Work shown here vs. postmodern

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by gfisch9862, Jul 13, 2016.

  1. Recently, I have seen a number of exhibits of "new" photographers whose work is VERY DIFFERENT that most of the work I see here. Many call themselves "postmodern", but their work appears to be of very low quality and frequently has disturbing imagery and/or messages. Their image are frequently banal, or just plain ugly.

    I'm wondering, why those people are having shows in important galleries/museums, but it appears that most of the people I talk with don't like the images, but for some reason, they also look down on those of us doing work that features beauty and peace.

    Any thoughts????
  2. Terms like "low quality," "ugly," and "disturbing" aren't the least in conflict with "being exhibited." Rather some galleries would be completely at sea if they couldn't find something that bothered most people. This is also true of entire genres of music, poetry, film-making, play-writing, performance art, fashion, and so on.
  3. That's very true! However, some of the galleries are supposed to be selling the work displayed, but who is in the market for that type of work? Sometimes it seems totally backwards.
  4. However, some of the galleries are supposed to be selling the work displayed, but who is in the market for that type of work?​
    My guess is that some people buying these photos want to be challenged more than pleased. They may want what hangs on their wall to provoke them rather than pacify them.

    It's hard to discuss your initial opinions without some specific frames of reference. Can you provide links to a couple of the galleries or a couple of the types of ugly and disturbing images you're talking about?
  5. Fred,
    While I don't want to focus on a particular artist, here is a link:
    To be fair, he also does more sculptural work that has merit and his photographic work isn't disturbing. However, I have spoken with people who consider him a great photographer. What am I missing???
  6. Looks like Ruiz is taking 'decorative' photographs? Some thought that LeRoy Neiman was a great painter, Rod McKuen a great poet, etc.
  7. Contemporary classical music does not always attract musicians or public familiar with more traditional forms. Contemporary poetry sometimes chills those who prefer the lyricism of a Lord Byron. The painting of Norman Rockwell may not be the preference of those who are stimulated by the works of Andy Warrhol. Pretty sunsets or technically beautiful renditions of flowers are often much more popular with most viewers than the works of many artists educated to bachelor or higher level by the art departments of universities and colleges of art.
    Research and exploration seem to be the hallmark objectives of those involved with the more academic or exploratory aspects of contemporary music, painting, sculpture, writing and photography. It is normal to question those contemporary works but it would be unfortunate if everyone practiced photography in a similar manner with similar aesthetic values, subjects and perceptions. Perhaps the contemporary photographers in question and other post post-modern artists might do well to speak more to the public about their approaches.
  8. "In matters of taste there is no dispute" but sometimes it helps to ask questions about how to look at an artist's
    work. Not of the artist though! Because mostly any explanation we are forced to give is just a way saying in a worse way what we
    want the work to express - which cuts three ways: either we think we failled, or that you are a dunce for not getting it, or
    both. Instead, ask the people working at the gallery or musum - that's what they are there for.

    And for the record nothing on the link you posted is post modern. It is post-something but not post-modern.

    And yes a lot of contemporary work is pure crap, but that has been true of every generation of artistic endeavor.

    Fnally most of what gets posted here and in other forums simply isn't very good or very honest. Most of it is well crafted but is a pastiche of very safe, non-challenging tropes and forms. But that is also true of most of the arts
  9. Very true! There is no disputing taste!
    But what I'm questioning is why the low-quality, "edgy" work seems to get the promotion and accolades, but those who are committed to striving for quality imagery and sound artistic intent (whatever that is?) are considered "old fashioned" and not worth showing. However, when you see which photographers are keeping the galleries in business, it is usually the old standbys, Adams, Weston, Bernhard, Sexton, Tice, Caponigro and the rest.
    Many years ago, I was actively exhibiting my work in the Los Angeles area and sold a good number of prints. In 1980, I received the personal recommendation of Ansel Adams to become part of the Polaroid Corporation Permanent Collection. I thought, "What could be better than that!" A few years later, I was asked to be a part of a group show of the up-and-coming" photographers in the SoCal area. When I went to the opening, my work was the first thing one sees upon entering the gallery, but once inside, everything else was barely able to be considered photography. Mixed media... maybe, but not photography. I was so frustrated by the "artists" standing around bragging, that I didn't sign the register, or even to tell them my work was there. I just left, and quit doing serious photography. It is only recently that I decided to try to get back to it, but it still seems that the crappy, edgy work still gets the exposure. At this point, I've matured enough to not make hasty decisions and am trying to really understand the value of some of this contemporary work.
  10. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    However, when you see which photographers are keeping the galleries in business, it is usually the old standbys, Adams, Weston, Bernhard, Sexton, Tice, Caponigro and the rest.​

