Pictorialism?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by echard_wheeler, Apr 22, 2002.

  1. Would the work of Sally Mann, new and old, and Raymond Meeks be
    considered a modern form of pictorialism?

    <p>

    Many thanks
    eck wheeler
     
  2. Interesting question. My personal belief is that there's a lot of
    fuzzy-wuzzy arty-looking stuff going on in photography right now,
    most of which falls right into Edward Weston's description of
    pictorialism: "Pretty stories, poorly told."

    <p>

    People are using a whole cadre of "effects" such as film-edges showing
    in prints, out-of-focus, heavily sepia-toned, printed on
    textured watercolor paper, heavily vignetted corners, using a Holga
    or other plastic camera for Atget-like look, deliberately damaging
    or scratching the film for an "old" look, etc. etc.

    <p>

    To me, those things are great if they are used deliberately to create
    a particular effect that goes with the meaning and artistic intention
    behind the image. But, unfortunately (in my opinion) many of those
    effects are being used as a substitute for substance, and so, yeh,
    here we are back in pictorialism again.

    <p>

    To address your question specifically, I have no opinion about whether
    either of those photographers' work is "modern pictorialism;" my
    comments go more generally to general themes I'm seeing in current
    photography.

    <p>

    ~cj
     
  3. Not to mention photoshop!!!

    <p>

    Kevin
     
  4. Eck, Chris, Kevin:

    <p>

    If I may be so bold - - -

    <p>

    I agree with you. Technique for it's own sake tells me nothing about
    the subject of the photo. However, Tech-pan used to show the extreme
    detail in small nature objects is showing the art in nature. Infra-red
    film used to show the glowing beauty in the forest shows the art that
    is possible.

    <p>

    If I may paraphrase you, Technique is no substitute for substance.

    <p>

    Seen in a gallery in No. Calif. about 15 years ago was a well
    composed, well lighted, well printed studio full length nude of a
    yound lady covered in surgical clamps. This was (I'd say) a case of a
    bad story, well told. Never figured out what the heck the maker was
    trying to say.

    <p>

    My photo instructor, H. Warren King, would say (and still does),
    "Keep it simple stupid". "KISS IT."

    <p>

    A simple image, simply stated, says more than any technique alone.

    <p>

    Thanks for letting me bend your ears.
     
  5. Hi Eck ,
    i concurr with you about the definition you give of Sally Mann"s
    work.

    <p>

    About the comment of the previous post the same could be told
    about the too many times sterile photography of the "purists",
    who get lost in the "tack sharp " images, "perfect rendition of
    values" and "owe for nature's wonders".

    <p>

    Give space to people to find their way, stop being
    self-righteous, having the presumption to be the right judge for
    other people's work.

    <p>

    That's my job!!
     
  6. domenico, your third sentence is so plainly belied by your second,
    that you're fired.
     
  7. Chris,
    you miss to read my fourth sentence!
     
  8. Jokes aside,Chris,

    <p>

    nobody needs destructive criticism. We are artists and many of
    us know that expecially amongst ourselves we need to support
    each other...

    <p>

    I am not trying to say to lie to each other , but being constructive
    and supportive.

    <p>

    Fuzzy-Wuzzy artsy looking stuff...... that statement reveals
    ignorance and superficiality....

    <p>

    Before being the exceptional photographer thar i am now,before
    being able to harness my incredible talent , i have gone through
    the struggle to find myself as an artist , to find my voice( That's
    artsy ...artsy crap,damned!) , and along the road i have done
    stuff that i would like to forget i did.

    <p>

    If people do what they do, if they scratch their negatives, if they
    burn the edges of their prints if their images are out of focus and
    the content is ....lacking , let's incourage them to go deeper.
    That is where they want to go , but sometime is a scary place to
    be.

    <p>

    When students show me their work, i don't tell them that is artsy
    -wuzzy crappy thingy , .....i just........leave.
     
  9. I don't know that it is "pictorialism", since that was an attempt to
    mimic impressionstic paintings. I think of it as just a way to give
    people a feeling of something. Is it the fuzzy wuzzies, or just the
    warm fuzzies? Who knows. Who even cares, so long as it works for
    that picture. I don't know Meeks' work that well, but for Mann it
    WORKS.
     
  10. " I don't know Meeks' work that well, but for Mann it WORKS."<BR>
    <BR>
    Doesn't work for me. I have had a hard time understanding the
    accolades... to me they're just snapshots with an 8x10.
     
  11. "I am not trying to say to lie to each other , but being constructive
    and supportive."

    <p>

    Fuzzy-Wuzzy artsy looking stuff...... that statement reveals ignorance
    and superficiality...."

    <p>

    So, domenico, in your statement to me there, are you being
    constructive and supportive, or judgmental and critical?
    In other words, how about practicing what you preach?
     
  12. Dear Domenico,

    <p>

    Criticism and opinions are worth exactly what you pay for them.
    Accept then or reject as you like. It is of no consequence. However,
    consider the source. Good source usually equalls constructive
    criticism. Poor source equalls nothing.

    <p>

    You say your are "the exceptional photographer that I am now, before
    being able to harness my incredible talent". I'd like to see that
    talent. My photo teacher used to tell me, "Don't tell me how good you
    are - - - SHOW ME." Do you have your work available to view on-line?
    You show me yours and I'll show you mine. Let others critique. I've
    seen cj's site. He's hard to beat. IMHO.

    <p>

    You further say, "When students show me their work, i don't tell them
    that is artsy -wuzzy crappy thingy , .....i just........leave. You
    are a teacher! Teach your students the basics first. Permit them the
    knowledge to understand the craft, art and physical techniques.
    Critique their efforts objectively at first and subjectively only
    after they master the basics.

