PDA

View Full Version : Fine Art Photography Debate


Zuiko
17th February 2008, 12:41 AM
A recent thread raised questions about Fine Art Photography.

I would like to start a debate about what we perceive as being "fine art" and its relevance to enthusiast photographers and suggest we commence with the following questions.

What defines "fine art" to us, as individuals?

Is "fine art" a label that recognises true creative genius or is it indicative of pretentious nonsense?

If it is over rated and over hyped, how come some artists and photographers who subscribe to this category are able to command such high fees for their work?

What are good or bad examples of "fine art photography?"

I know very little about fine art photography and would like to gain a better understanding of the genre.

Regards,

Zuiko

RSGodfrey
17th February 2008, 07:49 AM
The "what is art" debate will be around as long as humans exist. There is no objective standard to distinguish art from non-art because it is purely subjective. If something resonates for you aesthetically or emotionally, it transcends the every-day and becomes extraordinary.

Within art and photography there is a tension between seeking versimilitude and resonance and for me, the ability to explore this frontier in digital photography is what makes it so fascinating.

I think the use of the adjective "fine" is redundant. Art by a personal standard or by social concensus is art. Seeking finer classifications as in fine, finer or finest is probably best left to so-called art critics who aspire to telling us what we should or should not value.

Richard

theMusicMan
17th February 2008, 09:08 AM
I think this could turn into a great discussion and am looking forward to reading peoples opinions on it. I though, have no real idea as to exactly what 'fine art' is when referring to photography. I have seen several photographers who on their www sites categorise themselves as 'fine art photographers' when to me, their shots are one or more of the usual génres i.e. portrait, landscape or natural history! I am unsure what it is about their photography that qualifies them to be 'fine art' photographs...?

Take this one for example (photographer will remain anon):
http://www.danmassey.co.uk/images/lochawe.jpg

... the photographer identifies themselves as a fine art photographer, and this category is named; 'Digital Fine Art Photography - Landscape', but to me this is simply a nice(ish) if somewhat uninteresting and low contrast lake/water scene. What is it about this photograph that makes it fine art...?

Maybe it's me, and as Richard pointed out in his previous post, it is an entirely subjective matter - thus I just don't 'see it' in this image... do you 'see it'...? :)

I see another photographers site, where 90% of the images are very good portraits, in b&w or sepia, and the photographer once again 'fine art photography' (can't show images from there as it's a flash site). So once again I just don't get the 'fine art' thing and though I'd like to learn, I just don't understand exactly what this is.

E-P1 fan
17th February 2008, 09:50 AM
Art in photography is surely like art in any medium.

Basically IMO technique is secondary to art - important but not the main thing. In fact the pursuit of technical perfection - while it may lead to technically well-exposed, beautifully sharp photos that conform to the current norms of 'good photography' - usually leads to souless images that are pretty worthless in artistic terms - though wonderful examples of technical photography.

The artist needs to have the technique - then - have the courage and inspiration to leave it behind. Sticking with technical excellence leads you down a very different road from the photographic 'artist'.

Scapula Memory
17th February 2008, 10:30 AM
I think it will be very difficult for anyone to come on here and supply the definitive description of fine art in relation to photography. Maybe in the world of paintings and other categories it may be easier to draw the distinction but then it is all still subjective. What may work for you does not work for me. John`s picture is a good example, that does not speak to me as fine art yet is claimed as such.

A fellow poster here called Xpres recently posted some interesting city life pics in the Foto fair section which to me had a "fine art" feel to them, though as ever people you are welcome to disagree!

It may be true that some so called fine art togs command high fees, but then so do togs in other areas. The real power behind any image is one that makes you look, look and look some more.

Interesting thread, though I feel we may not find the answers Zuiko is looking for.

shenstone
17th February 2008, 11:11 AM
I think this could turn into a great discussion and am looking forward to reading peoples opinions on it. I though, have no real idea as to exactly what 'fine art' is when referring to photography. I have seen several photographers who on their www sites categorise themselves as 'fine art photographers' when to me, their shots are one or more of the usual génres i.e. portrait, landscape or natural history! I am unsure what it is about their photography that qualifies them to be 'fine art' photographs...?

Take this one for example (photographer will remain anon):

... the photographer identifies themselves as a fine art photographer, and this category is named; 'Digital Fine Art Photography - Landscape', but to me this is simply a nice(ish) if somewhat uninteresting and low contrast lake/water scene. What is it about this photograph that makes it fine art...?

Maybe it's me, and as Richard pointed out in his previous post, it is an entirely subjective matter - thus I just don't 'see it' in this image... do you 'see it'...? :)

I see another photographers site, where 90% of the images are very good portraits, in b&w or sepia, and the photographer once again 'fine art photography' (can't show images from there as it's a flash site). So once again I just don't get the 'fine art' thing and though I'd like to learn, I just don't understand exactly what this is.

John

I see what you are trying to do and I agree with the sentiments I think much of what is claimed to be fine art is just bcause it's printed on expesive paper and framed nicely with little or no merit.

However Take Care ! - it's a good debate, but it took me abut 3 seconds to find the photographers site from the link that provided the image and if this link gets googled and the photographer did the same he could take great exception.

You have taken that image out of it's context and criticised the photographer therefore importuning his moral rights as well as copyright.

If you want to use a publically posted image as an example it's better to provide a link that allows it to remain in context.

BTW I see that the photographer does not make any specific copyright statements on his website - trouble is that does not matter he retains these rights even if he does not specify such.

Back to topic - I'm lucky enough to know a number of fine artists ( in both senses of the word) and their work is streets ahead of that image. However that photographer also has some damn fine images on his site and I think that some of them would classify.

In my opinion - it's when you start breaking rules and limiting yourself and then come up with somthing that inspires and causes an emotional response ( whatever that emoption is)

Regards
Andy

E-P1 fan
17th February 2008, 11:20 AM
In my opinion - it's when you start breaking rules and limiting yourself and then come up with somthing that inspires and causes an emotional response ( whatever that emoption is)

The artist needs to have the technique - then - have the courage and inspiration to leave it behind. Sticking with technical excellence leads you down a very different road from the photographic 'artist'.

Seems like the faint echo of an initial consensus to me :rolleyes:

Nick Temple-Fry
17th February 2008, 12:24 PM
I know what fine sand means, at least in the context of navigation charts. It defines both the size of the sand particles and how they may be expected to bind together.

I know what Leslie Thomas meant when he had a character say of a developing girl “she'll be carrying a fine pair of churns soon”.

I know what “Purveyor of fine wines” means and why I'm more likely to go to Tescos.

And again I know what “fine on the port bow” means.

But as a collection of terms they are contradictory and give fine a definition of

“small and regular”
“large and rounded”
“over priced”
“closely in line with”

Anyone can add to this list of contradictory meanings, maybe doing so will make a 'fine' parlour game.

The only link is that they define a characteristic of an object, and that that characteristic is, within a certain limited context, agreed upon/understood by a set of observers.

So OK, I've failed with finding an understanding of 'fine'. How about 'art'; well I'd argue that 'art' is an organisation of shapes/colours/textures such that it conveys a 'meaning' or set of 'meanings' across a set of observers; and that the meaning is repeatable (by that I mean will be perceived by different populations of observers). Art therefore is something that meets the criteria of a communication from the artist to the observer, even if that communication is not a response that can be easily expressed as words.

So in 253 words (or 1400 characters) I've failed to add anything meaningful to the definition of 'fine art', I may even have failed to meet my own criteria of a 'communication'.

Time, I think, to goto Tescos, and then maybe this afternoon to take a few snaps.

Nick

Photocracy
17th February 2008, 12:33 PM
Seems like the faint echo of an initial consensus to me :rolleyes:

Yes, I think you're both on to something here. Here's my ten penneth worth. I think some photographers award themselves the 'fine art' badge when they start trying to sell images. In this context it means little more than "hey, buy my work". I know of a glamour photographer who has business cards with "[SoandSo] fine art photographer" on them. I can't argue with the quality of his work; it's better than I could achieve, but really, glamour photography is not fine art - is it? I think of it more as ***s out for the lads photography, and afixing a 'fine art' label to this is, for me, poluting whatever useful meaning the term might or might not have. BTW, I make a huge distinction between nude photography and glamour, just in case anyone thought otherwise. For me, the former certainly could be fine art.

E-P1 fan
17th February 2008, 02:14 PM
I don't actually know the difference between art photography and 'fine' art photography. I think the term, as Nick says, can cover a multitude of meanings - and sins.

There's surely a difference between fine artists (in any medium) and those handful that are recognised as the most important and influential 'Artists' in the true sense.

Can only one genre of photography qualify as fine art?

For example can street photography and candids qualify?

And - Who decides?

Scapula Memory
17th February 2008, 04:56 PM
So really we can assume that fine art is anything you want it to be and in some cases more than what you ever imagined.

E-P1 fan
17th February 2008, 05:27 PM
Well yes and no really.

It can be anything - but it needs to be accepted by more than a handful of people as such for it to be in the running.

For example I personally can't stand much of the Hirst/Emin genre - but- someone has decreed it to be 'art' and the art establishment has legitimized this view by throwing millions of pounds at them both.

Look back at the Constable/Turner debate in 19th C. Same thing.... entrenched positions often quite violently in opposition. Now they are both recognised as high art. :confused:

ewan
17th February 2008, 05:36 PM
Definition from the Little Oxford Dictionary:
fine 1 a, of a high quality; excellent; pure, refined; imposing; free from rain[hehe]
3 fine arts, arts appealing to sense of beauty, esp. painting,sculpture and architecture.

art n, human creative skill or its application; branch of creative activity concerned with imitative and imaginative designs, e.g. painting;
fine arts; thing in which skill can be exercised.

"who decides" you, the creator, or the viewer, do.

E-P1 fan
17th February 2008, 06:34 PM
Yep - BUT - it needs more than one person's view for something to be legitimized.

shenstone
17th February 2008, 09:05 PM
Yep - BUT - it needs more than one person's view for something to be legitimized.

I agree, but the trouble is that it can be emperors New Clothes and it just takes a load of people to be too scared to say how ineffectual & irrelevant it can be.

Sometimes the one honest opinion should outweigh the mutual backslapping

Regards
Andy

Xpres
17th February 2008, 09:06 PM
Great thread :) - My 2p - If someone other than the artist is willing to pay good money, call it Art and put it on his wall - then Art it is. Fine Art even. Although trying to make the distinction between the fine and the dross as one might distinguish fine wine or fine food from the rest, is impossible. It's still Art, if that's what you want to call it.

Meogeo
17th February 2008, 09:26 PM
I do not want to tread on toes here, but I believe fine art is done by a painter or a sculpter who works with pencils, charcoal, paints and granite. Photography is another type of skill and I am not taking anything away from the photographer as he or she are able to take a photograph that is pleasing to the eye. But at the end of the day the photograph is a print of an image taken with a devise the Camera.

This is what I beleive but please pull me up if you feel I am wrong.

E-P1 fan
17th February 2008, 09:35 PM
I agree, but the trouble is that it can be emperors New Clothes and it just takes a load of people to be too scared to say how ineffectual & irrelevant it can be.

Sometimes the one honest opinion should outweigh the mutual backslapping

Regards
Andy

Oh yes Andy - I totally agree with you. I think the Emin/Hirst lobby are Emperor's New Clothesists - but at least today in 2008 my view matters nought against the many who support the concept.

There's maybe two types of 'Art' - the personal and the public. You can like something which puts it into the former category - but for it to be legitimized - written up etc - it needs a movement -whether we think that's real or shallow. Of course it changes over time. What is hailed as Art today need not last the test of time.

Same in popular culture. Should we call it Spice Girls syndrome :) - remember when they could do NO wrong! But now.......... they had to cancel the end of their much vaunted world tour for lack of interest!! Same talentless bimbos - different result.

shenstone
17th February 2008, 09:40 PM
Oh yes Andy - I totally agree with you. I think the Emin/Hirst lobby are Emperor's New Clothesists - but at least today in 2008 my view matters nought against the many who support the concept.

There's maybe two types of 'Art' - the personal and the public. You can like something which puts it into the former category - but for it to be legitimized - written up etc - it needs a movement -whether we think that's real or shallow. Of course it changes over time. What is hailed as Art today need not last the test of time.

Same in popular culture. Should we call it Spice Girls syndrome :) - remember when they could do NO wrong! But now.......... they had to cancel the end of their much vaunted world tour for lack of interest!! Same talentless bimbos - different result.


RE your last point - Maybe ;), but you gotta admit that they are more photogenic than some ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tracey_Emin_1.jpg

Regards
Andy

Xpres
17th February 2008, 09:45 PM
But at the end of the day the photograph is a print of an image taken with a devise the Camera.



A photograph is just a means for someone to show someone else something they have seen - to communicate. A fine photograph may be communicating a fine thing or perhaps the print is a fine print produced by an artisan and agonised over for days. Does that make it fine art?

Zuiko
17th February 2008, 10:09 PM
Thanks everyone for your comments and opinions so far. I'm a little wiser as to how to define "fine art photography," but it seems to me it's always going to be difficult to quantify whether or not a specific picture, or even type or style of picture, qualifies for the label. Nevertheless, it is clear that if you become accepted as a "fine art" photographer, then you can command some rather lucrative fees for print sales. With that in mind, it would be useful for any photographer to get a little closer to the holy grail of realising exactly what constitutes "fine art."