    How much do you know about the gallery business? This may be what you see but, in my experience, it's not what keeps galleries going. Maybe posters help them out, but originals are probably going to be in the auction market. And most of them haven't produced a new photograph in years, unless it's in the cemetery somewhere.
  11. Jeff,
    You're right, it's probably posters, books, etc.. But a few I talked with recently said the the bulk of their sales involved the resale of "vintage" work, not the work they were currently showing. Of course, there are people like Peter Lik, whose galleries just sell his work.
  12. Ellis, I'm curious about what you mean by a lot of work not being very honest. Content? Presentation? Intent?
  13. LINK (Michael Ruiz, San Diego, “la línea” “the line” erased digital image on paper, 2012-13)

    I don't buy much art and probably wouldn't buy this, but I would hang it on my wall if only for the reason that it might start interesting conversations when people come to visit. A picture of a beautiful sunset might be more pleasing to a lot of people (though they often nauseate me), but I'd be much more interested in something that provoked conversation than in something people would probably ooh and ahh at and ask me where it was taken, only then to tell me about their own vacation in a similar spot and recall the many beautiful sunsets they've basked in.
    What this photo has going for it (and I'm not making a value judgment or even talking about whether I like it or not) is that it is self referential. It uses the medium in commenting on itself, the digital erasure. That puts me in touch with the process of photography, with the photo as an artifice imposing itself on whatever I might think about the "scene" depicted by the photo. So it robs me of pretending I'm looking at that scene and makes me confront the difference between looking at the scene and looking at a photo of a scene, and an intentionally marred one at that, digitally done. It's not a new concept but it's as conceptual as it is aesthetic. The political element is obvious from the placard telling of the boundary being Mexico and the U.S. And perhaps the shape of the erasure suggests to me a ghostly being, right at the border.
    You ask what you are missing and I've given you a start. Note that my answer has nothing to do with greatness. If I want something out of a photo, I usually don't look for its greatness. There's too much else to look for. And I can see and learn even from work I don't necessarily like or think is great.
    People buy art for all sorts of reasons, including investment opportunities regardless of whether they like the art or think it's any good themselves. That's not a very interesting part of the question for me. The more interesting question is the comparison of a photo like Ruiz's to a more traditional Weston or Adams, etc. and understanding the different visual and conceptual vocabularies being used in the different cases.
  14. Thanks, Fred. That's the kind of thinking that I'm trying to get to. I still don't get it, but seeing the other elements, like "the medium commenting on itself" seem like important concepts to appreciate.
  15. Well one reason art collectors with money will buy art that on the surface doesn't visually please is more of an intellectual appreciation of the work. Especially, in post-modernism, which I don't profess to understand in the least, but in that work, you have to contextualize it by understanding the historical flow of critique for a certain oeuvre of work. Its not necessarily a negative, there is a lot of scholarship, analysis and thought, plus not a little b.s. that goes into that type of theoretical critique. What gets weird is that the critical explanation of the piece almost becomes part of the piece and that is often what attracts buyers. If the right critic declares a person's work is important, than collectors will buy it no matter how offensive or ugly, or maybe because it challenges the idea of beauty? (common excuse used) Does any of this explanation make sense :)
  16. I will risk a thought that some photographs are best suited for a page in a calendar, some are better if looked at in a gallery.
  17. I rather liked the work of Ruiz. I appreciate the link. I wasn't aware of him.
  18. Last night, I went to a photography presentation called, "Open Show", where Michael Ruiz and others showed some of their work and spoke about what they were doing. Interestingly, Michael started his presentation by stating the he is NOT a photographer, but merely used photographs to help tell his story. Basically, he had spent a lot of time crossing the US/Mexico border and noticed how many people do that everyday to get to work, or to visit family, and seemed to just disappear. Hence, his desire to take the pictures, print them on very thick paper, and painstaking erase the people using scraping and/or an electric sander.