    <p>

    Don't..........just..........leave.

    <p>

    That's an insult to the student.

    <p>

    But, of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

    <p>

    -Steve
     
  13. ha! well, actually i wasn't saying any specific photographer's work
    is "fuzzy wuzzy artsy"; i was just applying that judgment to a whole
    genre, and i definitely stick to my guns in that department. i have
    strongly-held opinions, and that's one of them: i don't like vacuous
    images hidden behind pictorialist veils of edge-effects, printing
    tricks, and cutesy matting and framing (like tiny prints in huge
    aluminum frames with industrial-sized bolts, etc.); to me that whole
    category of work misses the point of art; it makes the medium the
    message, and misses out on the real communicative potential. It's
    Kenny G with all his reverbs and digital effects, instead of Coltrane
    on stage in a small club, up-close and raggedy. It's the wizard of
    Oz-- all ego and smoke and mirrors with no real magic to back it up.

    <p>

    now i don't say that stuff except in academic discussions about art in
    general-- i'd NEVER put down anyone's work to them in person like
    that, because it wouldn't help them grow as an artist. when i see a
    show of someone's work that i don't like, i have two words that i
    always use when talking to the artist: "compelling" and "evocative".
    Those are great noodling terms while sipping wine and looking at a
    show of out-of-focus junk!! HA!! And, on the rare occasions when
    someone asks me for advice on how to grow as an artist, I always
    recommend listening to Bach fugues.

    <p>

    cheers, and Steve thanks for your kind and inspiring comment.

    <p>

    ~cj
     
  14. Mr Steve Feldman,......

    <p>

    i was joking......!

    <p>

    When iwas talking of my incredible talent......when i was talking
    of my harnessing etc. etc., i was hoping people would recognize
    my wonderful and subtle humor(!)........ instead.

    <p>

    C'mon people lighten up!!

    <p>

    When i was talking about leaving at the view of students work,
    that too was also a joke!

    <p>


    I want to apologize to eck Wheeler for being in part responsible
    of the silliness that has led his question in part unnoticed.

    <p>

    Chris, i am not trying to make you change your mind, but i want
    to tell you that in many images that you might find offensive
    because of their out of focus nature, their creators spend a lot of
    time in controlling that effect. Have you ever heard of "bokeh?

    <p>

    I also am envious of how you have finally figured out the
    formula by which you decide if a piece s good or not , i am sure
    it took a lot of sensitivity.

    <p>

    http: //dfoschisite.com/
     
  15. Ah . . . Bach . . .

    <p>

    Compelling. And maybe that other word.

    <p>

    "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" is one of my favorites.

    <p>

    S.
     
  16. "I don't know that it is "pictorialism", since that was an attempt to
    mimic impressionistic paintings." Steve, that was one
    Pictorialist's version of what it its. It is the photography of light,
    not detail -- that's what it's about. I think these discussions of
    "fuzzy wuzzy" are as profitable as the silver/digital conversations.

    <p>

    And as to the original question, from my readings of the original
    pictorialists, Mann could join the club -- don't know if she'd want
    to join -- but she'd be welcome.
    Dean
     
  17. OK, I stand corrected. It is about light and shadow. Still, some of
    it "pleases me" and some doesn't. Please don't ask why because I
    don't know why, it just does or doesn't.
     
  18. Classifications mean nothing, a beautiful woman, a favorite spot
    at the beach, a classic movie, a classic car, your favorite tools,
    conversation with a great pal, it's like Art, certain things never
    stop giving you satifacton.

    <p>

    Nobody gets into Photography who doesn't love or get inspired by
    the imagination that went into the crafting of a well done image. How
    did you do that?....It doesn't make any difference if it's you asking
    or being asked those magic words about an image, it's what everybody
    lives for.

    <p>

    A picture is good for me because I never get tired of looking at
    it. If it's good it stays forever, everything else fades away.
     
  19. Within this conversation lays the beauty of photography. We all have
    our own likes and dislikes. It makes for a very broad landscape of
    ideas. I, for one, love the pictorial works. And being a landscape
    photographer in the Adams vein I love the tack sharp works of Adams,
    Bond, and Barnbaum. Then there is the photography of Robert
    Parke-Harrison which I find extremely creative. And all the
    different photojournalistic genre from the past century. It is this
    breadth of works that makes photography so interesting and the dialog
    that goes along with it. So let's start really seeing beyond our own
    preconceived notions of what is good or bad, as I did when I first
    started on my photographic journey, and embrace all that is
    photography as practiced today. To do less is to rob yourself of
    knowlege and the widening of your own boundries.
     
  20. I'm with James, and like both styles.

    <p>

    These days pictorialists are mostly seen as the guys black hats
    who were rightly hunted down by the f64 posse. The original
    aims of the pictorialists were to free photography of an
    over-technical dogma about what made a good photograph, and
    that is still relevant today.

    <p>

    I have an old edition of the Encyclopeadia Britannica (the 11th) in
    which Holman-Hunt makes a reasoned case for pictorialism.
    The language gives it away, but the sentiment is very modern,
    essentially arguing that the techniques of pictorialism expand
    the photographers expressive range beyond the merely literal.

    <p>

    The debate goes on. There is a gulf of incomprehension
    between fine-art photographers and artists who use
    photography. The two camps have very different ideas of what
    makes a photograph worth looking at, and seem to be just as
    polarised as the pictorialists and f64 group.

    <p>

    To me, this is sad. My own photography follows fairly well-worn
    tracks, but I enjoy viewing a vast range of styles and see no point
    in artificially restricting my enjoyment by insisting on a single,
    simplistic definition of what photography really is.
     

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