Some of the posts on this thread have at least given me ideas for further research. I started with the Wikipedia definition:-

Fine art photography
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Fine art photography, sometimes simply called art photography, refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography, the latter's main focus being to sell a product or service. In the 19th and 20th century, prints were usually done in limited editions to inflate their value to dealers, and collectors.


An artist doing fine art photography is creating photographs primarily to satisfy their own vision and creative intent. The final creative reason for a fine art photograph is the photograph itself. It is not a means to another end except perhaps to please those besides the photographer who behold it. Fine art photography can be used to promote something. They are created most importantly to be true to the artist’s vision of beauty. We can see this by looking at Ansel Adams' work of Yosemite and Yellowstone. He is one of the least disputed fine art photographers of the 20th century and these images were done while he was trying to raise public awareness of these two locations and to have them protected.

Well, there's a few interesting phrases in that definition:-

creating photographs primarily to satisfy own vision and creative intent

It is not a means to another end except perhaps to please those besides the photographer who behold it

created most importantly to be true to the artist’s vision of beauty

Hmmm, I can honestly say those three statements apply to a photograph I took earlier today. So does it qualify as fine art?

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/031_r_s.jpg

Before reading that definition I would not have been so presumptious. Maybe I am entitled to claim that label for my photograph. But even if I accept that I have created a work of fine art, the burning question remains, "is it good fine art?

It seems this topic needs even deeper exploration if we are to get close to an answer.........my research will continue, hopefully with your help.

Zuiko

Nick Temple-Fry
18th February 2008, 01:25 AM
Zuiko

I don't know, there is enough technical perfection to give the eye clear context (something I felt Pants lacked), but enough blown light to make the mind and eye ask questions.

A fine photograph - without doubt, art - unquestionably.

Fine Art, well you've given it to me for free, so it probably doesn't qualify. But maybe blown up and framed it would be better valued,

Nick

Hiding_Pup
18th February 2008, 02:21 AM
I'm really glad this thread's generating interest and taking off. For me, the crux of the matter when it comes to pinning a definition on art lies in its uniqueness. "The artist is always beginning," Ezra Pound once wrote. "Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth." Pound's philosophy on art could be summarized in three words: 'Make it new'. Following this train of thought, any portfolio of photographs that are, to all intents and purposes, identical to images that have been taken before are not art. Even if a photographer is adept at copying the style of his favourite influence, it isn't art. Why? Because it's already been done.

There's a relationship, therefore, between contemporary art and the art that has come before it. Pound, as I understand him, seemed more interested in the newness of true art, but his friend TS Eliot became particularly interested in new art's relationship to tradition.

TS Eliot's essay, 'Tradition and the Individual Talent' (1919) seems to me to be a pretty useful touchstone for any discussion about art. You can read more about it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition_and_the_Individual_Talent

Like Pound, Eliot's focus in primarily on poetry but I think his ideas are equally applicable to visual arts too.

In a nutshell, Eliot asserts that each work of art exists in relation to everything that has come before it and that the best artists have both a keen understanding of the historical origins of their creative ideas *and* a clear eye on the present. In creating a new work of art, the artist adds to that tradition and, in adding to it - because they are of the present - changes the tradition as a whole. The new art changes how we perceive the old art. It gives it a new inflection and it becomes, itself, art for future artists to respond to.

From a practical point of view, I (provisionally) suggest that we could say a photograph, regardless of its technical merits, might fail as a work of art:

1.) If we felt we'd seen something overly similar before. Perhaps, in this scenario, the artist would be duplicating something that'd already been done without adding their contribution of the present. An example of this might be a photograph of a group of tourists in front of a tourist attraction, smiling. We recognize it instantly and so it fails to be aesthetically interesting.

2.) If we felt that the vision conveyed in the work of art we viewed was one that had been done and done better elsewhere. In this case, the photographer would be failing as an artist in not acknowledging the tradition that they were attempting to participate in.

3.) If we felt that the work of art was completely off-the-wall and completely divorced from anything that had come before it, in which case we'd have every right to be baffled. Some contemporary art gets unfairly scoffed at because its viewers have no idea where it's coming from (Hirst's portion of cow is a fine case in point) or because it's easily replicated (and its viewers forget that the artistic value of art lies in its newness rather than its execution).

In my mind, fine art is art that makes those great changes to artistic tradition. Of course, fine art is not an abstract idea - but one ruled by the material world, in which gallery owners, museums collectors, and the like are constantly trying to anticipate (and promote) the work they think will go down in history as art that made a significant change. Presumably, there'll be mistakes made from time to time (Emperor's New Clothes syndrome) but only because the art world quests for those ever-elusive works that, when seen, are nothing less than earth-shattering.

Xpres
18th February 2008, 08:23 AM
but only because the art world quests for those ever-elusive works that, when seen, are nothing less than earth-shattering.

Well, there you have it! What a splintered world we have to look forward to. ;)


This is a great thread/discussion. I'm looking forward to a few more. :) If only internet forums had existed when I was a student, things must be so different now. But then I think I'd miss the bar.

E-P1 fan
18th February 2008, 08:52 AM
Of course we shouldn't forget5 that the Art World - be that the photographic side or not - is fuelled by money. What is 'making' money - who is on the 'up' - who is 'worth buying' - just like stocks and shares.

On the recent Picture This series the gallery owner judge said quite clearly that he was looking not just for a really goodphotographer but one who was commercial at the highest levels and who could deliver to the standard his market wanted - again and again and again - like a little production line.

In the end therefore is high or fine art simply - what is selling at the upper end of the market- and is therefore driven and nourished by a very small group of very wealthy buyers - with the many thousands of slightly less wealthy (but still wealthy to us) - who aspire to being a member of that top group eventually - following the leads and trends set by the current top 0.05%??

Is it just - what will make MORE money for the rich patron than something else?

DTD
18th February 2008, 11:09 AM
I think two things define some photography as 'art photography'.

First is the intention of the photographer – does the work have a meaning beyond just depicting what something looks like.

Second is context – if the work is hung on a gallery wall, then it's art.
I think Marcel Duchamp and a urinal proved this around 1917.

To me, 'fine art' as a term applied to photography suggests a high level of craftsmanship.

And as I always lament at times like this – why didn't I buy any Bill Brandt prints in the 1980s?

Hiding_Pup
18th February 2008, 12:18 PM
Definitely there's a relationship between art and money. Some think of it as a bad thing:

http://nymag.com/arts/art/season2007/38981/

But the truth is that there's always been money behind the scenes, pushing artists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage

I'm sure there's lots of imitation when it comes to the top 0.05% who make it big in the art market. But, then, that imitation would presumably fail wouldn't it? If I want to buy a cow in a box, I'd want it to be a Hirst cow. I'd want it to be *that* Hirst cow, not some art student knock-off. Alternatively, once an idea had been duplicated enough, it would, by definition, no longer be the best new thing, and attention would turn to what is new.

I'm glad some posters mentioned sculpture and painting. Photography's played second fiddle to those arts for a long while now but given the buzz of activity in the auction houses these past ten years over photographs, surely photography is maturing nicely as a well-respected form of fine art:

http://www.artcritical.com/appel/BAFall2005.htm

E-P1 fan
18th February 2008, 05:39 PM
HP - you're a good tog - what's your personal definition of Fine Art Photography.

Zuiko
19th February 2008, 12:26 AM
Thank you to everyone who has so far contributed to make this a very thought provoking thread. The question of "fine art," as opposed to just "art" and its relationship to photography is obviously complex and open to many interpretations, definitions and shades of opinion.

Hiding Pup has provided enough links already to keep me busy for some considerable time, if I am to explore them fully, and everyone seems to have slightly different views, all of them valid, on the relationship between art and photography.

Nick was quite kind in his response to my snowdrops image posted yesterday; I wonder if there is an air of caution following "Pants." For what it's worth, my own opinion (which is naturally highly subjective) is that I am extremely pleased with it and I got quite a buzz when I saw the result. But, and this is a big but, I don't think it has that seemingly indefinable quality of fine art and for me to suggest otherwise was slightly presumptious. Sure, in the context of the Wikipedia definition it ticked most boxes but in truth it's not innovative, I'm sure we've all seen similar, and better, examples before.

But is that the only reason to preclude it as fine art? I've been looking at the gallery of Xpres as a particular photograph was mentioned earlier in this thread and I must say I've seen rather similar images before. But, City Snap does have, for me at least, a certain indefinable quality, maybe a sense of completeness and an air of confidence in the way it takes ownership of this style that I believe could qualify it as fine art.

Maybe style, which in photography is rather easier to recognise than to define (or so it seems to me), is the key, or at least one of several keys, to determining where to hang that elusive label of fine art. In fact, I think that Xpres has several other images in his gallery that could meet the criteria, namely Pier, Watch Out and Testing the Water. I would be interested if any one else has a view on this. Xpres, I hope you don't mind me using your images as examples, but are you able to share your thoughts on this with us? Had you considered your work in this context?

In some posts the relationship between fine art and money has been mentioned, which is a bit of a paradox in the context of the Wikipedia definition suggesting that fine art is the result of a noble desire to be creative and produce fine work for its own reward, regarless of commercial considerations. Nick suggested in his summary of my photograph that the fact I had provided it for free was a reason to preclude it from being fine art.

Certainly, for a photographer to work full time in the production of fine art images fianacial support is essential, either in the form of sponsorship or regular sales of the work produced. It is clearly fundemental for a photographer in this position to have the single-mindedness and clarity of vision necessary to avoid his creativity being compromised by commercial pressure to conform to a proven formular.

The amateur, however, enjoys the luxury of being able to explore his own creative boundaries without the tainted influence of money, driven only by a passion for his subject and rejoycing in the artistic possibilities of his chosen medium. Here lays a contradiction; we can all indulge in our hobby with a purity of motive that befits fine art, even if we lack the ability to actually achieve results that class as fine art. Failing to achieve perfection doesn't dilute the worthiness of our efforts; the pursuit of perfection for no other reason than a love of what we are doing is reward in itself.

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
19th February 2008, 12:50 AM
No (and, yes, I may have been a tiny bit reticent about commenting), I didn't think your snowdrop was fine art either, despite being a very good snowdrop picture as snowdrop pictures go. Photographing flowers well is a tricky business (one of the reasons I gave up on them ages ago - all mine look like rejects from a Sutton Seeds catalogue) but getting something even approaching the intensity of vision found, for example, in photographs by Imogen Cunningham or paintings by Georgia O'Keefe takes dedication and a rare talent indeed. If you're not familiar with them already, take a look and tell me what you think, particularly in relation to your own work:

http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/indexflash.php
http://www.imogencunningham.com/

Nick Temple-Fry
19th February 2008, 01:46 AM
Photographing flowers well is a tricky business (one of the reasons I gave up on them ages ago - all mine look like rejects from a Sutton Seeds catalogue)


Seems a very strange reason not to at least attempt your own take on flowers. Not least because any given artist has only presented their own interpretation, limited by the constraints of that one persons visions. I doubt if any one artist could express everything about a subject, even given an infinite life term.

Or is 'fine' art merely the process of finding a niche that no one else occupies, akin to business seeking a 'unique selling point' to ensure it's 'market placement'?

Should I consider demographics, perhaps engage a 'focus group'?

Am I to calculate a return on investment for pleasure?

http://www.temple-fry.co.uk/wbmyautumnfollies.jpg

(Autumn Follies)

http://www.temple-fry.co.uk/wbleftmenow.jpg

(Left me now)

Yours

Calculating my percentages

Nick

Nick Temple-Fry
19th February 2008, 02:00 AM
And I should have added, that you seem to assume that a photograph that has as its object flowers, is in fact about flowers. Whereas the flower could just be a shape, a texture, a colour, a metaphor for what the artist was feeling and seeking to express. Even if only to an audience of one.

After all this is writing, is it truly about communication?

Nick

Photocracy
19th February 2008, 11:21 AM
And I should have added, that you seem to assume that a photograph that has as its object flowers, is in fact about flowers. Whereas the flower could just be a shape, a texture, a colour, a metaphor for what the artist was feeling and seeking to express. Even if only to an audience of one.
After all this is writing, is it truly about communication?

Nick

Talking to an 'empty room' seems a little pointless. Even the creator can not stay in the room alone for ever. Any art which exists in this context has only ephemeral meaning to one person. What is the value of a thought not shared with anyone? What is the value of unilateral dialogue?

Apparently, sounds do not exist without ears to turn the soundwaves into a sound. Wouldn't the same apply to art. Does it not exist untill eyes turn the light rays into a picture or words into meaning? Therefore, wouldn't art (fine or otherwise) in an 'empty room' , once abandoned by the creator, contain unprocessed light rays of no meaning?

Hiding_Pup
19th February 2008, 11:38 AM
And I should have added, that you seem to assume that a photograph that has as its object flowers, is in fact about flowers.
Nick

No, I don't think this at all - the work of Cunningham and O'Keefe, for example, seem to me more about form (fragility and strength) and female sexuality than they do about flowers. I don't do flower pictures myself because I have nothing that I want to explore that would involve flowers. You're rather good at them though and, if you get the chance, I urge you to go and see Sarah Jones's exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford:

http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/exhibition/sarahJones/

To some extent, I do think that being a fine art photographer is about finding one's niche, but not in the market-driven way that you suggest. To me, it's about creating a style of photography which is so uniquely yours that it can be spotted a mile off. It's unlikely that that vision, once found, will lend itself to every subject, though it may lend itself to many. Someone who shows a genius for street photography, for instance, is unlikely to be particularly good at studio-based still life arrangements too, in the same way that a virtuoso violinist may conceivably have nothing to do with the piano.

