and tempo instructions than others. Do the latter of each group create weaker works of art because of the accompanying instructions? No, IMO, those instructions become a part of the creation, just as text meant to accompany a photo is part of the fuller creation.
     
  30. >>> Is Photography really a serious Art?

    I don't see why a particular medium should not be included. Consider, for example, a wood rocking chair
    by Sam Maloof, a Ruth Asawa sculpture made of wire, a glass basket by Dale Chihuly, frames created by
    Roy De Forest to wrap around his paintings, or Newcomb College Pottery vases designed by (relatively)
    unknown artists. I haven't put a lot of thought into it, but can't imagine a field or medium that would be
    necessarily excluded.
     
  31. Just for the record, I threw in the Nannery quote for the sake of argument, as Charles mentions. Like Fred, and for the same reasons, I really don't discriminate between "high art" and "low art." As I said above, every definition of art basically focuses on art as a human expression of creativity and imagination. In the TED talk on creativity by Sir Ken Richardson mentioned in another thread, he asserts that children are born artists, in a sense. Art and creativity in general are human traits and are probably responsible for our survival on this planet. To maintain that one form of art is more valuable or important than another is just vanity.
     
  32. OK, just vanity, but too, the creative process includes self-doubt in the form of a sort of diminishing inner jury that isn't easily dismissed and probably doesn't reduce to an attribute of culture. It took me a long time to adjust to taking a camera out where the inner jury would say "But what is there to take a picture of?" After taking it out daily for some time I could honestly say to that jury: you're wrong, there's always something out there that I enjoy taking a picture of. The jury was there, but at least I had some grounding in experience from which to form a reply. Nevertheless, the jury's annoying yet.
     
  33. Steve, yes, I understood that, but thanks for clarifying. Was just addressing the quote itself.
    By the way, I haven't looked at the TED talk, but preceding Richardson:
    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. —Pablo Picasso​
    One of the tasks of the artist can be to look at the world with a fresh pair of eyes. The wonder we often see in children's eyes is something we can often feel from a good artist.
     
  34. Charles, I wonder if it's worth considering that a photo isn't always a picture of, even if it seems to be. I often look at a photo and think of the photo itself as the subject rather than the subject being something the camera takes a picture of. Hell, sometimes the subject of the photo isn't even seen within the frame. Sometimes it's the photographer behind the lens. Sometimes other things not shown. The IS NOT of a photo and many other works of art can be as important as the IS. Making it have to be a picture of something restricts it to a literalness which may be burdensome at times. What if it's sometimes a picture, period . . . remove the of, the need for a referent.
     
  35. Fred I'm still absorbing that Avedon's Juan Patricio Lobato, Carney, Rock Ford, Colorado, August 23, 1980 isn't all that different than a David, or that some of the paintings I've viewed of street scenes long ago aren't all that different from street photography, etc. etc. But yeah, if all we wanted was literalness then for a landscape we would just knock another hole in the wall and be happy.
     
  36. Is Art serious about photography or is he merely silly about it?
     
  37. I'm still absorbing that Avedon's Juan Patricio Lobato, Carney, Rock Ford, Colorado, August 23, 1980 isn't all that different than a David, or that some of the paintings I've viewed of street scenes long ago aren't all that different from street photography, etc. etc.​
    Oh, I think they're very different. And the time, craft, and painstakingness of creating a David is very different from the kinds of skill that go into creating a photographic portrait. I didn't mean to suggest they're not all that different. Likewise Hopper's street scene paintings compared to, say, Brassai's street photography, both of which I love. I am suggesting they're all art, serious art, high art, whatever term we want to choose. Avedon, by the way, though I recognize his unique abilities and his significant additions to the portrait genre and though I learn a lot from him, is not among my favorite photographers. Though his was a stark and committed vision, it's a bit cold for me. I saw his American West exhibition at least a couple of decades ago here in San Francisco, and the portrait you chose is among the ones that move me most. It doesn't match the breathlessness and awe I felt when standing in front of Michelangelo's David in Florence. Off hand, I have experienced that kind of awe when seeing some of the Stieglitz portraits of O'Keeffe, especially in print.
     
  38. On second thought, maybe the degree of awe was greater for the statue of David than for the portraits of O'Keeffe, and perhaps because of the painstakingness and, importantly, the history and my own anticipation of it, but I don't determine what's serious art by degree of awe or by the built up history. There's a wide range of awesomeness available. Like I said above, for me, wonder is often a key ingredient of the artistic experience.
     
  39. Oldest art ever discovered almost half a million years old. Geometric scratchings basically. Maybe some day they'll find our scratchings as well.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141203-mussel-shell-oldest-art/
     
  40. All creativity is Art with a capital letter that is my thought. However, Photography seems to be the Cinderella of Art. It lacks any serious value in the Art world.
    Let us look at the investment in Art and look at the comparisons compared with Photographic Arts. Private investment compared with other Arts.....pennies, cents?
    Probably the most popular Art where individuals can express their vision.....but really it is about the unwashed masses who do not have a clue about Art. More concerned abour some craft of technological excellent...and the Art is poor the lost brother. Is photography about a click of a button and the latest cam....
    Or, is it ever being capable of being a real Art? and recognized as such?
     
  41. In the real Art world , photographic Art...what is that a scribble on some cheap paper.
    Oil painting to hang in your home or a photograph print....think about it in honesty.
    HCB is a great among the Art of photography...yet when he was not financially pressured turned to the brush to express himself.
     
