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Photographer
Neil Snape
Posts: 9,439
Paris, Île-de-France, France


Paramour Productions wrote:
It's in a state of flux right now and we may be returning to a more traditionalist period.  Academia is still firmly in the postmodernist camp, however the main buyers today (the large, serious buyers) are not feeding that particular machine.  The largest segment of art buyers right now are largely Russian and Eastern Europeans with massive wealth, followed up by the Wall St. types who see it as much as an investment as an aesthetic purchase.  Both of these groups are trending to more traditional forms of beauty that the postmodern school tends to dismiss.  I am hopeful for this shift as I was never a postmodernist, being drawn much more to the modernist view of the world.  Time will tell.

I'm not one to be able to say what art is to others, but can say that what you wrote above seems clear to me.

As I had taught at Parsons, and as frustrating as it is to try to work in schools, they do adhere to the side of trash is art, and anything you understand is not.

Reality is at shows like Paris Photo. Many big galleries from everywhere, all showing stuff that is understandable, and recognizable as photography. Salgado of course in there as Avedon, Penn, etc. What was selling?  These and many more yet all which was more traditional, understandable works. Any of which people didn't have to think, is this art?

Jan 10 13 02:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kevin Stenhouse
Posts: 2,658
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


DarrylPascoePhotography wrote:
you are not the decider of what art is or isn't. You are only the decider of whether you like this art or that art.

Who decides? Can anyone object?

Does the person creating the 'thingy' decide whether it's art or not? Can I put a hat on a cat and call it art? Can I put koolaid into a glass of water.. call it art? Money in a parking meter? Performance piece and because i did it for aesthetic reasons it's actually 'Fine Art' to boot. I can live with this definition, kinda like the feel of it, but....

Is the opposite true? If I insist that my work is not art does that mean that no matter who else who claims it as such they are wrong? This is where it get's tricky for me. Picasso has been quoted as describing himself as a fraud and a charlatan playing tricks on the masses. Does that make his work not art?

Some say 'eye the beholder' some say the person creating the piece. Others say it's the powers that be. Which is it? All? Can an individual, group or community object to it?


I'm not discussing the relative merits of any piece of work.. just how the process of defining it as art comes about. It appears to me that the word may be completely meaningless because everyone can claim something as art and no one can object? Without objection there's no way to place the word into context.

Seriously intrigued by this conundrum... thoughts? Maybe I'm experiencing some sort of logical fallacy and overlooking it.

Jan 10 13 10:45 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Lumatic
Posts: 13,591
Chicago, Illinois, US


Paramour Productions wrote:
But you're not a social documentarian?  If you wanted to be you certainly could be.  And is documentary art?  I think in some hands it most certainly is.  There are many, however, who would disagree. 

In the end I think much of it comes down to what you're trying to say.  What your narrative is and how that narrative lives within the context of the society you live in, the zeitgeist if you will.

There was a time when to be art, something simply had to be beautiful.  In a post modern sense that doesn't really hold true.  In fact, in some academic circles, the opposite is actually valued more.   

I sent you a shot of a still life boot last night.  It wasn't an art project or a commercial project, it was just a test.  You mentioned brushing out the suede (which I did) -- I didn't like the result and prefer the original.  It is imperfect, but that is what I like about it.  When I shoot still life, I tend to approach it as if I'm doing a portrait. I try to figure out "who" the character is and shoot that. It's not always perfect (unless I'm being paid to make it so).

In the end, for some reason, many here tend to think that "art" is a label that is used as a reward for achieving a level of accomplishment in their own mind (as the viewer).  But is it?  That is certainly how we appraise work that first sets out to be something else, such as the work by Salgado, or even more commercial imagery after enough time has past.  But is that the only qualifier?  If that's the case then there is no bad art.  Only art, and non-art.  I do not ascribe to this school of thought.  If someone despises opera, does that mean it is not art?  Or is it just not art to them?  Or can we also say that they are ignorant and that their opinion doesn't matter? 