The curse of the enthusiast, I reckon, is that we want to take every picture, do everything. It's for this reason that manufacturers in the past peddled the twin zoom combo (28-70mm; 70-210mmm) as the answer to all our prayers. Nowadays, the range is even greater (18-55mm, 55-300mm - and that's with a crop factor!). More experienced photographers, however, tend to know which focal lengths they like and look for pictures they can take with those focal lengths: they know whether they're wide-angle users at heart of telephoto people instead. Some go even further: the portrait photographer, Jane Bown, for instance, had preferred shutter speed and aperture settings and would move her subject into light which suited those (and put them at a distance that suited her 50mm or 85mm). Similarly, more experienced photographers tend to concentrate their efforts on fewer subjects.

So, is it all about communication? If finding a unique and authentic artistic voice is the goal of the true artist, then, yes, I suppose it is. That said, I don't think there's any such thing as a fine artist savante - someone who can instinctively discover their artistic voice without knowledge of art that has come before. So for me, fine art is art which simultaneously demonstrates an awareness of the traditions in which it seeks to participate in and which articulates the unique and personal vision of the artist. Great art is art which does both in bucketloads. In addition, great art is open to layers of interpretation - but cannot be wholly defined by those interpretations.

Xpres
19th February 2008, 02:02 PM
Xpres, I hope you don't mind me using your images as examples, but are you able to share your thoughts on this with us? Had you considered your work in this context?

Ok - now I'm on the spot. :o Funnily enough I have a degree in art photography, not that this equips one with the technical ability to produce good photography - far from it. But I suppose it does make you look at the world in a certain way when making an image, perhaps weighed down with all the baggage from your studies and experience. Which can be said of anyone but the influences are different. However, I'm a stay at home Dad for the moment so all of these were produced purely for pleasure and mostly as family snaps, so no they weren't considered in a fine art context.

But to ramble a little on the fine art thing -

When dealing with photography I think it's more of a marketing tactic from galleries and media who have a financial interest in the business of Art. The 'tag' creates an elitist illusion around the genre which is self perpetuating once you've reached a kind of critical mass. In packaging their product this way the galleries and agents are trying to piggyback on the qualities associated with the traditional 'fine arts' and carve a niche for themselves. Perhaps they're already there but I still can't help seeing photography in terms of the professional and the artisan - both of which the amateur can aspire to if not content with his status - as it is perhaps purer than both.
The dabate seems well into the 'what is art' argument which has become something of a data sponge (and a waste of paper too probably). For me there is photography and there is art and art is all encompassing. Anything can be art but not everything is photography.
I try to make images that communicate, that have a narrative, which is what I like about photography. I also have the luxury of being an amateur (sadly soon to end) and able to do as I please. Style seems to be a by product of doing something over and over and absorbing all the images around you - over and over. We get set in our ways and gravitate towards a way of working, whether intentional or not, which others can identify in most of what we produce. That's maybe the marketable aspect which interests the galleries as they can see a hook to hang their packaging on.
I've just started to try a little wildlife photography which I find hard going, technically anyway, but will the results still have the same look as my other stuff?

End of ramble.....

As an example of a photographer who is big the the galleries and auction houses why not ponder the work of Jacques Henri Lartigue. I don't think his intention was to produce 'fine art'.... was it?

Oh.. I have a flower.....

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/P6090160.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/2894)

Hiding_Pup
19th February 2008, 02:20 PM
For me, fine art is progressive: it pushes at the boundaries of art, into the unknown. Lartigue, for all his faults, was a radical and an iconclast. Permanently fixated on movement and uncovering the world of movement; committed to what might these days be called the 'snapshot aesthetic' and using it to capture a society travelling at breakneck speed, Lartigue certainly opened up new frontiers for photographic practice (and artistic practice by extension). That puts him in my great artist category, regardless of what his intentions were (as a professional painter and photographer).

I'm sure gallery owners, curators, collectors are out to make a buck, but I think most of them would be miserable at their jobs if they didn't actually like art. The best collectors do think shrewdly about investment potential but I also think they go on instinct much of the time too and buy only when art work leaps out at them. So two things going on in that respect.

OlyPaul
19th February 2008, 06:13 PM
The amateur, however, enjoys the luxury of being able to explore his own creative boundaries without the tainted influence of money, driven only by a passion for his subject and rejoycing in the artistic possibilities of his chosen medium. Here lays a contradiction; we can all indulge in our hobby with a purity of motive that befits fine art, even if we lack the ability to actually achieve results that class as fine art. Failing to achieve perfection doesn't dilute the worthiness of our efforts; the pursuit of perfection for no other reason than a love of what we are doing is reward in itself.

Zuiko

And I think this also applies equally well to artists .

I think the fact that most famous artists were starving amatures and were not recognized until there demise speaks volumes about the pretentiousness ( I know art brigade) and the profit motived circle of "art lovers" that is still alive today.

I remember a article sticking in my mind from a book by a friend of Picasso who said he was at a art auction with Picasso when one of his works came up and was sold for a great amount of money and Picasso said to his friend thats a fake! But said his friend I was there when you painted it, yes said Picasso that how I know its a fake. That to me speaks volumes about how art is so indefinable and it is the pretentiousness of others that deem to know what art is or is not that has the most sway. :)

I always remember three pieces of wisdom that was imparted to me when starting photography many years ago...

1- If it pleases you then you have succeeded.

2- If others like it that is a bonus.

3- If a judge or critic likes it then thats a bloody miracle.;)

Flowers..fine art or just snaps..I have no idea and I took them..but they do please me:)

http://www.pbase.com/paulsilkphotography/image/28772268.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/paulsilkphotography/image/60852311.jpg

Zuiko
19th February 2008, 10:08 PM
No (and, yes, I may have been a tiny bit reticent about commenting), I didn't think your snowdrop was fine art either, despite being a very good snowdrop picture as snowdrop pictures go. Photographing flowers well is a tricky business (one of the reasons I gave up on them ages ago - all mine look like rejects from a Sutton Seeds catalogue) but getting something even approaching the intensity of vision found, for example, in photographs by Imogen Cunningham or paintings by Georgia O'Keefe takes dedication and a rare talent indeed. If you're not familiar with them already, take a look and tell me what you think, particularly in relation to your own work:

http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/indexflash.php
http://www.imogencunningham.com/


Thanks for the links, I've had a very cursory look and will have to revisit when I have more time. But an initial impression - I may be wrong, but I'm starting to form the realisation that the difference between fine art and a photograph that, despite being excellent, doesn't qualify as fine art is as follows:-

In fine art the subject is secondary to the artist's vision and acts as a vehicle for the artists expression of that vision.

In an excellent photograph the photographer has used his skill to express what is remarkable about the subject, be it the beauty of a flower, the grandeur of a mountain scene or the character of a person. The photographer's skill is secondary to the qualities of the subject and acts as a vehicle for the celebration and expression of that subject.

That doesn't automatically make a photograph that is recognisable as fine art better or more valid than one that isn't, it's just a different way of relating the photographer, subject and medium to each other, usually with different goals. Which one gains favour will ultimately depend upon personal preferences.

Zuiko

Zuiko
19th February 2008, 10:38 PM
And I think this also applies equally well to artists .

I think the fact that most famous artists were starving amatures and were not recognized until there demise speaks volumes about the pretentiousness ( I know art brigade) and the profit motived circle of "art lovers" that is still alive today.

I remember a article sticking in my mind from a book by a friend of Picasso who said he was at a art auction with Picasso when one of his works came up and was sold for a great amount of money and Picasso said to his friend thats a fake! But said his friend I was there when you painted it, yes said Picasso that how I know its a fake. That to me speaks volumes about how art is so indefinable and it is the pretentiousness of others that deem to know what art is or is not that has the most sway. :)

I always remember three pieces of wisdom that was imparted to me when starting photography many years ago...

1- If it pleases you then you have succeeded.

2- If others like it that is a bonus.

3- If a judge or critic likes it then thats a bloody miracle.;)

Flowers..fine art or just snaps..I have no idea and I took them..but they do please me:)

http://www.pbase.com/paulsilkphotography/image/28772268.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/paulsilkphotography/image/60852311.jpg

Maybe your rather spledid floral images are not art, fine art, or whatever in the sense that to qualify as such requires a greater stamp of personal vision, self-expression and unique style upon the image. However, they do capture the simple and pure beauty of the subjects, allowing us to appreciate them for what they are, uncomplicated by labels or expectations. And if that simple beauty delights our eye and draws an emotional response from us, then lets just enjoy it at face value, without the need to analyse or categorise. It may not be art, but does it matter?

Zuiko

Zuiko
19th February 2008, 11:00 PM
[Quote:
Xpres, I hope you don't mind me using your images as examples, but are you able to share your thoughts on this with us? Had you considered your work in this context?

Ok - now I'm on the spot. Funnily enough I have a degree in art photography, not that this equips one with the technical ability to produce good photography - far from it. But I suppose it does make you look at the world in a certain way when making an image, perhaps weighed down with all the baggage from your studies and experience. Which can be said of anyone but the influences are different. However, I'm a stay at home Dad for the moment so all of these were produced purely for pleasure and mostly as family snaps, so no they weren't considered in a fine art context.

Sorry, it wasn't my intention to make you feel uncomfortable or put you on the spot, but thanks for your input.

It's interesting, I have an untrained eye regarding art and as for "fine art" I readily admit I don't even know what I'm looking for.

You, by contrast, have formal training on the subject and qualification to a high standard, although you don't consciously employ that when taking "snaps" purely for pleasure.

And yet, there must be some indefinable aspect of your snaps that led my untrained eye to believe they might be considered as art. Maybe it's that elusive factor which we label "style," and maybe style is one of the fudementals for defining fine art.

Zuiko

Nick Temple-Fry
20th February 2008, 01:02 AM
Paul_S

Can I just say I really like your two flower shots; the first because (dare I say it) it is so pretty, such a nice (oh dear - that's my credibility gone for good) balance of colours; the second because it is so bright, so sensuous, so open to continual re-interpretation.

....................

It may well be, with the internet and 'cheap' digital publication, that art has left the art establishment behind. That Tracy E et al are just the dinosaurs of a dyeing establishment, the Brezhnefs of an irrelevant dynasty.

Perhaps the same revolution that is overtaking poetic art with rap and slam will engulf the visual mediums, an anarchy of journeymen creators uncensored by approval.

Enjoying my own pretensions

Nick

Hiding_Pup
20th February 2008, 01:05 AM
Agreed - the first is pretty but the second is by far the more adventurous and therefore unexpected image.

RSGodfrey
20th February 2008, 06:18 AM
[QUOTE=Zuiko;8188] It may not be art, but does it matter?

It certainly can matter when art and politics collide. I am not an art historian but am aware of both the supression of art and the use of art by totalitarian regimes to support their powerbase and suppress opposition.

Richard

E-P1 fan
20th February 2008, 08:45 AM
Rather than the suppression is it not usually that art is utilised as a convenient oblique public way of expressing disatisfaction against a totalitarian regime. Therefore the 'campaigning effect' of revolutionary art is often brutally quashed by the sitting regime.

Of course art is also commandeered by those regimes in the form of propaganda. Everyone from Mao to Sadam has done this.

Photocracy
20th February 2008, 10:52 AM
Is this photographer a fine artist? He uses the label.

http://www.dungenessgallery.co.uk/default.asp

Zuiko - "...In fine art the subject is secondary to the artist's vision and acts as a vehicle for the artists expression of that vision."

Are his subjects secondary to his vision with the former being merely vehicles for artistic expression?

Hiding_Pup
20th February 2008, 02:37 PM
If you were a curator, would you buy them?

Going back to something said earlier, it's true that amateurs are free to pursue their creative visions without being tethered by financial concerns, but they also don't get to spend week after week, year after year hammering away at their art full-time. You simply can't be as good an artist as you can be if you only ever spend a few hours each weekend working on it, in the same way that you can't be a good musician if this is the amount of practice you do, or a decent novelist if the only time you write is during your lunch hour.

One of the reasons why art from professional artists costs so much is because they take time to make.

This caught my eye in the papers this morning:
http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/news/story/0,,2258101,00.html

Xpres
20th February 2008, 03:08 PM
I recall Einstein bashing out some theory in his lunch hour while he was a patent clerk. :)

Hiding_Pup
20th February 2008, 03:10 PM
Science is easier :-)

Photocracy
20th February 2008, 06:00 PM
If you were a curator, would you buy them?...

If I was a curator, I would visit this forum and post the question I asked previously.

Zuiko
21st February 2008, 12:02 AM
Is this photographer a fine artist? He uses the label.

http://www.dungenessgallery.co.uk/default.asp



Are his subjects secondary to his vision with the former being merely vehicles for artistic expression?