  42. I have blind faith because I want to believe, And faith is blind because faith is about believing and comes from the soul.
    But my believe is all what matters, because I read it somewhere and my mates think the same because someone told us so....and they have a connection with the big bloke...
    So, there.
     
  43. A final thought.
    A photographic portrait of a person a single photograph which can change and change a again dependent on mood of photographer and subject.
    A painting of that person, an act of imagination, from the inner feeling of perception, understanding, the feel of that soul.... a treasure given by imagination. The brush, the paint, the texture...A creative act. Escaping from the documentry.
    The culmination of understanding.... imaginatively created from a higher function in our brain capacity. The mind coming together to complete, a completeness, not a single factual documentry image.
    To create this from a single documentry imagine....is an expression of blind faith. The documentry image ....., or, the perception of the imagination, understanding, turned into a image of creativity....revealing truths beyond factual documentry.
     
  44. Just some thawtz ....

    Photography is basically born yesterday [or just this morning].
    There are works of 'modern art', very different from 'classics'
    that preceded them, and these modern works are a full 100
    years younger than photography. These young works change
    hands for millions at auction, but they somehow share a long
    history of centuries or even millennia with other 'plastic arts'
    [art resulting in an 'art object'].

    Photography, whatever else it may also be, is printmaking. If
    pricing of "art objects" is at least one of many paradigms by
    which we judge "Art", then compare photos to other graphics
    and serigraphs, NOT to paintings, etc.

    Not all those antique mega valuable items in Art Museums
    were Works-of-Art when they were originally produced by
    those commissioned [or forced] to craft them. Especially
    the cave paintings, do not [likely] reflect a creative nature
    nor an urge to communicate. They are generally believed
    to serve as ceremonial, religious, or superstitious totems
    to ensure material well being [successful hunt or harvest],
    or to instruct novitiates in the communal belief system.
    "Decorative Arts" such as neolithic bead work may in some
    instances be for tribal identity or to "bring luck" but sooner
    or later such decoration came to be something done for no
    other reason than to please the eye. Pleasing the eye is not
    enuf to qualify as High Art or Fine Art, yet surviving pieces
    of such decorative art are valued partly for their sheer age
    of antiquity, but also as "artistic expression".

    A lotta what we now value a high art may have been simply
    Skilled Craft in its time of origin.

    There are at least two kinds of "Fool's Gold": Iron Pyrite and
    Aurum. I'm not speaking from, nor promoting, asceticism.

    In case you fail to grasp whatever argument I'm possibly
    making or supporting, forget it. I'm just thinking out loud,
    as the thread title apparently encourages.
     
  45. Calling it "high art" or "low art" is just another way of beating up on people who wish to express themselves and their imaginations in aesthetic, emotional and spiritual ways. Almost all of us will not have the ability of Michelangelo or Adams. However, rather than trying to bring down the whole effort with negative thoughts and protestations, why not praise all of us who do the best we can to bring beauty and meaning to this world?
     
  46. I think one can (and perhaps should) praise the effort without necessarily praising the result. Many devote serious time and effort to photography, to painting, and to sculpture. And I might praise their dedication and seriousness while recognizing that many of the results of that labor may not be art and may not be any good. Saying someone is not an artist or not a good photographer is not beating up on them. Why would it be?
    Many great photos don't bring beauty into the world, since beauty is not what a lot of photos are about. But regardless of that, people might try very hard to bring beauty into the world and not succeed. What might be said about that? it could constructively and lovingly be something short of praise.
     
  47. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is art. Threads like these just smack of elitism.
     
  48. Well if what is art is to be determined in the way that so much is in our society, namely the lucre people are willing to pay for it, then rest assured all you aspiring art photographers that there are photographic prints selling in the 2-4 million USD range. A few created by Cindy Sherman for one, and a few other photographers. Can anyone seriously say that any particular medium is makes or doesn't make it art?
     
  49. Threads like these just smack of elitism.​
    That's one way to look at it, if you're so inclined. I prefer to keep art separate from what's merely popular or from what anyone who has an opinion thinks is great. Popularity has its place, just not in terms of aesthetics or art. Otherwise, Thomas Kinkade would be a supreme artist and American Idol audience voting would become the arbiter of the aesthetic day. There has to be some difference between art and crap. A lot of people like crap. That's not art. It's bad taste. Why do school drama clubs still hold auditions for their theater performances instead of letting anyone play any part? I suppose all this is elitism . . . or maybe it's just life. It might be all rosy and sweet to tell every athlete "You're a winner" and stop keeping score in baseball and football games, very democratic, but it wouldn't be much fun and it wouldn't create an atmosphere of excellence. Let's stop awarding gold medals at the next Olympics so no one can claim they're a better athlete than anyone else. Being able to judge art good or bad despite the effort put into it might or might not be elitist. If recognizing excellence and expertise is elitist, then so be it. But it's also realistic and honest. Telling every photographer who tries hard that their work, because of that trying, is a success and it's art would be a sham. Most photography, most painting, and most sculpture is not art! And that is OK with me. It doesn't make it valueless by any stretch of the imagination. Photos and paintings can have other value besides monetary and besides being called "art." "Art" is not a term of validation. It's a term of a particular type of human appreciation and not everything you or I wants or likes falls under that umbrella.
     