Art is created.  By this I mean, artists set out to create art.  You would never hear a sculptor say: "hey, I'm just doing what I want, you know man and like, well if others think it's art, that's cool, but I don't really care."  No, they're setting out to create a work of art.  They may feel it's a failure.  They may destroy it.  They may feel it has risen to a level that they can be proud of.  But they are artists. Photography had to fight to be considered an art form (thank you Mr. Stieglitz) due to it's mechanical nature, but it is an art form as long as it is practiced as one. 

The reason I said in my previous post that "I don't know" if what I'm doing is art has more to do with why I create certain images rather than the end result.  If a gallery likes a series I shot and requests something similar because they know it will sell (and this happens ALL the time, to myself and others) and I comply - providing a perfectly pleasing set of images that mean absolutely nothing to me and were only produced as a commodity, and they sell... is it art?  That's a really tough question to answer.  Most here, myself included, would be inclined to say no, but history is replete with such examples, often by famous artists.  What if I, like Warhol, simply hire others to create my vision, is that art? 


I suppose, after having thought about this for the past 24 hours, that art is, most of all, a process - a dialog that we first have with ourselves and then, should the conversation be compelling enough, with others.

Well said, and the bolded in particular.  There is the art world, and there is the art market, and while the market is a subsection of the whole, people's perception of art has become entirely influenced by that rather than the historical significance of the whole of art - especially in the past half-century or so.  Warhol himself has essentially said that the people who bought his work were idiots when it came to art.  What makes something art today is no longer influenced by aesthetic value or meaning as much as it is by its fame, sensational impact and monetary value in the marketplace. 

In other words, the validity of a piece as "art" today is publicly confirmed by the people with the money who buy it - galleries, collectors and museums.  The notion that "anything can be art" merely takes its cue from the notoriety of works that departed from traditional expression.  What came out of the Dada movement is a great example of that - Dadaists were actually responding to the absurdity of the times by doing absurd things relative to what would have been considered "art," but now people look at the impact of that and say that because of it, even a toilet presented in an "artistic way" is what makes it art.  When Duchamp created "Fountain" after becoming involved with Dada (photographed and made famous by Stieglitz), his intention was actually to destroy "art" because the term had lost its deeper meaning.  He was focusing on intellectual interpretation, and not on the physical appearance of the piece.  But he was not saying that anything could be art in the way most people think about that.

If you want to know what art is about today, watch "The Mona Lisa Curse" by the late Robert Hughes or "The Great Contemporary Art Bubble" by Ben Lewis.  Hughes is right on the money in my opinion - which is that it's about money.  Art is now a commodity to be invested in and traded, and that became apparent when the Mona Lisa came to the Met in New York in 1963.  The most famous painting in the world went on public display in America for the first time, and more than a million people stood in line, but not to appreciate the genius of Da Vinci's work.  As Hughes says, "They didn't come to look at the Mona Lisa, they came in order to have seen it."  They came simply because it was famous - not because it was "art."

That's why I said earlier that I don't care if something is called art or not.  Duchamp's goal of destroying art has been realized.  There is still expression and creativity and great work and crappy work, but nobody can agree on what art is because the word has lost its meaning.  It doesn't really exist as a practical term.

Jan 10 13 10:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Eastfist
Posts: 3,497
Green Bay, Wisconsin, US


I'll dare say it: it's art because I made it.
Jan 10 13 11:12 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 20,903
New York, New York, US


Paramour Productions wrote:
It's in a state of flux right now and we may be returning to a more traditionalist period.  Academia is still firmly in the postmodernist camp, however the main buyers today (the large, serious buyers) are not feeding that particular machine.  The largest segment of art buyers right now are largely Russian and Eastern Europeans with massive wealth, followed up by the Wall St. types who see it as much as an investment as an aesthetic purchase.  Both of these groups are trending to more traditional forms of beauty that the postmodern school tends to dismiss.  I am hopeful for this shift as I was never a postmodernist, being drawn much more to the modernist view of the world.  Time will tell.
Neil Snape wrote:
I'm not one to be able to say what art is to others, but can say that what you wrote above seems clear to me.

