Potential Artistry in Photographs

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Potential Artistry in Photographs


Published on before 2005

Letter by David George (3/5/2013) and response by ARC Chairman, Fred Ross (3/8/2013)

David George wrote:

Congratulations on your website. I have just discovered the ARC and read through the philosophy and Q & A section on philosophy. At last someone who agrees with me that much of the modern art is junk! Thank you for assuring me that I'm not crazy.

I am an aspiring artist and have strong opinions. Even at that, I found only one minor point with which I would disagree. In the Q & A section regarding photography you wrote:

No. My position is that photography, which can indeed be a wonderful and excellent thing, is not actually an art form per se. A photographer can be more accurately said to "document" something by showing the audience exactly what was there (when well done, he does this using some of the same techniques that an artist might such as composition, selecting contrast levels, etc.) rather than recreating what was there in light of an expressive goal which allows a great deal of freedom to adjust what is there and how it looks which is unavailable to the photographer. That being the case, since the goals of a photographer and an artist are different (one being to document what is there and the other to express an idea effectively) they should be judged by different standards. I hate to repeat myself, but my position on this seems to be consistently misunderstood. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with photography. Photography is a wonderful thing. It's just not the same kind of thing as art is, that's all.

I find this only mostly true. You state "...the goal of an artist and a photographer are different..." That is not necessarily the case. Though photography is often used to document reality, photography can be a medium, or tool for the artist to use. Photographers today have a great variety of computerized manipulations available that make photography a medium. In addition, I would say that the artist who carefully composes a setting is doing art work, and may use photography as a tool for capturing the image of the artwork.

It is so wonderful to express these thoughts and expect that my reason will not be shut down or ignored just because it disagrees in some respect with your statements. After reading your reasoned statements in the philosophy section, I actually think I might be heard.

Best Regards, David George (The Gerontificator)

Fred Ross wrote:

Dear David,

Thank you for your kind and supportive letter.

Concerning your comments on photography....
While I'm not nearly as familiar with all of the tools used or available to use by which photographs can be manipulated, to the degree to which it is possible to create original and meaningful imagery with such tools, I would have to agree with you and perhaps should refine that description of the potential artistry that is possible in photographs.

Suffice it to say here that I've yet to see photographs in which the finished products due to such manipulations have been created which can compete with the beauty, expressiveness and poetic power found in the greatest works of fine art that exist in painting, sculpture and drawing. However, I would hope that I would be open to re-evaluating that comment when an if great artistic photographs are produced which do achieve poetic beauty successful at a similar level.

Fred Ross
Chairman,ARC (Art Renewal Center)
President, Bouguereau Committee