  50. "Let's stop awarding gold medals at the next Olympics so no one can claim they're a better athlete than anyone else"
    Using the Olympics is a poor analogy. Awards there are based mainly on time, speed, who comes in first or who makes more goals. That takes the emotion and inexactitude of opinion that "plagues" art. That's why many use money, the cost of art, as a guideline for what's better. It's the only non-emotional way of doing it. Is it better? Well, ask the guy that paid for it.
    "Popularity has its place, just not in terms of aesthetics or art."
    Regarding Kinkade, why can't popular work be artistic as well? Because there are millions of Sinatra fans, does that make him any less an artist? Are you saying that millions of people are just dodos because they find inspiration in Sinatra's work or Kinkades'. Who are you to judge? Certainly you have the right to your opinion. But so do they. The moment you say only your opinion counts, well, that's elitism.
     
  51. I purchased a Maggie Taylor (wife of Jerry Uelsmann), work of art last year...you can't even say she's a photographer as she uses scanned images of objects including old tintypes alongside her own photographs in a compilation that's more like a surrealistic montage of parts...so would that be considered art or photography or a photographically manipulated image and will some of these works someday be behind bullet proof glass (will they be valuable enough to be protected)...but certainly works by Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Edward Weston etc., reach lofty heights and are purchased by major museums...but it's taken some time for photography to be considered an art that collectors would pay handsomely for...paintings have a much much longer history of collector interest, in large part due to the medium being available for centuries before photography...
     
  52. Alan, sorry you misunderstood me. I did not say good artists, like Sinatra, cannot be popular or that being popular disqualifies something from being art. I said being popular is not the way to tell if something is art. I hope you can appreciate the difference. Oh, and do you really believe that the judges' scoring in the Olympics is done without emotion or politics playing a role? What art and athletics have in common, IMO, is greater than their differences.
    _______________________________________________________
    The Sinatra example is actually helpful. It may well be that Kinkade is as popular and well-liked as Sinatra. Which, to me, is proof that popularity and public opinion should not be used to judge art, since Sinatra is a great musical artist and Kinkade is not an artist at all. Kinkade is a popular commercial painter who took a cliché formula, repeated it endlessly, and appealed to people's sense of "pretty", not beauty.
     
  53. Certainly you have the right to your opinion. But so do they.​
    I don't see this as being about anyone's rights. If someone wants to like Kinkade, that's fine with me. If I were teaching an art course, I'd teach the class why Kinkade is not an artist. You and I both have a "right" to call a table a chair and we both have a right to call Kinkade an artist and we both have a right to like Kinkade or not like Kinkade. But, if you were to call that chair over there a table (in the traditional sense of table, unless you were using the chair as a table at the time), I'd say you were wrong. And if you were to call Kinkade a good artist, unless you're being sarcastic, I'd also say you were wrong. A chair may become a table because of the way we use it in a particular instance. But, generally, it doesn't aid communication to go around calling chairs tables. It also doesn't aid communication or an understanding of art to accept as art anything anyone calls art.
     
  54. The quality of a figure skater, a ballerina, or any performance artist is judged by objective criteria where even artistic expression must contain elements of some performance difficulty. No performer will be able to get away with nonsense and expect to be broadly acknowledged as an artist. Gradations in excellence is easy to spot with little disagreement.
    Closer to our domain, the quality of work by a cinematographer is also judged through objective criteria on technical merit and where artistic expression must also include elements of imagination, orginality and creativity; they can't just repeat the same old thing and expect to become Academy Award recipients - arguably the highest honor achievable. Gradations in excellence is also easy to spot with little disagreement.
    Photography, on the other hand, is fraught with intractable disagreements about what constitutes art that often ignores any consideration over applicable objective criteria including technical merit, degree of difficulty, high level expression, imagination and creativity to the extent that anything and everything can equally be proclaimed art, or dismissed as non-art. Crap is easy to spot but not often acknowledged, and likely highly prejudiced by commerce, hence gradations in excellence can not exist but as a blur.
    To me, there are exceptions. There's no arguing examples of Nikon or Hasselblad competition winners' photos or Nat. Geo. photos and the likes are of high quality and constitutes art, and probably chosen based on similar judging processes as with most any high level performance art; a common crappy picture just isn't going to cut it no matter how much praise it gets in Internet forums.
     
  55. Michael, though I agree with some of what you say, I just don't see why we'd separate photography from all the other media or disciplines. Photography is no more "fraught with intractable disagreements" than any of the others. And there are plenty of juried photographic competitions, which would be like the Academy Awards, where the standards of excellence are made quite clear . . . for better or worse, of course.
    ___________________________________________________
    I'm not saying it's easy to judge art and I disagree that the judging of art is done by scientific or objective criteria, because it's not. Criteria vary and certainly change over time. The only compelling reason I've heard why photography may not be as accepted as other art forms and may not command as much in dollars is because of its relative newness on the scene of art, not to mention that many other artworks are one-of-a-kind whereas there can be several authorized prints of a given photograph. But the notion that there's something inherently less artistic or aesthetic about photography, to me, is a figment of the imagination and shows a real lack of empathy with photographic sensibility and potential.
    And I'd again caution against assigning too much artistic merit to degree of difficulty. Some great art is quite simple to make, and that's fine and there is plenty of room for that in the world of art.
     
  56. "I disagree that the judging of art is done by scientific or objective criteria, because it's not."
    Just about everything that is produced for sale and judged subjectively has gone though a rigorous process of scrutiny by way of scientific methods and objective criteria assessment - the taste of food and beverages, aesthetic design of packaging, automotive ergonomics and aesthetics, even the service industry is evaluated by focus groups or folks in lab coats jotting down their experiences and grading on paper for further analysis.