As I had taught at Parsons, and as frustrating as it is to try to work in schools, they do adhere to the side of trash is art, and anything you understand is not.

Reality is at shows like Paris Photo. Many big galleries from everywhere, all showing stuff that is understandable, and recognizable as photography. Salgado of course in there as Avedon, Penn, etc. What was selling?  These and many more yet all which was more traditional, understandable works. Any of which people didn't have to think, is this art?

I found another interesting phenomena among buyers of photographic art.  At the armory show I was standing at a gallery that had some new works by some new photographers that were, in a way, gimmicky (I won't name the artist and, bear in mind, this turn of phrase is not meant to disparage - I would say the same for some of my own work).  It was being displayed next to some original works by Helmut Newton that were simply spectacular as well as, iirc, one piece by Penn. 

Numerous buyers (hedge fund husbands, who were spending big dollars on art that their stroller pushing wives picked out) were really entranced by this new work (which was largely a photoshop creation that started out as a photograph - but it was good).  They completely dismissed the original works by Newton and Penn that were hanging right next to them.  The gallery owner would always point them to these exquisite silver prints and the response was always the same:

"Yeah, I guess they're nice photos, but I mean, anyone could do that right?  I have a camera, if I just wanted a photo of a woman, I could do that myself.   But this over here, how the hell did he do this?"

And there you have it.  We often talk about how the advent of DSLRS have dumbed down the retail and commercial markets, but it's also dumbed down the art market as well.  I know he couldn't do what Newton did and you and the gallery owner know it as well.  But they buyer doesn't.  And the gallery owner?  He doesn't see his job as one of educating his buyers, hell, the art business is hard enough and he has bills to pay.  If they want gimmicks, he'll sell them gimmicks. 

Then of course you have another phenomena, at least in NYC, I can't speak for Europe, and that is the predominance of galleries run by women who's primary accomplishment being that they married well.  Don't get me wrong, they often have a degree in art history, or dabbled in the arts themselves, but their business could never have been started - nay, it could not even continue - without the financial support of their husbands.  They, quite simply, do not need to sell.  They have the luxury of doing a month long exhibition of work they like, whether it sells or not.  Just like a museum (or gallery these days) that will exhibit a series of portraits taken in a war zone depicting the horrors of war because they are culturally important.  Are they important?  Without question.  I regard the work of someone like Salgado as being some of the most important work a photographer can do.  But how many people do you think purchase that work to hang in their home or business?  If they don't purchase it, is it not art? 

Anyway, I ran into the same thing dealing with other staff/faculty at ICP.  It sucks.

Jan 10 13 12:17 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 20,903
New York, New York, US


Lumatic wrote:

Well said, and the bolded in particular.  There is the art world, and there is the art market, and while the market is a subsection of the whole, people's perception of art has become entirely influenced by that rather than the historical significance of the whole of art - especially in the past half-century or so.  Warhol himself has essentially said that the people who bought his work were idiots when it came to art.  What makes something art today is no longer influenced by aesthetic value or meaning as much as it is by its fame, sensational impact and monetary value in the marketplace. 

In other words, the validity of a piece as "art" today is publicly confirmed by the people with the money who buy it - galleries, collectors and museums.  The notion that "anything can be art" merely takes its cue from the notoriety of works that departed from traditional expression.  What came out of the Dada movement is a great example of that - Dadaists were actually responding to the absurdity of the times by doing absurd things relative to what would have been considered "art," but now people look at the impact of that and say that because of it, even a toilet presented in an "artistic way" is what makes it art.  When Duchamp created "Fountain" after becoming involved with Dada (photographed and made famous by Stieglitz), his intention was actually to destroy "art" because the term had lost its deeper meaning.  He was focusing on intellectual interpretation, and not on the physical appearance of the piece.  But he was not saying that anything could be art in the way most people think about that.