Hi Rob,

His photographs are very competent, but even in my state of confusion as to what constitutes fine art I would have to say these examples don't fit that category. And no, his subjects aren't secondary to his vision, in fact the images are very subject orientated with little evidence of artistic expression or vision - to the extent that some pictures are, IMO, little more than record shots.

That's not meant to devalue his work, much of which I like very much, much more than I like many pictures that are classed as fine art. Just because an image is not fine art doesn't, for me, undervalue it in any way. If I did take that view I would effectively write off as worthless every photograph I have taken in more than 30 years!

Zuiko

Photocracy
21st February 2008, 12:16 AM
Thanks Zuiko,

I agree with your analyses. It's certainly the excellent and enjoyable work of a skilled photographer, but I also find the vision to be a little elusive.

Hiding_Pup
21st February 2008, 01:17 AM
I agree too - but I don't think anyone here is pushing a choice between fine art or subject-driven record photography, Zuiko. There is, surely, room enough in the world for both. The latter makes travel books more interesting, provides material for guinea pig calendars, postcards, tourism brochures, advertisements, food packaging - and that's the list I get just by looking around the room I'm currently sitting in. It also makes family photo albums and snapshots of friends, which are invaluable and often irreplaceable (not that photos of family can't be art too - Sally Mann is a perfect case in point).

So surely there's enough room in the world for both fine art photographs and photographs by skilled photographers, and even photographs by not-so-skilled photographers: the real question is whether there's enough room in forums like this one for a little fine art too, a little sustained vision that goes beyond the subjects photographed, into the hearts and minds of the photographers themselves, delves back into the humanity's past and looks forward, through a glass darkly, into the future.

It's an ambitious undertaking to be sure but, on the other hand, we've got some of the best photographic equipment that's ever been created. Besides, it's hardly like we're Canikon drones, right?

Zuiko
21st February 2008, 03:16 AM
I agree too - but I don't think anyone here is pushing a choice between fine art or subject-driven record photography, Zuiko. There is, surely, room enough in the world for both. The latter makes travel books more interesting, provides material for guinea pig calendars, postcards, tourism brochures, advertisements, food packaging - and that's the list I get just by looking around the room I'm currently sitting in. It also makes family photo albums and snapshots of friends, which are invaluable and often irreplaceable (not that photos of family can't be art too - Sally Mann is a perfect case in point).

So surely there's enough room in the world for both fine art photographs and photographs by skilled photographers, and even photographs by not-so-skilled photographers: the real question is whether there's enough room in forums like this one for a little fine art too, a little sustained vision that goes beyond the subjects photographed, into the hearts and minds of the photographers themselves, delves back into the humanity's past and looks forward, through a glass darkly, into the future.

It's an ambitious undertaking to be sure but, on the other hand, we've got some of the best photographic equipment that's ever been created. Besides, it's hardly like we're Canikon drones, right?


Ah, I didn't mean to imply there is any conflict between fine art and subject-driven photography, I was merely commenting on the examples that Rob brought to attention that I do not believe could be classified as fine art, for the same reasons as my snowdrop picture earlier in the thread. Sure, I had to make a conscious decision as to how I was going to photograph that snowdrop, but the image is still very much subject driven.

In fact, I don't believe I've ever taken a photograph that could be classed as art, fine or otherwise. Except, perhaps, this one?

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/MOVEMENT.jpg

Why do I think this may be different?

Well, for some time I'd visualised an image that suggested wind-blown leaves swirling around a tree by photographing leaves floating on moving water, past the reflection of a tree, using a slow shutter speed to create blurring of the moving elements. The picture would then be inverted. I tried a number of times on film, without much success due to the unpredictability of the results. Digital gave me the freedom of instant review so that I could ensure I'd got the effect I desired and when I chanced upon this pond I new immediately that it was perfect for the image I wanted to create. In this sense the subject is very much of secondary importance, acting mainly as a vehicle for my vision and as such I believe this image may be considered as art, be it good or bad.

Fine Art? Well, that's another matter and in essence what this thread is all about helping us to discover.

Of course, you may choose to disagree and pick my reasoning to pieces, but that's what healthy discussion on this forum is all about!

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
21st February 2008, 03:38 AM
Yes, this one's very different. I absolutely love it: it's striking, and original, and daringly uncompromising. Is there a bigger version you can share? I'd love to see it bigger.

I was reading an interview with David Bailey earlier this evening. It seemed pertinent to this discussion, particularly as the interview was conducted during the E-3 launch in London which some people here went to. "I don't care how you make an image, it's whether you're any good or not. Whether you're an artist or not. Most photographers just take pictures," he says, "most artists are just illustrators. But it's about finding that thing that you can't explain. I've never been that impressed with technique because if you can do it, someone else can do it. But you can't copy, say, Cartier Bresson - he's witch doctor. Miserable old bugger but he was a ******* genius..."

With this in mind, I'd definitely put 'Movement' in the witchcraft-art category.

Zuiko
21st February 2008, 04:07 AM
Yes, this one's very different. I absolutely love it: it's striking, and original, and daringly uncompromising. Is there a bigger version you can share? I'd love to see it bigger.

I was reading an interview with David Bailey earlier this evening. It seemed pertinent to this discussion, particularly as the interview was conducted during the E-3 launch in London which some people here went to. "I don't care how you make an image, it's whether you're any good or not. Whether you're an artist or not. Most photographers just take pictures," he says, "most artists are just illustrators. But it's about finding that thing that you can't explain. I've never been that impressed with technique because if you can do it, someone else can do it. But you can't copy, say, Cartier Bresson - he's witch doctor. Miserable old bugger but he was a ******* genius..."

With this in mind, I'd definitely put 'Movement' in the witchcraft-art category.


Wow, that's praise indeed - I wasn't quite expecting that! Thank you.

Here's a bigger version (hopefully)

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/MOVEMENT_1_jpg_r_72ppi_2.jpg

E-P1 fan
21st February 2008, 10:05 AM
I agree here - super super photograph - a class above the norm

Hiding_Pup
21st February 2008, 10:44 AM
A night's sleep and it's still insanely good. You sure this is the only picture you have in this league, Zuiko?

Xpres
21st February 2008, 11:01 AM
Yes, I agree too - excellent. I like it. I think you've ticked nearly all the boxes. :)

What about presentation and audience? Do you think you could sell it?

There might be an oportunity here for us to try a practical experiment - produce what we think is a fine art photograph and try and pass it off as such. That is get someone to buy it as a piece of fine art.

Any takers?

ianc
21st February 2008, 12:09 PM
Yes, I agree too - excellent. I like it. I think you've ticked nearly all the boxes. :)

What about presentation and audience? Do you think you could sell it?

There might be an oportunity here for us to try a practical experiment - produce what we think is a fine art photograph and try and pass it off as such. That is get someone to buy it as a piece of fine art.

Any takers?

A nice idea but the problem is would the person who bought it know what fine art photography is. You could just as easily take a subject driven photograph call it fine art photography and sell it as such. It's like the Dungeness Gallery photos, they are being sold as fine art photographs but from the posts most of us, myself included, don't think they are.

As for my photography it tends to be subject driven, mainly mountain landscapes, and while I think I have some nice images I wouldn't call them art let alone fine art. I hasten to add that doesn't mean that they don't have value but that value is derived from the composition of a naturally beautiful scene and not from any artistic message. I do make images which I call art, not too pretentiously I hope, but they involve little or no photography. They can be found at www.iancotterill.com

Ian C.

photonutter
21st February 2008, 12:18 PM
My personal view on this would be that a 'fine art photograph' would have been taken by a techniquely sound photographer who has chosen to ingore the rule book that they have studied, just as in the rest of the fine art world.

Nick Temple-Fry
21st February 2008, 12:34 PM
A nice idea but the problem is would the person who bought it know what fine art photography is. You could just as easily take a subject driven photograph call it fine art photography and sell it as such. It's like the Dungeness Gallery photos, they are being sold as fine art photographs but from the posts most of us, myself included, don't think they are.

As for my photography it tends to be subject driven, mainly mountain landscapes, and while I think I have some nice images I wouldn't call them art let alone fine art. I hasten to add that doesn't mean that they don't have value but that value is derived from the composition of a naturally beautiful scene and not from any artistic message. I do make images which I call art, not too pretentiously I hope, but they involve little or no photography. They can be found at www.iancotterill.com

Ian C.


Interesting idea - but can you really say that subject driven art is not fine art.

To take two school wall art images, then this would not be 'fine art'

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/largeImage?workNumber=NG1207

because it is largely representational (although it is a studio construct)

Whereas this looks representational but isn't

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/largeImage?workNumber=NG524&collectionPublisherSection=work

++++++++++++++++

By the way - had a quick glance at the art images on your gallery and was impressed.

Nick

Hiding_Pup
21st February 2008, 12:36 PM
Photographs of mountains can be art, a quick look at Ansel Adams' images of Yosemite proves that:

http://www.anseladams.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=9

As David Bailey whom I quoted above seems to suggest, anyone can call themselves an artist (even if they're actually illustrators) but, at the end of the day, their images stand alone and either work as art - or don't.

In the case of Adams, and the two paintings linked to - Constable(?) and Turner(?) - all three of them, though representational, seem to strike at ideas bigger than the subjects themselves: Adams seems to be an elegy for a frontier-America that's rapidly being encroached upon; Constable upholds an agrarian way of life or era that is also vanishing; ditto Turner, albeit in a very different and arguably more optimistic way. His Age of Steam is far more prosaic than what it replaces, but there's a certain beauty in it nonetheless, and one feels that his skies will remain unchanged, even when his beautiful warships of old are gone.

ianc
21st February 2008, 12:48 PM
Photographs of mountains can be art, a quick look at Ansel Adams' images of Yosemite proves that:

http://www.anseladams.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=9

As David Bailey whom I quoted above seems to suggest, anyone can call themselves an artist (even if they're actually illustrators) but, at the end of the day, their images stand alone and either work as art - or don't.

I wouldn't argue with you, all I'm saying is mine isn't. Ansel Adams had vision and style and I would class his photography as art.

Ian C.

ianc
21st February 2008, 12:51 PM
Interesting idea - but can you really say that subject driven art is not fine art.

To take two school wall art images, then this would not be 'fine art'

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/largeImage?workNumber=NG1207

because it is largely representational (although it is a studio construct)

Whereas this looks representational but isn't

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/largeImage?workNumber=NG524&collectionPublisherSection=work

++++++++++++++++

By the way - had a quick glance at the art images on your gallery and was impressed.

Nick

Again I agree both of these are art. Maybe subject driven wasn't the best phrase to use.

Ian C.

Zuiko
22nd February 2008, 12:17 AM
A night's sleep and it's still insanely good. You sure this is the only picture you have in this league, Zuiko?

Yes, it's a one off - not my usual style at all. My specialisation is landscapes, a subject for which I have great passion and which I intentionally allow my skills as a photographer to act as a vehicle for the landscape. As such, my images are very much subject driven and that's how I like it. It's my subject which is important to me, not my personal style of photography.

That's not to say I don't make any creative decisions or use my vision. Often I will visualise a scene and look for a suitable location or, having discovered a promising location I will consider which time of day, or time of year, will be best. It may be a long time and many visits before I get the light and mood that I want, but throughout the process the subject remains the reason for the photograph, not incidental to it. My motive is simply to portray the landscape at its best. I may be a craftsman, but I'm certainly not an artist!

A more typical example of my landscape work is;-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/EMBLETON_BAY_SUNRISE_e_s_r.jpg

I know it's not art, but I like it!

And more snowdrops (I adore snowdrops)

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/03_snowdrops_72ppi.jpg

Again, not art and subject driven, but that's my style.

Now that's not to say that subject driven photographs cannot be fine art. The most skillful photographers can achieve both in a single image. Ansel Adam's landscapes, for example, are often placed in the fine art category but to him the validity of the subject and promoting awareness of it were the overiding reason for photographing it. He would never have allowed his creative ambitions to impair this in any way and as such his photography was also very much subject driven.

This is a league way above most of us, a dream at best, but one to which it does us no harm to aspire. Three photographer's whom I consider are in this league, at least with some of their work, are Galen Rowell, Yousef Khanfar and Simon Marsden.

But if you want an example of an accomplished amateur who IMO produces a wide range of fine art images, take a look at the gallery of Horatio on the Four Thirds User Forum.

It's becoming clear to me as this thread progresses that the boudarys defining art and fine art in photography are more complex and open to interpretation than I ever imagined and perhaps provides credence to the old cliche, "I don't know much about art but I know what I like." And this must be infinitely preferable to the parody of this cliche that I've also heard, "I know everything about art but I don't know what I like!"

Zuiko

crimbo
22nd February 2008, 07:37 AM
So...fine art/photography is that which a self appointed consensus deems it to be so...

Why so vehement? I once made a negative remark about the Turner Prize while on a F.Art course for photography in the landscape - which I did enjoy- and I was rounded on by a couple of artists - they make a good part of their living from their art -and told that the Turner Prize with its unmade beds and half cattle in brine, was for the body of the artists work, not just the work on display!

I also have opportunity to put my images in a local gallery - if they get past the curator. No I am am not saying that I am the next Cartier-Bresson but I do turn out the odd reasonable image (look for crimbo here http://com1.runboard.com/bthedigitalmonochromeforum ) but I was at the gallery the other day and saw some technically abysmal images - I am not a person with a fine art degree

So this rant is my tuppence worth...if you want to be a F.Artist then just call yourself one. when other F.Artists treat you as a F.Artist, then you are a F.Artist and hence by definition any photograph you produce is F.Art!!!

chillin' down...do it for yourself and if others like it then yippee!