    Of course there's no such need for common photography, or for that matter a home cooked meal, but that doesn't mean a critical response to such an experience therefore makes it definitively one way or another.
    How would you subjectively critique a hamburger that I proudly made? Would you say it's not bad considering my still-developing culinary skills? or will it be god-awful compared to that Kobe steak burger you had in NYC, or your own homemade burger? Will our social relationship have any bearing on your judgement? These factors become the basis of intractable disagreements because every comment lacks context, so they become simply words without much relational meaning to whatever it is under scrutiny.
    I don't entirely dismiss purely subjective impressions, though, because for the most part that's all we have to go on, so I tread softly in the minefield of discovering truth through interpretations.
     
  57. Just about everything that is produced for sale and judged subjectively has gone though a rigorous process of scrutiny by way of scientific methods and objective criteria assessment​
    Right, and art, as a form of human expression, is different from just about everything.
     
  58. "Right, and art, as a form of human expression, is different from just about everything."
    Can't argue with that, Fred, so the intractable disagreements will continue and we'll never run out of material to maintain long and repetitious threads. :)
     
  59. I guess I don't see them as "intractable disagreements" and don't see the threads as repetitious any more than, say, a Bach fugue is repetitious. The threads are opportunities for sharing and fine tuning our appreciation of photography and art. I often find there's as much agreement as disagreement in many of these discussions. Seeming disagreements are often simply nuancing or exploring the fine points of actual agreement. And any repetitiveness can be offset by a slow kind of transformation, with one idea linked to the next but altered enough potentially to give the discussion some depth and import.
     
  60. Well said, Fred, but these discussions can often manifest itself into the difference between didactic and dialectic where most folks appear to favor the latter.
     
  61. Michael, my own experience of this thread is a good one. In talking to Alan, I took a stand against a purely subjective assessment of what is art and what is good art. Though "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" can be a helpful insight, it's also got limitations, especially when "beauty" is confused with "pretty" and also when it's used as a simple platitude that catches all with it. For me, art is not whatever anyone wants to say is art and good photography is not whatever anyone's opinion tells them it is. At the same time, I've disagreed with you that there are strict objective and scientific criteria by which we can judge all this. So that puts me in a position of having to put in a lot more thought of how something can be not completely subjective and not objective enough to become a science. I don't expect absolute conclusions from these discussions but rather stimulation to move forward in my thinking and to ask good questions and consider more possibilities. I disagree with those who've claimed photography doesn't have as much value as other arts but also paid attention to why they might think that, which helps me understand their position, even though I think it's wrong.
     
  62. The purpose of this post was to challenge photography as Art. And is it really Art? Or, just a copy of what already exists. Okay, we put in our individual transfer copy......
    But does not the real Artists move far beyond the simple documentry image...a copy. They take all life's experience and turn it into a culmination of experience/knowledge/creative imagination as they perceive it...
    Is that real Art? Or, should we say " I like photography and I have pressed a button". Art.
    What do you think?
     
  63. I offer no apology to anyone I have upset by my seeking understanding and knowledge....and have a deep respect for those who have challenged my thoughts. Thank you.
     
  64. "also paid attention to why they might think that, which helps me understand their position, even though I think it's wrong."
    Not emotion but a understanding of this thread.
     
  65. It is all about seeking truths.
     
  66. "Is Art serious about photography or is he merely silly about it?"
    Just love those words.
     
  67. In the real world...
    I wonder how much financial investment is invested in emerging talented photographers. Then compare that with the rest of the Arts...
    Are we Cinderella still looking for silver shoes.
    Are we really the fools gold?
     
  68. Sorry about posting in bits but I think in bits.
    Let us deal with all forms of creativity are equal...powerful argument. But in the real world just a silly fantasy which has a nice cozy sound bite.
    The truth is a bog cleaner in your office, no matter how talented/ creative in their work he/she is in removing hard core brown stuff. will never, ever, be anything than a brown stuff cleaner with what is considered a minor talent. Society recognizes certain approved talents and their percieved ability to be a form of a higher functions of a state of being. We are not all equal in the eye of God or anything else....think of the low salary, lack of respect for the brown stuff cleaner...bur Picasso....
    The Art is in the approved medium.
    Photograhy still " Please Sir can I have some more".
     
  69. A photo that cost you $300 which you hung in your den and provides a smile, a feeling of escape, a sense of warmth in your heart, is as much art as that $30,000 Manchu urn you bought in Peking during your trip to China. Maybe more so. Art is very personal and what inspires one person might not inspire another. It is for this reason I always say that it is art if the viewer calls it art not the producer. Or a third party. And it's a waste of time to argue about what another person considers art or what its spiritual and emotional importance means to them.
     
  70. Allen, your comments betray a certain biases. One is that the financial value is what determines the value of “art” for one thing. Another is your belief that photography is nothing more than pressing a button and documented something. A third bias is that “all forms of creativity are equal is just a silly fantasy.” You are certainly entitled to these beliefs, however, a lot of us simply do not buy into these particular beliefs. We all have our own fantasies, and you’ve made yours quite clear.
     
