Saturday, October 29, 2005

Market trends: Vintage, Shmintage

Frank Van Riper writing in the Washington Post and discussing digital influences in todays's photography market with Washington DC dealer George Hemphill.

Quoting from Hemphill and Van Riper's article:

"Computer-generated Iris and Epson prints, even in signed limited editions such as we (Hemphill) produce, may always be viewed in the higher echelons of the fine art photography market as just that: computer-generated, as opposed to hand-made. I remember, for example, respected New York photography dealer John Stevenson conceding to me that, while beautifully done black and white Iris prints of our Venice work surely can approach -- or even rival at times -- one-of-a-kind platinum/palladium prints, "my clients won't touch them." Why? Largely because Iris prints are produced with the push of a button, and not by a master printer working alone in the dark."

George Hemphill notes that the emergence of large scale photographic work co-exists with the growing influence of design in the artistic preferences of the consumer. "It is surface design that rules the world," he declared, whether it be the curve of a toilet brush bought at Target or the high-tech sheen of a state-of the-art cell phone.

Bottom line: issues of usefulness being equal, "people will pay more money for more pleasing design."

"You want to know how hot photography is? Photography's so hot that people who call themselves photographers, who have minimum skills and crappy equipment and nothing in common [with real photographers], can get shows in Chelsea in one gallery after another."

Well aside from having any shows in Chelsea, I resemble that last remark. Give me something other than photographer to call myself and I'd be happy to do so.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lowbrow Art

From the LA Weekly, Doug Harvey on the rise of Lowbrow and how "outlaw" art went mainstream.

"Ironically, the Nazi-era influx of Surrealists and other European progressive/modernist exiles into American cultural centers derailed the highly illustrative art traditions of Regionalism and the Ashcan school, and the legitimacy of accomplished figurative masters like Edward Hopper, Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton — whose work disrupted the alienating class elitism of the art establishment by appealing to the sensibilities of the average American.

In this sense, Lowbrow can be said to have a legitimate claim to the true lineage of modern American art. By reconnecting with pictorialist and figurative traditions despised as kitsch by the art-critical school of Clement Greenberg, opening their visual vocabulary to the most unironically inclusive array of pop-cultural iconography, and embracing the marketplace potentials of Generation eBay, Lowbrow has managed to create what the art world never has — a mass consumer base for art."

I feel a certain kinship to anything that is anti-Greenberg so this is a good thing. I may re-read Tom Wolfe's "The painted word" to reinvigorate my contempt.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Read a book

Alyson B. Stanfield's "Do This!', an art marketing newsletter suggests celebrating with a book

"You belong to a proud creative tradition. Your artistic heritage is
something you should embrace and be inspired by. And, yet, I find many artists who are oblivious to what has come before them. If you're serious about your career, you'll be curious enough to explore the art and art of times past and the larger artworld.

To celebrate Arts & Humanities Month, I challenge you to read an artist's biography (or similar genre)."

Alsyon recommends a number of books and "How to Draw a Bunny," a documentary about the life of Ray Johnson." I concur that "How to draw a bunny" is well worth the time. Johnson was quite a character.

Although not about the visual arts, I'd recommend Dylan's Chronicles and Goya by Robert Hughes.

Gallery Hopper posts a reading list on photography which is also worth a look.

What do you recommend?

Monday, October 24, 2005

The 'P' word

From a recent article by Shamik Bag from Kokata Newsline ....

"Photoshop, the photo imaging software, which has positioned the same art of photography artistically opposite what the French master Henri Cartier-Bresson famously defined as capturing “the decisive moment”, and which together with the digital format is radically democratizing click art for the masses, is today both the hero and the villain in the frame."

"As far as I’m concerned, as long as the creative aspect is present in the frame I don’t really care about how it is done." - Atul Kasbekar, photographer.

"It’s ideal for those who don’t have the talent, yet want to become photo artists, and worldwide digital art is yet to make an impact. I think it’s the National Geographic model, where manipulation is a no(t) allowed, which will ultimately survive. Everything else, including Photoshop and the accompanying hype around it, will be discarded ..." - Atanu Paul, Third Eye, a phography school in Kolkata.

My thoughts ...

A hundred years ago the Kodak Brownie camera was "democratizing click art for the masses".

It is the pixel based screen dispaly that is the great democratizer. All images on the screen are made of the same substance which allows the image's aesthetic to stand for itself without relying on an underlying object.

Both traditional and digital tools will survive and be used creatively. It will never be one or the other.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Changing tastes

The Art Newspaper reports from Frieze in London.

The London private dealer Nicolai Frahm said: “There’s much less photography, which continues the trend we’d seen in recent fairs.”

The New York dealer Jeffrey Deitch said, “There is definitely less photography and a return to painting and to abstraction. But it’s not the same abstraction as we saw before, because that went towards minimalism and minimalism ran into a dead end. This abstraction is more poetic.”

A gospel's rain

The most interesting thing is the lie

From the Financial Times profile of Nobuyoshi Araki.

“I have always emphasised the importance of private photography,” he says, “that style of photography really captures human life itself.” He calls this semi-autobiographical approach “I-photography”, a term borrowed from the “I-novels” of Japanese literature. “By definition an ‘I-novel’ is about the writer and is supposed to reveal everything. But it isn’t true,” says Araki. “In order to write, the writer would fabricate something that’s untrue. There is more fiction about the artist himself. So it’s a betrayal, the most interesting thing is the lie, the complete fantasy, the fiction.”

Does this mean Araki’s work is made up of lies? “It’s all mixed,” he says. “The interesting thing is you’re not sure, it’s blurred. It is all about the tales, the mixture of truthfulness and fiction, life and death.”

The I-novelists emerged in the 1920s, consciously separating themselves from western styles of writing. Araki also distinguishes himself from western photographers. “[They] are very conscious about how they are seen, about how their work is seen. They’re very conscious about society and what is going on around them. I don’t care, I’m not interested. I’m only interested in what I want to do.”