(try to hide raw nerve):D

Xpres
22nd February 2008, 10:39 AM
fine art/photography is that which a self appointed consensus deems it to be so

Not the conclusion I'm getting so far - (do you think there is a conclusion?) I don't think it's about what the artist thinks of himself but how his product comes across and is perceived by others, so I think general consensus - unless there is some higher authority we should be mindful of? Aren't we talking about images rather than the maker?

I had a look at you pics Chris and was very impressed - have yourself a yippee moment. :)

Hiding_Pup
22nd February 2008, 11:35 AM
I think I was the person who put the phrase 'fine art' into people's heads here, and I used it in order to further differentiate between the act of just 'taking a picture' and 'conceiving of the picture as art'.

I did this because you seldom hear about 'art photography' but you often hear about 'fine art photography'. It's a phrase that makes sure that people think about it in the same way as they do the traditional fine arts, e.g. sculpture and painting. No-one ever really talks about 'fine art sculpture' because its 'fine art' status has already been determined, so you get sculpture, painting, 'fine art photography'.

It might be useful in this discussion to see 'art' and 'fine art' as interchangeable terms that, to all intents and purposes, mean the same thing; and then concentrate on the more crucial difference between "art" and "non-art" or, to put it another way, the difference between just 'taking pictures' and being (not just calling yourself) 'an artist'.

Personally, I wonder whether an image is art or not ultimately depends on the image itself, not a question of consensus (though it may overlap with consensus) and not about who made it in the first place (that person could be an artist one day, and a photographer taking pictures the next). There are loads of stories of now-famous artworks that went unrecognized in their own time - but the thing is we have those stories because we recognize them now...

Bringing this all back to our own pictures, what do you folks make of this? I took it yesterday lunch-time and am thinking of getting a 30*20" print done of it:

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/starling.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/2963)

PeterD
22nd February 2008, 01:16 PM
I think that your image is pleasing It is simple, without unnecessary clutter, the silhouette effect makes it bold and the birds provide good balance. Very well done.

PeterD

Xpres
22nd February 2008, 01:50 PM
thinking of getting a 30*20" print done of it:

It would make a good screen print... or another print process anyway. Has a Japanese feel about it for me.

crimbo
22nd February 2008, 02:11 PM
I had a look at you pics Chris and was very impressed - have yourself a yippee moment. :)

thanks...yippee:D

Hiding_Pup
22nd February 2008, 02:35 PM
Thanks, Peter, thanks, Xpres. There was more clutter on the right-hand side of the frame - another branch - but Photoshop is a good tree surgeon. Xpres, I've actually been thinking about alternative printing processes. Unfortunately, my printer-friend is out of the country, otherwise I'd go round to his house and experiment with some cotton- or silk-based papers. I'm a bit worried about the background though - which has just the faintest whiff of colour in it, as does the main subject - at 100% there are flecks of blue on the tree, and flecks of almost-black, metallic colour in the birds too. Cheers again for the feedback.

Ellie
22nd February 2008, 04:20 PM
I asked a similar question on the AP forum and it seems there are as many opinions and definitions as there are people willing to say their twopennorth.

Me? I have no assessed artistic training/learning past A-level. I won't stand in front of something and say it's good just because somebody else thinks I should. I won't feel belittled or intimidated because I don't like what an elitist intelligensia might call "Fine Art" and I certainly wouldn't travel up to London to see a crack in a floor, an unmade bed or a bag of rubbish. They're too much like the Emperor's New Clothes for me.

I don't know if it's true or not, but many of the current 'famous' artists seem to have caught the eye of the establishment at some point in their training, and a lot of the 'important' photographers were only able to pursue their art because they had private incomes that let them go off and have fun - and there was also a ready market amongst their peers. Who knows whether Cartier Bresson paid money for somebody to keep repeating an action until he got exactly the picture he wanted?

As for websites that sell "Fine Art" prints - Surely it's down to marketing, you can fool some of the people some of the time ... and take their money. ;)

I wonder if any picture that's worthy of being hung on a wall could/should be called "Fine Art" - because nobody will display something they don't like or that doesn't have some sort of meaning to them, unless they truly believe they should like something ghastly and are belittled into bowing to some sort of social or aspirational pressures.

Hiding_Pup
22nd February 2008, 04:43 PM
Cheers for your input, Ellie. I'm glad you won't be bullied into saying you like something, even if you don't - that's just the way it should be. We've already touched upon how the fine art "market' or "intelligentsia" as you put it, can and do make errors of judgment when it comes to assessing art. Personally, I think the motives of at least some of them are noble and that at least some of them are in the business because they love art, live and breathe it.

Surely there's an overlap between what is perceived to be art at any one moment, and what is art? You wouldn't go and see the crack in the floor, but presumably you'd quite like at least some of the art hanging on the walls of the Tate? I didn't feel the need to see the crack in the floor either, but I think I would have loved Louis Bourgeois's 30ft spider even if no-one else in the world liked it:

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/unilever.htm

I consider myself to be a reasonably proficient photographer but work like that spider, in my own mind, completely blows even my best work out of the water, dwarfs it completely, as do many pieces of art I admire. Now, I don't think I've been conditioned into thinking they're better - I think I know my own mind as far as that's concerned. So two questions remain for me: theoretically - what puts those works that I admire in a completely different league from my own; and - in practice - what do I need to do differently to at least begin to close that gap?

Zuiko
23rd February 2008, 11:51 PM
Cheers for your input, Ellie. I'm glad you won't be bullied into saying you like something, even if you don't - that's just the way it should be. We've already touched upon how the fine art "market' or "intelligentsia" as you put it, can and do make errors of judgment when it comes to assessing art. Personally, I think the motives of at least some of them are noble and that at least some of them are in the business because they love art, live and breathe it.

Surely there's an overlap between what is perceived to be art at any one moment, and what is art? You wouldn't go and see the crack in the floor, but presumably you'd quite like at least some of the art hanging on the walls of the Tate? I didn't feel the need to see the crack in the floor either, but I think I would have loved Louis Bourgeois's 30ft spider even if no-one else in the world liked it:

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/unilever.htm

I consider myself to be a reasonably proficient photographer but work like that spider, in my own mind, completely blows even my best work out of the water, dwarfs it completely, as do many pieces of art I admire. Now, I don't think I've been conditioned into thinking they're better - I think I know my own mind as far as that's concerned. So two questions remain for me: theoretically - what puts those works that I admire in a completely different league from my own; and - in practice - what do I need to do differently to at least begin to close that gap?

Hi HP,

Firstly, your starling picture I think does have those seemingly elusive qualities that determine which photographs qualify as art. Even as I look at it, it is hard to define why. Maybe it's the simple composition in which the arrangement of the birds echoes the structure of the branches, or the fact that the silhouette treatment removes the distractions of colour and texture and reduces the image simply to shape. it could almost be a pen and ink drawing. I'm sure you've done it yourself by now, but for the benefit of this thread I've taken the liberty of lightening the background to make it pure white and increasing the contrast to maintain the dark silhouettes of the birds.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/starling1.jpg

I can see this image working as art, either on a greeting card or as a print for the wall.

Regarding what you need to do to close the gap on the artists whom you admire, well that is the question to which the elusive answer holds the key. It might mean changing your style if, like mine, it's not condusive to creating art. But are you happy with your style and do you want to adapt or corrupt it? I'm not sure I want to alter mine. "Want" is the key word here, you've got to really want to step up a level if you are to have any hope of achieving it.

Yes, the answer to "what do you need to do differently" is elusive, but when you're ready I think you'll know.

Ellie
24th February 2008, 12:48 AM
One of the things I keep thinking about is how, historically, many 'famous' artists were actually quite wealthy in their own right and may initially have 'sold' their work to other wealthy people and therefore became popular or even elitist. I know it's quite a sweeping thing to say, because there were also plenty of artists who were very poor and whose work was not marketable in their lifetimes - but somehow their pictures ended up being worth a lot of money.

I think quite a lot of it is still clever marketing and knowing the right openings - and also having the courage to push your work into the right places to get the attention of those people who can make something popular (or exclusive).

How, for example, did Ansel Adams manage to get chosen to do the work in Yellowstone? If it hadn't been him would there be another name up there in lights? Would he still have been famous?

There's the other aspect of what is currently fashionable, and finding out who it is that decides what is the right thing to have on the wall. What is it that drives artistic fashion?

I've seen loads and loads of tripcychs lately, even single pictures of family groups that have been split into three to be fashionable. I can't see how images like that will stand the test of time, but who knows?

Errm, does all this make sense? :o

Ellie
25th February 2008, 09:41 PM
Oops :o I didn't mean to kill the discussion

Nick Temple-Fry
25th February 2008, 09:45 PM
Oops :o I didn't mean to kill the discussion

I think it died anyway, of natural causes, RIP

Nick

Zuiko
26th February 2008, 12:11 AM
I think it died anyway, of natural causes, RIP

Nick

I've found the discussion generated by this thread both interesting and thought provoking. I think we've failed to answer the elusive questions of what constitutes art, and how fine art is distinguished from just art, but that's no real surprise.

The personal conclusion I've arrived at is that I have a passion for the subject-driven type of photography that I do and I derive great pleasure from it. I don't feel that I want to change my style in order for my work to qualify as art, fine art, or whatever. True, there is serious money to be made if your work becomes accepted as fine art, but it's not money that motivates me to take photographs. Paramount to me is the ability to express my love for landscapes and nature through the medium of photography. If I sell a few pictures in the process, that's great, but more important to me is the satisfaction of making images that please me, regardless of whether they please anyone else. The big advantage of being an amateur is that I can afford to be self indulgent!

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
26th February 2008, 02:34 AM
Been away for a couple of days,. But I've learnt a lot from this thread, ultimately taking away the overwhelming feeling that great art isn't made by consensus. You take a deep breath, do your best, and, even then, it's a shot in the dark. I've been reading about and talking to lots of artists recently, and, on the subject of art, they all invariably turn inward, shutting out the expectations of the world, knowing that listening to what the market demands will almost certainly ensure their failure even before they've started.

All art is risky: I don't think anyone ever made great art by playing it safe, in terms of technique or composition or subject. No doubt many in forums all over the internet will continue to preach perfect histograms (as if there ever was such a thing!), rule of thirds, razor sharpness regardless of subject, zero-noise, and rehashes of photography enthusiast favourites (desolate-looking jetty over a still blue lake anyone? slightly tarty teenager hugging their own body and looking up into the camera in a moody way? "contemporary" family portraits against a sterile-white, wipe-dry background?)

But, in the same way that digital photographers don't benefit from the constant obsession about megapixel count and sensor size, perhaps we don't benefit from this kind of standardizing practice either. Given that we've already lost the variety that comes from us all having wildly different cameras, lenses and post-processing procedures, it seems a shame to standardize ourselves even further by doing our best to take identical pictures that follow the same rules. Doesn't it?

E-P1 fan
26th February 2008, 07:41 AM
What an intelligent thread this has been.

Having reflected - here's my personal thoughts - I have no doubt that many will throw snowballs at them. :)

It strikes me that good photography and art or Fine art are seperate things which are often conflated and thus confused.

1. Top quality photography is a craft - not an art. On a par with the output of a good cabinet maker. Accurate, inventive, full of quality......but essentially a learned skill developed to a high level.

2. Art is something else. It may or may not involve craft excellence. It comes from an irrational and often obsessive desire to express or 'reach' something 'beyond'

3. Fine Art is the internationally recognised Gold Standard for 'art' - proposed by and legitimised by an artistic elite - the opinion leaders -whose views are followed by the mass of society.

Therefore no artist or photographer can claim to be producing 'Art' or 'Fine Art' - (other than as an advertising tactic). That distinction needs to be awarded by the establishment elite and legitimised over time.

For a photographer to seek to become - a fine art photographer seems to me allied to the hopeless wish of the less intelligent teenager to become a 'celebrity' or 'famous'.

Photocracy
26th February 2008, 10:43 AM
...3. Fine Art is the internationally recognised Gold Standard for 'art' - proposed by and legitimised by an artistic elite - the opinion leaders -whose views are followed by the mass of society...

Only a tiny minority (the Saatchi's of this world) follow the Hirsts and Emins. The latter, at best, are making a statement, but they are hardly opinion leaders. Most look on and laugh at the 'emperor's clothes'. Are the masses or the minority missing the point? What is the apparently absent and artistic dimension to Emin's list of s**gs on a tent that most fail to appreciate?

Hiding_Pup
26th February 2008, 11:03 AM
Everything that requires any amount of expertise - and therefore effort - looks odd from the outside. People who run marathons look insane to people who never exercise, even if they're great athletes; photography enthusiasts look insane to people who just want a point-n-shoot camera for their holidays; ditto for those obsessed with cars, computers, race-horses, local politics...

So I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the masses that miss the point. Those who like art, Saatchi and his friends included, are in a minority - in the same way that those who know the MTF curves of their camera lenses are also in a minority - but it's undeniable that they love art and spend a lot of time thinking about it. And it's hardly like they admire a very narrow range of art: take a look at the Saatchi gallery website - you may not like some of the artists represented there, but you can hardly say they're all the same. The diversity is breathtaking.