  71. Every definition I found of “art” pretty much boils it down to: “the human expression of imagination and creativity.” We are born with this. Without this natural creativity, we would still be hunters and gatherers, or extinct. Our innate ability to be creative is what drives scientific breakthroughs, which often change the course of human culture, for better or worse sometimes. If we survive our own hubris, it will be our capacity to be creative and imaginative that will help provide the answers to our dilemmas such as food shortages and over population. Because we are born creative, we all have the natural ability to express this in some way if encouraged. For children it comes natural. As adults, some have found that a camera is a perfect way to explore the natural desire to be creative. Some play the piano, or sing, or draw, etc. Photographs are art, because they are the product of human imagination and creativity. Now, inevitably some people will come along and create products of human creativity and imagination are truly exemplary, and some indeed are. There is obviously a continuum between the beginner’s attempts at self-expression and the refined products of someone with talent and experience. Is there a line somewhere between what can be called real art and everything else is not art? If photography is not art, then a simple song written for a girlfriend by a teenager is not art, no matter how original, nor are the multitudes of drawings, paintings, dances, and other expressions of human creativity and imagination that are produced by humans everywhere, because we are “built” to be creative. But who decides what this real art is? Who draws the line? Is it how much monetary value is placed on the creation? Is it how much effort goes into it? Is real art more complicated, or intense, or what? Could it exist in scientific discovery and breakthroughs? Is it the overall impact on society? Some even regard certain sports heros artists because of their naturally gifted talents. To me, humans create all the time, and a lot of this creating is art in one form or another. Its all art, and certainly some of it is really really good. If there is a certain category of this expression that some people have elevated to being “real” art, it seems to me to be a limited way of looking at the world by this group, and heaven help us when it comes to deciding what goes into this special category of “real art.” And what do you call then, the rest of the stuff created by human imagination and creativity?
     
  72. And it's a waste of time to argue about what another person considers art or what its spiritual and emotional importance means to them.​
    No, it's not. At least for me. I've spent a lot of time discussing people's ideas about art and I've learned a lot about other people by doing that, which helps my photography, which is people-oriented. I've learned the art of the interchange of ideas which is what much art and photography are about. This interchange of ideas doesn't have to reduce to "arguing" though good philosophical argumentation has really helped me understand a lot about art and about different ideas of what art is. Since artists communicate and often capture the spirit of their times, it's pretty clear that most artists are to some extent in touch with what people consider spiritually and emotionally important. Artists don't hide their heads in the sand, assuming a world where everyone is an isolated subjectivity. They reach out beyond themselves and meet the viewer head on. Sometimes they invite the viewer in, sometimes they pull the viewer in kicking and screaming. More and more, I'm convinced that art is a relationship and art is steeped in culture and history, and the more individualistic definitions of art leave me cold.
     
  73. Steve, you might find THIS ARTICLE, by George Dickie, interesting. Arthur Danto proposed the "institutional" theory of art, which shows some of the shortcomings (and strengths) to both the representational theory of Plato (which leaves imagination and creativity out of the equation) and the later emotional theories which replaced Plato's.
    My own approach to defining art is not to look for "necessary and sufficient conditions" such as emotion or creativity, or not to look only in that direction, but to kind of see all the different theories of art, including the institutional theory, as a sort of overlapping set of Venn Diagrams. Not all art will have any one characteristic we might want to attribute to art, which may well be the beauty of art. Some folks have suggested that rather than a singular definition, all the various works of art are related similarly to the way family resemblance occurs. One face has a nose sort of like another, one's lips remind one of another, one's hairline is akin to a grandfather's but without being the same. It's more a series of linkages that tie a family's looks together throughout a series of generations. But you wouldn't necessarily say they ALL share THIS or THAT trait. Art may be more like those overlapping (yet varying) links.
     
  74. Fred, thanks for providing the article. I will read it soon!
     
  75. "Allen, your comments betray a certain biases. One is that the financial value is what determines the value of “art” for one thing. Another is your belief that photography is nothing more than pressing a button and documented something. A third bias is that “all forms of creativity are equal is just a silly fantasy.” You are certainly entitled to these beliefs, however, a lot of us simply do not buy into these particular beliefs. We all have our own fantasies, and you’ve made yours quite clear[​IMG]".
    Yes, i have done my very best to be biased towards photography. To understand our art we need to challenge our belief that we are creating art not just producing photo copies of what we have observed. The art world does not really recognize us as true art hence the financial value they put on photographic art...the real world. In the real world it is all about financial value....if you struggle with that concept think about some African child diseased and in poverty...what is their value.....zero.
    Yes, we are created equal, and all creativity is equal...
    The challenge of a photographer is to observe reality and turn it into their art...not just from imagination but to observe and create truths of reality.
    My personal opinion on photography is its real value in portraying real truths percieved or otherwise. Indeed it has a greater hold on real truths than any other medium of art. Hence, the real values of photography the portray of truth in a factual way as opposed to a fairy tale of imagination.
    The reality of truth is always present in any photograph.
     
  76. Peter Lik Photo Sells for 6.5 Million. How?

    Les Berkley [​IMG][​IMG], Dec 10, 2014; 12:41 p.m.
    "Oh why can't I get a bigger ego? Seems to be all it takes in this case. For God's sake, it's a picture of Antelope Freaking Canyon! The are only a couple million such in existence. Am I envious? Of course; who isn't? Swagger around, show off your big, uh, tripod and there you go. Okay, Lik is technically competent, and knows how to get the looks-good-in-a-thumbnail super saturated colors. Not knocking this at all, but really--more than Adams or HCB or McCurry (who at least took real risks) or Gene Smith or Joel Meyerowitz?"
    Wonder why I posed the question of "Fools Gold" when there so little respect we have for have for each other.... our fellow photographers..
    If photography is really going to be art then it is only about the golden oldies....the new stuff is crap. As that poster spouted.
    Sad.
     