If you want to know what art is about today, watch "The Mona Lisa Curse" by the late Robert Hughes or "The Great Contemporary Art Bubble" by Ben Lewis.  Hughes is right on the money in my opinion - which is that it's about money.  Art is now a commodity to be invested in and traded, and that became apparent when the Mona Lisa came to the Met in New York in 1963.  The most famous painting in the world went on public display in America for the first time, and more than a million people stood in line, but not to appreciate the genius of Da Vinci's work.  As Hughes says, "They didn't come to look at the Mona Lisa, they came in order to have seen it."  They came simply because it was famous - not because it was "art."

That's why I said earlier that I don't care if something is called art or not.  Duchamp's goal of destroying art has been realized.  There is still expression and creativity and great work and crappy work, but nobody can agree on what art is because the word has lost its meaning.  It doesn't really exist as a practical term.

It all went to shit with the decline of the French Academy....  wink

The Mona Lisa Curse is one of my favorite documentaries of all time.  I agree, Hughes nails it.  I haven't seen The Great Contemporary Art Bubble, I will look for it tonight.

Jan 10 13 12:19 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Gabriel Stranahan
Posts: 335
Brooklyn, New York, US


I can't tell people what artists do or what art should do.... but to me, I think it should do something beyond simply convey information.

If it is completely static, if it doesn't 'do' anything, then I'm not interested in it as art, that's more informational. Information is being communicated to me: this is a fox. This is foxy lady. This is a building. This is a... syrian rebel, I dunno, you get my gist though.

But it gets tricky because whatever art is doing is inevitably done through conveying information. So I dunno.

I try to make art because I try to make a picture that... changes the context of something familiar, generally. That's a very vague thing I realize but for a lot of what I try to do, there is an A part and a B part and then something happening in between. A comparison between forms, ideas, ideas and forms, whatever.

I don't really think a lot of ModelMayhem really cares to explore the difference between photography and art photography, I think ModelMayhem is often more about sexual aesthetics, which can be artistic, but most images here are not 'about' that
Jan 10 13 12:26 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kincaid Blackwood
Posts: 23,289
Atlanta, Georgia, US


Kevin Stenhouse wrote:
If I can see it hanging on a wall or in gallery I'd consider it art. If it seems more fitting that it's in a book, ad, sign etc I call it a photo/illustration. With some cross-over of course.

Those are narrowmindedly limiting methods of distinction. 

Are cinematographers artists?  Are performance artists?  Are video game designers artists?  What about sculptors?   You have to be a little more inclusive than that, man.  The gallery is not the end-all point of artistic exhibition (did modernism-to-postmodernism teach you nothing?).

Jan 10 13 01:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kevin Stenhouse
Posts: 2,658
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Kincaid Blackwood wrote:
Those are narrowmindedly limiting methods of distinction. 

Are cinematographers artists?  Are performance artists?  Are video game designers artists?  What about sculptors?   You have to be a little more inclusive than that, man.  The gallery is not the end-all point of artistic exhibition (did modernism-to-postmodernism teach you nothing?).

for reference the original post....

Are you creating images that seem like real art? How much of what you see at Model Mayhem seems like art to you? What do you think makes an image a work of art, as opposed to just a photograph or a picture of a model?

Sure, all you have listed are artists. Original question was in regards to pictures and images. At the time I was thinking about my own work as point of reference. Visualizing my work on walls, galleries or anywhere else art exists.

Have been pondering the question the last few days and agree with most of what is recently being discussed. For all purposes the word has become meaningless except for marketing purposes.

Jan 10 13 01:15 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 20,903
New York, New York, US


I don't think the OP is really interested in discussing what constitutes art.
Jan 10 13 01:50 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Puff
Posts: 986
Montara, California, US


twoharts wrote:
the viewer decides if it's art, not the person who made it.

Bulls**t.  If the person who makes it doesn't know if it's "art" then the person who makes it doesn't know if they are an artist.

The viewer establishes the audience for the work and whether or not the work is commercially viable.  I hope to god neither of those measurements become the definition of "art" or "artist".

Jan 10 13 10:02 pm  Link  Quote 
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