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/

And here for just photography:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/photography/

And the pool of contemporary artists they explore all give up their lives for the sake of seeing if they can push the boundaries of art a little further, add to it change it according their vision. It's a formidably brave undertaking: throwing financial security, home comforts, career prospects, pension expectations to the wind takes real guts, even if you've got a bit more money than others I reckon.

I've just taken a look at the above link, just to make sure I remembered it right. There's a counter on the front page, telling you that they're the 282nd most visited website in the world: perhaps, then, the minority isn't as tiny as we thought...

E-P1 fan
26th February 2008, 11:17 AM
Rob. Like you I laugh at most of the 'emperors new clothes' aspect - but whatever I think of the art establishment, their motives or their usefulness, I do feel one can't deny the existence of a 'class' of style leaders, opinion formers, experts, publicists, hedge fund oligarchs - a whole capital city 'establishment' - mainly talking to each other I know - but nevertheless functioning loosely together as the opinion formers - who directly, therough the media, influence and inform the opinion of the majority.

In the art world - ultimately THEY decide what is currently 'high art'.

Leaving that aside for the moment semantics also comes into play.

Can Fine Art can also be interpreted as work which is:

a) NOT high art or great art

- but rather -

b) Superior artisanism

Discuss ;)

Ray Shotter
26th February 2008, 12:34 PM
Oops :o I didn't mean to kill the discussion

I don't think you did !!

Like many of you I have been reading the comments on this thread with interest. Mainly because I find many contributions from people who are claiming to be artists and whose works are frequently included in various prestigious artistic events often leave me wondering what the definition of "Art" is now-a-days.

My own subjective definition of a "Pictorial Artist" is relatively simple. First the "Pictorial Artist" must have the ability to compose an image which is pleasing to the eyes of those who look at it. Secondly, the image has to represent something which is understood or possibly familiar to the viewer. If colour is involved in presenting the image then the contrasting colours should be pleasing to the eyes of the viewer. Thirdly, some recognisable skill should be involved in the composition and execution of the image.

For example, artists who paint or sketch should have a good sense of colour balance and/or contrast. They must have the skill to sketch or draw images which are either lifelike or, if not lifelike, then striking in their caricature of lifelike images. Obvious examples of what I mean are Picasso, Monet, Joshua Reynolds, Raphael, Michelangelo etc...

I appreciate that my definition is not that of many people today; but I would add that the artists I am describing have proved their ability not just by the inflated prices which their work has attracted in recent years but by their ability to still attract the admiration of people many years after their death.

I have seen the work of several good artists who are still in the process of making names for themselves today but, strangely, they are not the ones which seem to attract attention from the Press and the Media.

However, whether or not "Photography" can be described as "Art" is still a problem for me. I have seen some lovely photographic images in the fifty plus years that I have been interested in Photography and a good photographer must have skill when composing the image and in choosing the colour balance or contrast balance; but there is no skill involved in drawing the image or sketching it as this is done beautifully by the camera and the lens.

A fascinating discussion but it seems unlikely that we will arrive at a consensus.

Ray.

Hiding_Pup
26th February 2008, 12:45 PM
Ah, but who said all those painters and sketchers drew free-hand and didn't use cameras of one sort or another?

See the bit about David Hockney's ideas here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_lucida

Zuiko
27th February 2008, 12:53 AM
Everything that requires any amount of expertise - and therefore effort - looks odd from the outside. People who run marathons look insane to people who never exercise, even if they're great athletes; photography enthusiasts look insane to people who just want a point-n-shoot camera for their holidays; ditto for those obsessed with cars, computers, race-horses, local politics...

So I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the masses that miss the point. Those who like art, Saatchi and his friends included, are in a minority - in the same way that those who know the MTF curves of their camera lenses are also in a minority - but it's undeniable that they love art and spend a lot of time thinking about it. And it's hardly like they admire a very narrow range of art: take a look at the Saatchi gallery website - you may not like some of the artists represented there, but you can hardly say they're all the same. The diversity is breathtaking.

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/

And here for just photography:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/photography/

And the pool of contemporary artists they explore all give up their lives for the sake of seeing if they can push the boundaries of art a little further, add to it change it according their vision. It's a formidably brave undertaking: throwing financial security, home comforts, career prospects, pension expectations to the wind takes real guts, even if you've got a bit more money than others I reckon.

I've just taken a look at the above link, just to make sure I remembered it right. There's a counter on the front page, telling you that they're the 282nd most visited website in the world: perhaps, then, the minority isn't as tiny as we thought...

Thanks for the links, I've just come from the Saatchi photography gallery, where I've spent most the evening exploring the works of the featured photographers.

I must admit, with a few notable exceptions the work of these photographers, who must be highly regarded to feature in such a prestigious gallery, left me unmoved and unimpressed. That is probably more of a reflection on me than it is of them, in the same sense that I can usually appreciate the difference between a £3.00 bottle of wine and a £5.00 bottle, but not between a £5.00 bottle and a £10.00 bottle. There's no doubt it is a better wine, but it's wasted on my crude and undeveloped palate. And so it is that the majority of art on this site is beyond the appreciation of my untrained and uncultured eye.

Dan Holdsworth is the main exception; I like all of his featured work. And I did appreciate the majority of Florian Maier-Aichen's pictures. The rest I considered were largely meaningless and unattractive. Boris Mikhailov's portfolio is, I conceed, a valuable documentary record of a certain section of society in post cold-war Russia, but art? I don't think so!

Ryan McGinley's work failed to please my eye, but some pictures did at least have me wondering, "how was it done?" Whether his work can lay claim to being fine art on the basis of creating an an enigma I'm not sure.

See what you make of these, is it obvious how they were done and, if not, does the visual puzzle qualify them as art?

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/Enigma_1.jpg


http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/Enigma_2.jpg

My personal view is that they may well be the creative result of an observant eye, but they lack the ellusive quality, which we have attempted to quantify in this thread, that would distinguish them as art. I would say the same about McGinley's work, but remember, I can't tell the difference between an average wine and a fine wine!

What I do know is that the deeper I explore the world of fine art photography, the more convinced I become that my work will never fall into that category. That's not to say I don't value my own work; if I didn't there would be little point in doing it. Quite the opposite, I like what I do and I'm not prepared to compromise it for the dubious benefit of being able to call it art.

That's not to say I'm closing the door on fine art photography, in fact I hope to learn to understand it and, dare I say it, appreciate it better over time. Nevertheless, I have no pretentions in that direction myself. Now, I'm off to open two bottles of wine with vastly different price tags. I can't guarantee that drinking them both will improve my understanding of art, but consumming that much alcohol is certain to qualify me as a rather different type of artist!

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
27th February 2008, 01:23 AM
Most of the evening? and you don't like them? I feel guilty for spending the evening curled up in front of Die Hard 2, which I very much enjoyed.

I thought Idris Khan was fantastic, especially this one:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/idris_khan_becher_gas.htm

I myself wondered about McGinley. I quite liked the naked people in the tree, but the "Holding Hands" picture didn't interest me at all and I thought it'd been done better by this guy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/arts/design/23geft.html

Still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and found his website where he amply demonstrates his talent as a highly innovative portraitist:

http://www.ryanmcginley.com/nytimes_oscars_images.php

Enjoy the wine! I have cold tea and - just now - an earth tremor.

Zuiko
27th February 2008, 01:29 AM
Most of the evening? and you don't like them? I feel guilty for spending the evening curled up in front of Die Hard 2, which I very much enjoyed.

I thought Idris Khan was fantastic, especially this one:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/idris_khan_becher_gas.htm

I myself wondered about McGinley. I quite liked the naked people in the tree, but the "Holding Hands" picture didn't interest me at all and I thought it'd been done better by this guy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/arts/design/23geft.html

Still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and found his website where he amply demonstrates his talent as a highly innovative portraitist:

http://www.ryanmcginley.com/nytimes_oscars_images.php

Enjoy the wine! I have cold tea and - just now - an earth tremor.

And so did we, down here in Essex. For a moment I thought it was the wine kicking in rather faster than normal!

Zuiko

Nick Temple-Fry
27th February 2008, 01:35 AM
I thought Idris Khan was fantastic, especially this one:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/idris_khan_becher_gas.htm

Enjoy the wine! I have cold tea and - just now - an earth tremor.

Hot tea for me, and the earth did move; which somehow makes the image in your quoted url appropriate - do you think he/she/it knows about IS or even tripods.

Nick

Zuiko
27th February 2008, 01:52 AM
Most of the evening? and you don't like them? I feel guilty for spending the evening curled up in front of Die Hard 2, which I very much enjoyed.

I thought Idris Khan was fantastic, especially this one:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/idris_khan_becher_gas.htm

I myself wondered about McGinley. I quite liked the naked people in the tree, but the "Holding Hands" picture didn't interest me at all and I thought it'd been done better by this guy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/arts/design/23geft.html

Still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and found his website where he amply demonstrates his talent as a highly innovative portraitist:
http://www.ryanmcginley.com/nytimes_oscars_images.php
Enjoy the wine! I have cold tea and - just now - an earth tremor.

Wow,

Maybe it's the wine, but I've just viewed McGinley's portrait of "Kate." IMO it's in a different class to his work in the Saatchi link and light years away from what I'm capable of producing. I have to say this image defines exactly what I would want a fine art portait to be. Would I hang it on my wall? You bet!

Thanks, the evening was not wasted after all!

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
27th February 2008, 12:43 PM
You did figure out there was a whole gallery of Kate pictures and not just the one, right? Little navigation arrows above the picture....

I'm beginning to wonder whether the art world gets a bad rep because of the hiccups - do newspaper editors publicize the strangest pieces, because they know their readers like feeling dismissive about it all?

I shall never understand public love-hate relationships. I understand 'Hello' magazine: you buy it because you like celebrities, see them as icons, and want to be a bit like them. But 'Heat'? Why spend money on a magazine that tells you how awful these people are?

Zuiko
27th February 2008, 10:22 PM
You did figure out there was a whole gallery of Kate pictures and not just the one, right? Little navigation arrows above the picture....

I'm beginning to wonder whether the art world gets a bad rep because of the hiccups - do newspaper editors publicize the strangest pieces, because they know their readers like feeling dismissive about it all?

I shall never understand public love-hate relationships. I understand 'Hello' magazine: you buy it because you like celebrities, see them as icons, and want to be a bit like them. But 'Heat'? Why spend money on a magazine that tells you how awful these people are?

Er, no - I missed the navigation arrows, thought you'd directed us to a one-off example! My computer skills stretch little further than being able to turn the damn thing on and I never cease to wonder how I manage to navigate a forum such as this!

The whole Kate series is exceptional, as are the other sets that I managed to locate this time around (last night's wine having finally left my system), although ironically the single Kate image that I saw last night is still my favourite.

I've now got a completely different regard for McGinley than the first impression formed from his examples in the Saatchi Gallery, in fact those images really need to be seen in the context of the set from which they were taken and when viewed as such make much more sense. That makes the selection for Saatchi all the more strange.

I'm not normally inspired or moved by portaits/people pictures, but McGinley undoubtably has a very creative, original and dynamic style, not just in concept and composition, but especially in lighting which seems to be a particular strength of his photography.

I would encourage anyone who has been following this thread and, like me, is unsure what qualifies as "fine art" but is curious to find out, to visit this link - I don't think you will be disappointed.

I'm afraid I share Nick's opinion of Idris Khan, though. The example HP recommended leaves me unimpressed and at a loss to understand it's relevance. Maybe I'm missing something - does anyone have a different view?

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
28th February 2008, 01:45 AM
Regarding the Khan picture, I like the artist's sketchiness of it - it could almost be done in pencil. In fact, how is it done? I must admit, though, I have a soft-spot for spherical structures (I hesitate to say balls). I liked the alien-feel to it, which reminded me instantly of this:

http://www.armchairempire.com/images/Reviews/XBox/star-wars-clone-wars/star-wars-clone-wars-2.jpg
Context here: http://tinyurl.com/33od2q

The image also reminded me of Michel Wesely's four year-long exposures of Manhattan building sites:

http://mkaz.com/photo/books/wesely_openshutter.html

http://www.notes.co.il/ali/user/Michael%20Wesely%20-%20MoMA.jpg (http://www.notes.co.il/ali/user/Michael%20Wesely%20-%20MoMA.jpg)

http://wildyears.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/wesely.jpg

E-P1 fan
28th February 2008, 08:06 AM
Sorry to draw the debate away from a dicussion more about specific content in specific images. Very interesting and intriguing though this is and with some really good images to ponder.

Dragging things back to the 'what is' bit of the debate - settle down in the corner there - :) - it struck me this morning that, as with the acquisition of Premiership football clubs, the main 'drivers' of the art market are scarcity - supply and demand - and the potential profit - not of the club itself (or the work of 'art') - but the spin at auction as a result of scarcity. After all there's not going to be any more Rubens or Seurat's - unless someone finds the odd sketch once in 100 years - so is HIGH art, the art that is unassailable, ie whose reputation is never going to be questioned, and whose scarcity makes it a dead cert for investment? So like a premiership football club or an NFL or NBA franchise, it's worth money to an investor - even if they are a disgraced and allegedly corrupt leader of a South East Asian country and the target for investment growth is a premiership club in the doldrums in Northern England?