  77. "I purchased a Maggie Taylor (wife of Jerry Uelsmann), work of art last year...you can't even say she's a photographer as she uses scanned images of objects including old tintypes alongside her own photographs in a compilation that's more like a surrealistic montage of parts...so would that be considered art or photography or a photographically manipulated image and will some of these works someday be behind bullet proof glass (will they be valuable enough to be"
    The Art world only seems to only really respect the abstract. Surrealistic montages, a slash of paint on a wall...says nothing does nothing.....the emperor without clothes.
    The documentry, not abstract, not a splash on a wall. A photographer of the world and humanity....Cinderella in the art world. The abstract, the slash of paint on the wall....real art.
    Of course unless it is an oldie godly.
     
  78. "Allen, your comments betray a certain biases."
    Of course.
    This is a photographic forum so i wonder where the biased would be?....climb over the fence and look at the other side.......that is what i did... try it.
     
  79. I just had the privilege of seeing original Leonardo da Vinci drawings. I have seen them all my life in books. Who would not agree that they are not among the most precious art ever made by our culture? Who can put a price on any art with some logical relation to artistic value? It is has no bearing on quality of expression or craft. Like everything, it only has our present material culture’s value.

    The depth of expression you obtain from art depends on your experience. It must express a certain intelligence and authority accessible to you. Strive to widen your critical point of view. You shouldn’t ask “Is that art?” The answer is always “Yes”.

    Art isn’t about media or craft. Art is part of our species’ expressive ability.
     
  80. Strange to be talking about Leonardo and coming to the conclusion that art isn't about craft. Of course it's not all about or primarily about craft, but it can be very much about craft in certain instances, particularly da Vinci. How does one separate Leonardo's incredibly craftsmanship from his expressiveness? Or someone like Ansel Adams, for that matter? In so many cases craft and expression are symbiotic, almost as if one. Agree that the artistic value isn't a monetary value.
     
  81. Fred G.
    There is no point of separating art from craft – sorry if I was unclear. Craft in all endeavors reveals humanities expressive capability. “Artists are not special kinds of persons. Every person is a special kind of artist.” (or something to that effect?) 11th C. Scholastic Monk.

    The point I wanted to stress is that all pictures, literary, or musical expressions can be perceived as art. Were paleo people making art by their own reckoning? Nothing astounds me more than the sophistication of human thought with regard to expression. Earliest people were expressing life in the most humanly natural way. Who knows if our mind prepares naturally, special context for art to exist. Spaces exclusively for art? That is a modern, post paleo, thing, isn't it?
     
  82. Spaces exclusively for art? That is a modern, post paleo, thing, isn't it?​
    Yes. It's part of the process of human development that we now tend to set aside spaces for art, though graffiti artists, street performers, and others are broadening the bounds of where art can be seen and performed. Traveling in Germany recently, I was taken to a modern dance piece performed throughout a warehouse, from staircases to lobbies, etc. Some stuff is cyclical, some more forward-looking. It's OK with me if we now set aside museums and galleries and indoor theaters for the experiencing of art, for the most part. Just part of its development. Sometimes such delineation and even delimitation actually can open things up in a way. It certainly doesn't negate what they did in earlier days and, as you're saying, those early eras shouldn't be forgotten when addressing art's possibilities.

    Can't agree that the answer to the question "Is that art?" is always "Yes." At least for me, it is sometimes/often "No." If it were always "Yes," IMO, the concept of art becomes suspicious and tautological. I would probably agree that anything CAN BE art or has the potential to be experienced as art but would not agree that everything IS art.
     
  83. Fred,
    I am sticking to the “every person is a special kind of artist” thought. It is an essentialist notion that appears in Eastern and Western culture. I find that art provides a means to express thoughts that resonate throughout humanity. Excellence of expression in any endeavor is praised as artful or as having great beauty. If nothing else it gives me hope that some wisdom exists in an irrational world.
    00dK4E-557026184.jpg
     
  84. LOL. While irrationality may work in art and, in fact, in many endeavors, I'm generally suspicious of it taking hold in conversation and especially in Philosophy!
    Yes. It is essentialist. Something I reject fiercely.
     
  85. I believe that art, like beauty, "is in the eye of the beholder".
     
  86. Michael, the problem as I see it is that many people think a picture of Elvis on a black velvet background is art. That's in their eyes. And I have no trouble saying "no" to them. It's not art. I think it's OK for us to stand up for art and not accept everyone's opinion on the matter. I think it's perfectly OK for anyone to like or dislike anything they want. You want to like Elvis on velvet, be my guest. You want to think or say it's beautiful, more power to you. Call it art and I'm happy to tell you you're wrong.
     
  87. Fred: You're wrong. Michael is right. But of course, that's my opinion. But, that's just as valid as your opinion. I think you're confusing what may be considered "good" art vs. "bad" art. But that too is in the eye of the beholder. In either case, it's still art because it effects the aesthetic sensibilities of the viewer. It also goes back to the definition of art; something we all have had long and inconclusive definitions and arguments here in PN.
     