  19. When I was in art school, I had an acclaimed fellow student - a couple of years ahead of me - tell me "there's no such
    thing as beauty; it's just a cultural construct." Doesn't quite make sense, given that cultural constructs still have
    existence, but that was the general thrust of what we were taught about such things. Looked him up online last year and
    he's a successful artist now, fwiw.
  20. " ... it's just a cultural construct."​
    Did you ask him of what that construct was constructed? And when he answered, ask him what that was constructed of? And so on until you find that you are back where you started or just a little to the side. If not circular, then spiralular. In your end is your beginning.
  21. ...and/or(?): Since human appreciation of beauty, whatever the identifiers, is common to all human cultures past and present, then calling human appreciation of beauty a construct is to offer that it isn't innate to human biology. That's not my view because of the glaringly obvious role beauty plays in human sexual reproduction, putting our appreciation of beauty on a par with other basic human instincts and drives like faith, hope, and charity. Oh, and eating, the least of them.
  22. "Terms like "low quality," "ugly," and "disturbing" aren't the least in conflict with "being exhibited." Rather some galleries would be completely at sea if they couldn't find something that bothered most people" Matt.
    Lets take the classic dog photos....the noble hound often portrayed in the classic sense. You understand. Do they have to be displayed as disturbing? Or, perhaps a moment of their nature to give a honest insight.
    But, a big but, they have a sterile story to tell just portrayed as a pretty picture without a personality or character. They are what we want them to be and we portray them in that context.
    Hey, how about the scruffy dog who might be telling us...
  23. Where the monkeys have they gone, why have they left me, and are they coming back?
    A worry.
  24. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Greg -- I think there is a cycle to this phenomenon. I have been viewing and taking photos for a very long time and have seen this come and go several times. I believe it to be an iconoclastic reaction to a high level of photographic quality and technique. When photos can't practically be improved, then movement in different directions -- blurs, lack of focus, mid tonal range with no black or white, the commonplace depicted instead of the sublime -- experimentation and differentiation from "all the rest". I think the edge of this is even re emerging on Not bad, just different.
    Actually, it is a bit surprising to me to see this once more in light of the fact that nearly anything can be done with post processing. We are seeing also a bit of that being employed with some quite remarkable photo to painting executions.
    Soon another big thing will come along, and it will be left behind for a while till it is "rediscovered".
    How about a still photo that morphs into something else when looked at, then snaps back?
    New worlds to conquer!
  25. To be honest Sandy what are talking seem to be lost in some sort banal rigmarole. A thicko like me would understand if you posted a photo...or, is it just about rigmarole for you.
  26. Do you do the photo thing, Sandy.
    I know you are bad with expertise in unarmed combat and concealed weapons...
    Do you do the photo thing?
  27. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Allen, I can hardly describe your level of wit and charm, words don't suffice.
    I don't care to post others' photos, or risk offending by holding their art up as examples. You are free to look at my portfolio -- I think I can say "I do the photo thing", though as with all of my various interests, I try to continue to learn and improve.
    Y'all have a good day. S
  28. "Allen, I can hardly describe your level of wit and charm, words don't suffice"
    Well, thank you Sandy for your kind words; I can only dwell in my mirror admiring my magnificence.
    Think, Sandy, if you were lost in the" forest of rigmarole". and there was a path of photos to lead you out...think how happy you would be to leave that dark dank creepy place. Sandy would be happy...actually happened to me as a small child.
    Now you do not have to be a master photographer to post a photo....indeed most folk would appreciate and respect you for having the courage to post.
  29. Your phots are worthy and treat them with respect.

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