Does the scale go something like:-

Outstanding, intruiging and challenging imagery - which gains widespread respect - becomes collectable as a short-term risk only - holds up as an 'taking a punt' investment - graduates to medium-term solidity as an longer term proven growth investment - goes stellar when the creator is demised and the supply stops - and whose price is bid up in the world auction? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7268199.stm

Sometimes it feels that people too concerned with the actual 'art' itself, ie; us, are too close to things. Rather like two coal miners, three miles down, comparing lumps of coal and saying that theirs is better, or will attract a premium on the surface. While the mine owner and the investor count their ill gotten gains in their mansions far away and with completely clean smooth hands :)

Hiding_Pup
28th February 2008, 09:18 AM
Sorry, don't know enough about football to understand your comment about "a disgraced and allegedly corrupt leader of a South East Asian country".

Clearly, there's a market governed by supply and demand that applies to the art world as it does everything else, but to reduce art to this ignores, as I mention above, a.) those collectors who genuinely like art and b.) the artists themselves. Unless, of course, you're suggesting that the artists, too, are like us, a little too naive, a little too 'close' to the idea of art as art rather than commodity.

Also, your idea of art as money-making scam devised by smooth-handed people in auctions doesn't account for acts of generosity like this:

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/news/story/0,,2260358,00.html

ianc
28th February 2008, 10:00 AM
I think both of you have a point. There is no doubt that there are those who only collect as an investment and don't have any real love of art but I would say that most collectors buy what they like. The vast majority of art purchased is bought by ordinary people who buy art because it gives them pleasure. There is far more art sold in small galleries for a few hundred pounds than the headline grabbing million pound sales. The vast majority of artists, no matter how good they are never come to widespread public attention. The art market is not a meritocracy. Having said that the artists I have met don't bother about such things, they are producing the work they want to and if they can do so and make a living that's great.

So yes there is a small part of the art market that is about supply and demand and investment but it is a tiny part of the market. The problem is because it is the part of the market that grabs the headlines people often think that it's all of the market rather than a tiny part of it.

Ian C.

Xpres
28th February 2008, 10:22 AM
So yes there is a small part of the art market that is about supply and demand and investment but it is a tiny part of the market. The problem is because it is the part of the market that grabs the headlines people often think that it's all of the market rather than a tiny part of it.

Isn't that the point of the thread? What makes something 'fine art'.

artists, too, are like us, a little too naive, a little too 'close' to the idea of art as art rather than commodity.

Once the 'work' is done isn't the artist just another consumer of the art like the rest of us? Whatever his thought or intentions and pretensions to fine art maybe they only have equal weight with the thoughts of the rest of us, which may indeed be naive.

E-P1 fan
28th February 2008, 10:43 AM
I think both of you have a point. There is no doubt that there are those who only collect as an investment and don't have any real love of art but I would say that most collectors buy what they like. The vast majority of art purchased is bought by ordinary people who buy art because it gives them pleasure. There is far more art sold in small galleries for a few hundred pounds than the headline grabbing million pound sales. The vast majority of artists, no matter how good they are never come to widespread public attention. The art market is not a meritocracy. Having said that the artists I have met don't bother about such things, they are producing the work they want to and if they can do so and make a living that's great.

So yes there is a small part of the art market that is about supply and demand and investment but it is a tiny part of the market. The problem is because it is the part of the market that grabs the headlines people often think that it's all of the market rather than a tiny part of it.

Ian C.
What a great thread this is.

This is good Ian. It is all about levels then. My local gallery sells original art - prices averaging a few hundreds pounds per work. There's also a favourite gallery of ours in Devon - a husband and wife team of artists (lovely people) who sell their own paintings. We LOVE what they do and feel they really capture the sense of the area. So we've bought two of their works and proudly have them hanging in our lounge. But we bought them because we loved them NOT for any form of resale.

So ultimately is it all just - art is what you want it to be for YOU and if people agree with you fine..it's unlikely but the value might increase through supply and demand - so buy what you like Is it really that simple?

-------------------------------------------------
HP sorry about the football analogy. The deposed leader of Thailand recently bought Manchester City while in exile. I think he went back today too :) I wanted to emphasise the commodity and scarcity elements of the debate.
-------------------------------------------------

I do get the feeling we are all walking round the same object in this virtual gallery - viewing the piece from different angles and perspectives. Not surprising them that we are commenting on different aspects of the same work, differing facets of a unified whole rather than contradictions.

--------------------------------------------------

ianc
28th February 2008, 11:39 AM
Isn't that the point of the thread? What makes something 'fine art'.



Once the 'work' is done isn't the artist just another consumer of the art like the rest of us? Whatever his thought or intentions and pretensions to fine art maybe they only have equal weight with the thoughts of the rest of us, which may indeed be naive.

My point is that the art market is not a meritocracy just because one piece of art sells for a higher price doesn't necessarily make it a better piece of art.

Ian C.

Hiding_Pup
29th February 2008, 02:27 PM
Without any disrespect to your local gallery, E-1 fan, I reckon that most art comes under David Bailey's idea 'illustrations and pictures': look great on the living room wall but very little else. No-one has really commented on the link to the D'Offay story that I posted above so far but I think it casts light on the difference between illustration/pictures and art. D'Offay is an ambitious collector and a good one to. If he'd been doing it as an investment, he'd sell to the highest bidder. But he's not: he, like others, actually believes in art. Presumably, he's enjoyed owning the art he enjoys most. So, why is he selling the entire collection back to the British cost at the original price he bought it for?

"It's really to do with education for young people. Outside London and Edinburgh it is very difficult to see great contemporary art. I was born in Sheffield and brought up in Leicester and I was very conscious that what I could see in museums was 18th century portraits, Egyptian mummies and stuffed animals.

"Art is important because it stimulates young people's creativity. If you see great art it makes you ask questions and if you ask questions it makes you seek answers. It's always been in my mind that this is something I wanted to do."
(http://tinyurl.com/2g3yuj)

E-P1 fan
29th February 2008, 02:49 PM
Without any disrespect to your local gallery, E-1 fan, I reckon that most art comes under David Bailey's idea 'illustrations and pictures': look great on the living room wall but very little else.

But D'Offay is the exception that proves the rule surely?

OK on the rest - The 'art' we bought, was bought for our own reasons - not because some guru said 'it's good' or that its value would accrue. Of course it's not recognised high art. It's just art - the product of someones skill with brushes - just like our pics are art - the product of our skill/or not with dslrs. The monetary value of our paintings is probably zero. But to us they are very valuable. They aren't seeking to 'say' anything other than to evoke a particular place and they do that superbly well. The artist loves the place, so do we. He has conveyed that place to us 100 times better in paint than any mechanical photograph can. As for what the art establishment would say about them - probably they'd dismiss them as unimportant, worthless pieces of local primitive art. Doesn't bother us though. The ART we bought fulfills its function for us beautifully.

So once again we get back to the footings of this particular edifice: - its more about markets, money, profit, business, supply and demand, media and the meek and often unquestioning acceptance (there's those clothes again) by a largely ignorant aspirant upper slice of society desperate to be recognised as one of the elite.

Bang! :D

Hiding_Pup
29th February 2008, 03:25 PM
I'm really glad you like the paintings you bought! (You sure it's art and not illustration?)

Now I do intend to put you on the spot: you've made reference to the idea a few times now but exactly where's your evidence that the art market is in fact driven by "a largely ignorant aspirant upper slice of society desperate to be recognised as one of the elite"?

E-P1 fan
29th February 2008, 03:54 PM
I'm really glad you like the paintings you bought! (You sure it's art and not illustration?)

Tell me the difference and I'll give you an answer :)


Now I do intend to put you on the spot: you've made reference to the idea a few times now but exactly where's your evidence that the art market is in fact driven by "a largely ignorant aspirant upper slice of society desperate to be recognised as one of the elite"?

Hmmn not exactly the type of thing you can cite statistical or scientific evidence for really. I could trawl the internet and come up with several hundred links to articles, news items, quotes etc. but I'm not going to spend my weekend doing that.

So you'll need to be content with the idea that a lot of people, of whom I am one, see society in this way. We used to be called socialists - god knows what we'd be called today - apart from disillusioned. :rolleyes:

Hiding_Pup
29th February 2008, 04:18 PM
I was beginning to suspect that, beneath all that unsupported conjecture there was ... a card-carrying socialist! :eek:

Does this mean that in a socialist utopia, there'd be no art at all?

You've still not commented on D'Offay: is he mistaken for thinking that art can even be successfully shared with northerners/young people/others from socially deprived backgrounds? is he wrong that great art makes you ask yourself great questions? Presumably, if art was merely a recreational indulgence for the suburban bourgeoisie, it'd be quite comfortable and not at all probing? Something that didn't ask too many questions, but just hung there looking pretty; something like, say, a painted landscape bought in a local gallery that catered passing tourists and matched the walls at home ;)

Xpres
29th February 2008, 06:21 PM
there was ... a card-carrying socialist!

Oh no! :eek: I wondered when someone would bring in politics. Another passion that can be as strong as art and often well and truly woven in with it, so I suppose not to be excluded here.

There's no denying D'Offay has done a great thing, but then he can afford it. Just as many before him have been able to do.

E-P1 fan
29th February 2008, 09:48 PM
You missed the tongue in cheek nature of my post HP - shame on you :)

I was beginning to suspect that, beneath all that unsupported conjecture there was ... a card-carrying socialist! :eek:

SO wrong. I'm not a card carrying anything. I hope I'm an intelligent observer of the political realities of Britain though.

Does this mean that in a socialist utopia, there'd be no art at all?

Well there's been some great Socialist art all over the world - but no socialist utopia so I suppose the answer's no ;)

You've still not commented on D'Offay: is he mistaken for thinking that art can even be successfully shared with northerners/young people/others from socially deprived backgrounds? is he wrong that great art makes you ask yourself great questions? Presumably, if art was merely a recreational indulgence for the suburban bourgeoisie, it'd be quite comfortable and not at all probing? Something that didn't ask too many questions, but just hung there looking pretty; something like, say, a painted landscape bought in a local gallery that catered passing tourists and matched the walls at home ;)

Very laudable aims I suppose - bringing art to the masses - trouble is they'd rather look at prints of Jordan or Britney from what I see. He sounds a bit of a champagne socialist if you ask me. Is he a rich Fabian? :)

Oh and we changed the walls to fit the paintings.

OK tell me where Tretchikoff fits in to your ideas?

E-P1 fan
29th February 2008, 09:48 PM
Oh no! :eek: I wondered when someone would bring in politics. Another passion that can be as strong as art and often well and truly woven in with it, so I suppose not to be excluded here.

See above :)

Hiding_Pup
1st March 2008, 01:23 AM
You missed the tongue in cheek nature of my post HP - shame on you :)

No, I didn't miss it - just chose to ignore it because I thought it'd be more interesting that way :-)

So, let me get this right - if you have money and like art, you're an elitist snob; if you don't have money and like art, you're aspirational and hopelessly bourgeois; if you have money, like art, and decide to share it with others who have no money, you're a champagne socialist. So, what's so laudable about having no money and not liking art at the same time? And why would someone who thought this was a good position take up photography?

E-P1 fan
1st March 2008, 09:15 AM
Your'e very good at putting your words into someone else's mouth HP :)

Now we mustn't monopolise this thread must we......:D

Have a good weekend :)

Zuiko
1st March 2008, 11:31 PM
We've certainly not found it easy to quantify what is or isn't art, but maybe we're approaching this question from the wrong angle. Maybe art is defined not from the end result but by the reason for producing it.

Say a hitherto unrecognised artist is truely inspired and produces a work of outstanding vision, bourne out of his passion for the subject and his creative hunger to relate that subject to his emotional response to it. Pure of motive, highly original and beautifully interpreting the subject to express his very soul, it is without question a piece of the utmost quality, representing "fine art" at the highest level. It earns him recognition, fame and a lucrative future, if he can continue to produce work of that standard.

At first he succeeds, his vision, creativity and emotional energy having taken a quantum leap. Eventually, though, he subconsiously starts working to a formular, producing pieces that satisfy public demand rather than his creative hunger. In time, his work, though very proficient, can no longer be regarded as art in the purest sense and he is no longer an artist. A very talented and skilled craftsman, yes, but not an artist.

Meanwhile, a three year old child is captivated, enthralled, thrilled, enraptured and filled with adoration for the pet kitten her parents have bought. She has no concept of art, but instinctively reaches for her crayons and a discarded envelope. On the back of that envelope her clumsy style produces an uncertain and disproportionate shape in the bold, simplistic style of a child. It bears little resemblence to the kitten but more to the blurr of energy that is her impression of it. She is not motivated by recognition or reward, just an instinctive desire to express her emotions and impressions of that cat. That is art in it's purest form.

Her Daddy comes home, sees her picture and, full of pride, attaches it to the fridge door with a magnet.

That's "Fine Art!"

Zuiko

Nivek
6th March 2008, 06:12 PM
What is a Fine-Art Image?



Well to me a fine-art image is an image I have created to my fullest capability. Not any old picture maybe taken at a party. But, for example, a fine landscape where I have spent time looking and waiting for the right moment in time; when the sun and clouds are creating perfect shadows across the land. When I see exactly what I want in the image, I take the picture.



I then take the picture home and spend a great deal of time with it creating my image.