  88. Alan, you may think one opinion is as valid as others. I don't. I take each opinion, consider what it's based on, what it says, what the context is, and judge it valid or not accordingly.
    There are those who are of the opinion that climate change isn't affected by man's actions. They base that on bogus science and illiterate politics. There are those who are of the opinion that man does have a role in climate change. They base that on respected science of wide consensus. The latter opinion is valid and reasonable. The former opinion is invalid and unreasonable. The competing opinions, in a reasonable world, should not be given equal weight or standing.
    Whether something is good art is a different question from whether something is art and I'm not confusing those two. Whether something is good art or bad art is a matter of opinion and, while I might try to show someone who thought something wasn't very good why I think it's good and maybe convince them to give it a second look, I wouldn't say their opinion was wrong or invalid. It's not like opinions on climate change, which can be more objectively determined.
    But if someone thinks Elvis on velvet is art, I would tell them they're wrong. I think it has nothing to do with taste whether Elvis on velvet is art. I think it has to do with a coherent notion of art. Art is whatever anyone decides is art, absent any context or any other factors, is incoherent. You're entitled to be of the opinion that that vacuum cleaner over there is a desk and if you keep referring to that vacuum cleaner as a desk, I'm entitled to draw the conclusion that you don't understand basic vocabulary or see you as unreasonable and somewhat incoherent. Likewise if you were to call Elvis on black velvet art. Again, if you like Elvis on black velvet, more power to you and hang it on your wall and enjoy it. Just don't misappropriate the language and call it art, unless you either present it in such a way or such a context to make it so. That means that, for me, anything has the potential to be art (or be seen as art), given the right context and presentation, but not everything is art, and among the things that are not currently art is the Elvis on black velvet I encounter in the local tourist/kitsch shop.
     
  89. The I of the beholder.
    Ekphrasis
    I saw this word and could not (would not!) use it in a sentence or even pronounce it. It means to expand on art with art. That may apply to “found” objects placed in certain contexts becoming art. Kind of? NeoDADA or Fluxus or personal art “atlases” fit in somewhere.
    You might say that kitschy things like paintings on velvet become expanded versions depending on where they are displayed. Does dis-placement of kitsch items wittily comment on culture, or are they just our sentimental, personal jokes?
    Many things look better as photographs for various reasons long expounded on here.
    Elvis on velvet looks better as it is. It really says “Elvis”. What more do you want from art?

    “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
     
  90. objects placed in certain contexts becoming art​
    Yes. My point exactly. Potential.
    It really says “Elvis”. What more do you want from art?​
    Plenty. I'm sure a credible case could be made that some family snaps of Winston Churchill really say Churchill, even more so than the famous KARSH PHOTO. I wouldn't burden the innocence and simplicity of those snapshots with the label art. And it may help to make my point to say I don't much care for Karsh in general but I recognize his portrait of Churchill as art.
     
  91. Addition: And even though I don't much care for Karsh and think there is such a thing as bad art, I wouldn't call that portrait a bad portrait or bad art. I'd just call it an art portrait I don't like.
     
  92. Fred G.
    I'm thinking of Eggelston's "Graceland" Book. Who didn't take those pictures? I guess that was THE point.
    My view of Karsh is rather cynical. It is probably due to his popularity. Everyone wanted him to do a Karsh of them and he obliged. I LOL every time I see the Kennedy portrait.
    00dUuN-558504084.jpg
     
  93. Alan, I think we can also work backwards. Artists, in the majority of cases, make art (or find it and present it). This is where a body of work can be determinative as opposed to an individual piece. Now, honestly, I haven't thought this one through so I'm putting it out there more as a consideration than a definitive conclusion I've drawn. But I might say that if I've determined, through a body of work, that someone is an artist, then the things they produce that comprise that body of work are each art. That's where bad art can come in. Even a good artist can go awry and produce a bad painting, for example. But, I'd say, if it comes from an artist (as determined by the body of work) then it's art even if bad. Now, being produced or found by an artist isn't the ONLY way something can become art. This thought experiment was just meant to suggest that categorizing something as art can sometimes be as much a function of who made it as what it is.
     
  94. Art is whatever anyone decides is art, absent any context or any other factors, is incoherent. You're entitled to be of the opinion that that vacuum cleaner over there is a desk and if you keep referring to that vacuum cleaner as a desk, I'm entitled to draw the conclusion that you don't understand basic vocabulary or see you as unreasonable and somewhat incoherent.​
    Fred: I never said art is whatever anyone decides art is. I said art has an aesthetic component, it's generally non-utilitarian, has no real function. You just look at it and it does something to your mind, senses and spirit.
    What makes it better art, in my opinion, is if it does more to your mind, senses and spirit than another piece of art. So if one photo of a landscape excites you more because of the way it catches the sunlight, than it's better art than a photo that doesn't catch the sunlight in quite the same way. Better artists may just have a better handle on the craft. But both photos are art because they operate on the viewer's mind. One just does a better job at it because of the greater emotional effect.
    Now some "experts" of art rate art using different parameters. They may be effected by what's in style currently, or what they can sell for more money, or by it's historical appeal and for lots of other reasons. But my take all other remaining equal is the best art is measured against how great it effects the viewer on an emotional and spiritual level.
     
  95. Alan, sorry, I was going by what you said in relation to Michael's comment. Your clarification in your most recent post makes a lot more sense to me. Michael said, "Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder." I always took that quote about beauty to mean each of us determines what is beautiful. So, when Michael applied it to art, I took him to be saying that each of us determines what is art.
    I don't want to put words in your mouth (or Michael's, if I interpreted his use of that quote incorrectly), but I'd phrase my own belief and perhaps what you've said in your followup post as something along the lines of "Taste is in the eye of the beholder."
    One of the reasons I rarely give quick definitions of art is that they're prone to be contradicted very easily. Rather than a definition that includes this or that characteristic, I think art needs a discussion. Toward that end, and we don't really have to discuss it here because it gets long, I would ask you what the difference is between "art" and "aesthetic" since you used "aesthetic" to help define "art." And though there have been theories about art not being utilitarian, and I think there's room for that observation and it does seem to apply in a lot of cases, there are also many counterexamples. A lot of art is political, from Picasso's Guernica to Serrano's Piss Christ to Richard Serra's Stop Bush. Some even think, and it's certainly worth some consideration even if not completely embraced, that ALL art is political. We now house ancient tools in museums which were utilitarian at their core and could still be so. Music is used in therapy for people with autism as is dance. I think art has broadened in scope to where the non-utilitarian view of it may be a thing of the past.
    In terms of judging art good, I think you make valid points about its ability to move our mind, senses, and spirit. I also think, in many cases, the level or degree of craft plays a role in my assessment of how good a piece of art is.
     