I then use the finest pigment inks and acid free art paper to print the image creating that wow factor that says 'I want'.



That to me is a fine-art image.



When I was learning photography my tutor told me 'a fine art print is a print specially printed by a professional to exacting standards'. But what would he know he was teaching photography not fine-art photography.

E-P1 fan
10th April 2008, 06:14 PM
Is this fine art photography in action?

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=558332&in_page_id=1770

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=231771&command=displayContent&sourceNode=231773&contentPK=20360340&folderPk=108571&pNodeId=231887

:eek:

Ellie
10th April 2008, 10:01 PM
:rolleyes: http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/laugh.gif

Nivek
11th April 2008, 06:17 AM
E-1.

I can't see what this story has to do with fine art photography at all and cant to see the relevance of it within this post, maybe someone could tell me because I'm lost here.

There will always be pervs of all kinds within photography and lets hope they get found out and dealt with but I can’t see what it has to do with fine art photography.

Kevin.

Hiding_Pup
11th April 2008, 08:31 AM
What Nivek said - I'm just feeling rather sorry for the poor girl who was the victim in all this.

knikki
17th April 2008, 12:40 PM
Hey Zuiko have you discovered what "Fine Art" is?

This is an interesting thread and kind of wonders all over the place :cool:

I think that photography can be fine art simple because of the effort some people put into making their images.

http://www.lorettalux.de/

Here is someone who has put an awful lot of time and effort into making thses images and while they may be classed as 'portraiture' I feel they go far beyond that. Or even Sally Mann who still uses 'wet collodion' to make picture of her family.

It seems that the 'art market' is driven my investors looking to gain maxium returns, which is fine if they want to do that. But it seems if you want to achieve this status then you either have to do some thing controversal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ or be no longer living ala Andy Warhol.

As for some of the links in this thread, many are fab others are *shrug.
Oh and as a side note I think multiple exposure images of Idris Khan are great.

E-P1 fan
17th April 2008, 09:29 PM
E-1.

I can't see what this story has to do with fine art photography at all and cant to see the relevance of it within this post, maybe someone could tell me because I'm lost here. Kevin.

Hmnn

Sorry to offend. I thought it was actually quite relevant and might offset some of the comments on the subject. It seemed to bring into focus for me at least the whole art and reality topic.

Just another way of looking at things maybe? *upsided

Ellie
18th April 2008, 02:15 PM
This is an interesting thread and kind of wonders all over the place
That's the best sort of thread, surely? Makes it all much more interesting :)

Sorry to offend. I thought it was actually quite relevant and might offset some of the comments on the subject. It seemed to bring into focus for me at least the whole art and reality topic.

Just another way of looking at things maybe? *upsided
I probably offended as much by using smileys in my response to it, but that's all I thought of saying at the time.

I've got another question though. If I wanted to do a "Fine Art" degree I could do one at, for example, Norwich School of Art and Design (http://www.nsad.ac.uk/courses/bafineart.php). It says this ..
Although a diversity of approaches within fine art is recognised, the course aims to develop a student's technical ability and conceptual framework from within four subject areas: New Media, Sculpture, Painting and Printmaking & Photo Media.

So, if I've got a Fine Art Degree would my work automatically be called "Fine Art"?

ewan
18th April 2008, 07:46 PM
So, if I've got a Fine Art Degree would my work automatically be called "Fine Art"?
__________________
I think that this would depend on the nature of the work itself, ie the 'conceptual framework' and the means of expression ['from within four subject areas']. In terms of photography, the concept behind the choice of imagery [subject matter] and its presentation.

Zuiko
19th April 2008, 12:45 AM
[QUOTE=Ellie;

So, if I've got a Fine Art Degree would my work automatically be called "Fine Art"? QUOTE]

Well, it would give you a head start, a certain amount of credence - but you've still got to produce work worthy of the label "Fine Art." And there lies the rub, how do you quantify Fine Art when it means all things to all people? Let's face it, one man's Fine Art might be another man's Trash Cart.

And Knikki, I still haven't found a definitive answer to what constitutes Fine Art, but that is probably impossible and the best I can come up with is a partial answer.

I believe a piece of work becomes Fine Art the moment someone other than the artist first recognises it to be so. That person may be the only one ever to consider that particular piece to be Fine Art and therefore it will never be more than Fine Art in a very niche way. (Can "niche" be used as an adjective, or have I just corrupted the English Language yet again?) A more realistic niche will consist of a significant but relatively small number of admirers.

When a piece of art becomes almost universally acclaimed and becomes appreciated by a wider audience than elitist art circles then it enters the realm of mainstream, or popular, Fine Art. However, to a small minority it may still fail to tick the necessary boxes to be regarded by them as Fine Art.

Unresolved as yet is the question, "Is the artist entitled to decide whether or not their work qualifies as Fine Art?" I think not, because it is impossible to be totally objective about your own work, but that in no way prevents you from being entitled to like what you do and feel proud of it.

I think the conclusion is that Art, like Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Zuiko

Ellie
19th April 2008, 05:42 PM
I think the conclusion is that Art, like Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
I think you're right, really. :)

ewan
19th April 2008, 08:32 PM
I'll go along with that Zuiko, well summed up.

Hiding_Pup
20th April 2008, 01:59 PM
But some people's eyes are better than others?

Graham_of_Rainham
20th April 2008, 03:48 PM
In here lies the answer :confused:

http://www.artphotogallery.org/02/index.html

Or does it ?

Zuiko
20th April 2008, 08:41 PM
But some people's eyes are better than others?

True, some people are more educated, cultured and familiar with the world of fine art than others. But surely all are entitled to an opinion, if they wish to have one, on what deserves to be classed as fine art.

Of course, some people's opinions will always be valued more than others due to their recognised expertise in the world of art and they may even become opinion leaders themselves. That doesn't preclude the uninformed art lover from having an opinion or make his opinion less valid. In fact at least his opinion will be honest, even though it may be based on emotion rather than on reasoning, with no danger of it being pretentious or corrupted by "Emperor's Clothes Syndrome."

John

Hiding_Pup
20th April 2008, 09:09 PM
Also true - that said, I've met plenty of people who think that any - every - picture they've taken that's well-exposed and in focus is briliant. And if there's a smattering of Rule of Thirds methodology in there then so much the better. Not "Emperor's New Clothes" but "I made this" syndrome? Some art is a fake, to be sure, but sometimes the people who are most taken in are the artists themselves.

shenstone
20th April 2008, 09:11 PM
In here lies the answer :confused:

http://www.artphotogallery.org/02/index.html

Or does it ?

Yes and No ...

IMHO Many WONDERFUL pictures, some ordinary ( even I could have taken and I claim NO artistic abilities at all - I know how to take a technically correct picture ( although I often fail to) and that's about it

Thanks for the link through there is interest and inspiration there

Regards
Andy

shenstone
20th April 2008, 09:16 PM
True, some people are more educated, cultured and familiar with the world of fine art than others. But surely all are entitled to an opinion, if they wish to have one, on what deserves to be classed as fine art.

Of course, some people's opinions will always be valued more than others due to their recognised expertise in the world of art and they may even become opinion leaders themselves. That doesn't preclude the uninformed art lover from having an opinion or make his opinion less valid. In fact at least his opinion will be honest, even though it may be based on emotion rather than on reasoning, with no danger of it being pretentious or corrupted by "Emperor's Clothes Syndrome."

John


In your first sentance lies the problem. Being familiar with the world of fine art does not necesarily make you educated - it can make you too close and too "inbred" to be able to say just how bad that somthing is.

I recently went to a gallery in Cardiff where I saw some truly awful works for sale at high prices. I doubt that the artist had even been to the places that they were apparently depicting. As it happened I was in the company of some truly exceptional artists, but I felt that they were too nervous about saying what they really felt (well at least until I got some red wine in them later).

Regards
Andy

Hiding_Pup
20th April 2008, 09:31 PM
Presumably, your artist-friends were familiar with the world of art? John's statement still applies?

Zuiko
20th April 2008, 10:15 PM
Also true - that said, I've met plenty of people who think that any - every - picture they've taken that's well-exposed and in focus is briliant. And if there's a smattering of Rule of Thirds methodology in there then so much the better. Not "Emperor's New Clothes" but "I made this" syndrome? Some art is a fake, to be sure, but sometimes the people who are most taken in are the artists themselves.

Ah, I see where you are comming from, HP. Self delusion is common with artists and particularly photographers. Being able to view your own work objectively and critically is one of the hardest skills to learn.

With some of my own work I'm not sure if it's any good or, if it is, how good. That's why, in a previous post, I said that the artist himself is probably not entitled to judge whether or not his own work qualifies as fine art, but he is entitled, if he likes what he's done, to feel proud of it. That, of course, doesn't mean it's any good!

With landscapes I'm probably sufficiently experienced and knowledgeable to know when I've got something good. In fact, I do tend to err on the side of perhaps being a little harsh when judging my own work and sometimes others have been surprised at trannies I've discarded.

From pictures I've had published I feel entitled to think that a fair bit of my landscape work is very good, maybe even excellent on rare occasions, but it is not exceptional and I stop short of thinking that any of it qualifies as Fine Art. For that to happen I feel I need to get to the next level, and I've been feeling that for many years now!:( My work may be good but it's reached a plateau and I feel it still needs that little something extra, call it inspiration, to lift it from the competent to the extraordinary. At my time in life I now accept that I will probably never achieve that. The dream is over!

I think it is important for any of us as photographers to allow ourselves to acknowledge how far we have come, but even more important to recognise how far we still have to go! And more important still, enjoy what we do and leave worrying about whether or not our work is art for others to decide. :)

John

arbib
20th April 2008, 10:55 PM
To me, "Fine Art" is in any medium where there are several things in play...

1) Technique (1st thing we learn)
2) Balance (2nd thing we learn)
3) Emotionally and visually "Pulls" you in to mental thoughts of moral consciousness of life itself... (3rd thing we stive to express after 1 & 2 are mastered)

(Wow...did I just say that??) :D

#3 being the hardest to master...But when you do...You will be a "Master" in photography...Ansel Adams was a master in technical and balance ..but few of his photos had "Great" emotional impact (for me), other than a "Wowing" impact of a great landscape. (btw...I do like Adam's photo's..and consider him a great technical innovator for his time. He contributed much to the photographic knowledge base for sure).

Great topic btw

jeremyc
20th April 2008, 10:55 PM
Sorry if I'm treading ground already covered in this long thread, but...

Collins Compact Dictionary: "Fine art n 1 art produced chiefly to appeal to the sense of beauty, 2 any of the fields in which such art is produced, such as painting, sculpture and engraving".

It's a technical, categorising term in art criticism and not to be confused with "good art", "art I like" etc... etc...

Of course, this leaves open the question of whose "sense of beauty" is concerned. The answer to that question is "the artist's". It is the artist's intent that makes it "fine art", and not all artists produce art "chiefly to appeal to a sense of beauty"; indeed many artists reject fine art as a nostalgic, bourgeois obsession with niceness. It could even be argued that for most serious artists these days, their art is about rejecting notions that art is about beauty. Calling it "fine art" would upset them terrribly!

So "fine art" in photography does not equal "good" photographs, but photographs produced chiefly to appeal to a sense of beauty.

shenstone
20th April 2008, 11:06 PM
Presumably, your artist-friends were familiar with the world of art? John's statement still applies?

FYI They included a number of commercially and critically sucessful fine artists.

Also please in future feel free to take a pop at me, but not others by inference it belittles you and this thread.

I claim no ability, but have an opinion. You don't like it because it doesn't fall in line with yours then ... tough that's what free speech is about.

Zuiko
21st April 2008, 08:44 PM
FYI They included a number of commercially and critically sucessful fine artists.

Also please in future feel free to take a pop at me, but not others by inference it belittles you and this thread.

I claim no ability, but have an opinion. You don't like it because it doesn't fall in line with yours then ... tough that's what free speech is about.

Ermm, maybe I'm wrong but my interpretation of HP's remark was that your artist friends, by the nature of what they do, are themselves in the category of being "educated, cultured and familiar with the world of Fine Art." And yet this did not prevent them from seeing how bad the "Fine Art" was at the gallery in Cardiff, therefore the validity of my first sentence still stands.

That's how I interpreted it and therefore didn't think it was taking a pop at your friends, in fact quite the reverse.

However, please feel free to come back at me if you feel I'm still missing the point. And perhaps HP can clarify?

John

Hiding_Pup
27th April 2008, 09:47 AM
Apologies if you took offence, Andy - but I just meant what John's said in the above post.

But this all leads me onto my next thought: if the greatness of a work of art relies on an individual's reponse to it, and if popularity doesn't necessarily indicate great art, then what, exactly, is being judged in photography competitions that decide on a winner by public vote?

Zuiko
28th April 2008, 12:47 AM
Apologies if you took offence, Andy - but I just meant what John's said in the above post.

But this all leads me onto my next thought: if the greatness of a work of art relies on an individual's reponse to it, and if popularity doesn't necessarily indicate great art, then what, exactly, is being judged in photography competitions that decide on a winner by public vote?

In this context, simple. What's being judged is contemporary popular taste, which isn't necessarily good art or good photography, but it is art and it is photography. It's more to do with current trends and fashion, which may well result in Fine Art, but often does not. The best test is the test of time.

John