  96. Fred. one of the few times we seem to agree.
    Regarding your question, sure art can be political. But that still follows my definition that if it effects your feelings about something, or creates a feeling, then it's art. Also, art can have utilitarian values such as architecture, where you can live in a painting, so to speak, as well as get a soaring feeling just looking at it. As a New Yorker, I still look with amazement on the beauty of buildings in Manhattan when ever I'm driving or walking around there.
    Literary arts, music, dance, it's all art. We seem to have a great need to feed our sense of awe, our feelings and and our spirits without utility, and art does all that for us. Aren't we lucky?
     
  97. We seem to have a great need to feed our sense of awe, our feelings and and our spirits without utility.​
    I'm just adding that feeding our sense of awe, our feelings and our spirits has utility as opposed to being without utility.
     
  98. I was using the meaning of utility as providing for physical purposes such as food, or shoes so we can walk more easily. But I do agree that art provides a sublime utility, one of nourishing our minds, hearts and souls.

    I have wondered if humans are the only creatures who have this sense of awe, who actually seek it in art and elsewhere.
    I wonder what the bears were thinking?
    https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=bear+sunset+cartoon&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002
     
  99. Speaking of non-humans, I operate under the assumption that art isn't an off-on affair and it's not an all-or-nothing affair either. I think there's art in a spider's web glistening in morning sunlight and yet I don't have to take the more distinctive position that the spider's web is a work of art. I think a spider is capable of making art though it may not be capable of recognizing it. I think people can sometimes make art without recognizing it or intending it to be art.
    While a lot of art inspires awe, that word has a reverential and even sacred bent that I think goes against the grain of some art. A lot of art, particularly of the last century, is not really awesome or awe-inspiring but no less important. Good, strong art can sometimes be a real downer, more confrontational than awe-inspiring.
    Larry Clark's photos come to mind.
     
  100. To the spider, its web is a tool, a utility to catch dinner. But it requires a viewer to see the web as art. I agree we can often make things used as a utility that others see as art. Architecture, a cabinet maker, etc.
    I like the word awe. While it can take on a reverential role as to God and religion, the initial reaction for me is something that diminishes my ego, usually suddenly. I remember when I drove to Yosemite Valley for the first time. Coming out of the tunnel and into the parking lot at Inspiration Point, the perfect name for that spot. Getting out of the car and looking into that amazing valley. I was awestruck. I felt and was made small by the amazing strength and majesty it projected. Everyone who has been there says the same thing. And every photographer tries to catch that feeling; most fail, of course.
    When art can stop us for the moment and subdue our imperial urges and humble us, that is the awe I speak of. What photographer doesn't aim for that high ideal in their work? I know I do.
     
  101. What photographer doesn't aim for that high ideal in their work?​
    I suggested Larry Clark.

    I, myself, often don't. Some of my photos have nothing to do with humility and more to do with ego (sometimes a combination of mine and the person I'm photographing). I'm often not searching for a so-called high ideal and can sometimes be stuck in much more base concerns.
    And every photographer tries to catch that feeling; most fail, of course.​
    Perhaps, at this point, the one who DOESN'T fail will be the one who won't approach it with such awe and majesty, the one not only who won't photograph it with those things in mind but the one who may actually not experience it with those things only in mind. I was just at Yosemite, and while the awesome and majestic aspects are certainly there, and can even be hard to escape because of the clichés we've become so used to, there's a lot more to it.
     
  102. I have a book of petroglyph photos I did for undergrad American Indian Art History. The hard granite geological formation they were laboriously chipped into made the simplest expression appear monumental. There was never a doubt in my mind that the indigenous hunters who carved them felt the “spirituality” of their efforts and the results. I never use the word “spiritual” for art or anything else – I’ll stick with “ineffable”.
    Indigenous art everywhere offers great insights into essential “meaning” in art. Culture-by-culture it was in continuous flux.

    Regarding animals and art, they, of course, are not self-aware and can't express anything but the primal urges of life. Self awareness is essentially human and no other creature is. All so-called definitions of art must include that fact. Anything less is a mere pretty pebble. If nothing else, Art is about our self awareness.

    My art rat’s favorite artist was Seurat. She chewed up Grand Jatte’ for nesting.

    00dUyM-558513584.jpg
     
  103. Alan, just to be clear, I wasn't suggesting the spider was an artist, but I do think his web can be art. Just as I said above that often, what an artist makes is art, I don't think art HAS TO BE made by an artist. The urinal was not made by an artist, it was found and presented by one. I do believe that art can also be both a way of experiencing something and even a lifestyle.
     
  104. "A wise photographer counseled me early on that when I could make a great portrait of a typical or generic-looking person I will have learned something of great value . . . not monetary value!"
    I think we all agree photography is Art... it is not about the medium but about the expression/creativity of Art.
    But still, in the real world, photography is...the poor cousin of Art.
     

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