the artist's statement

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye" from THE LITTLE PRINCE. When people ask me "WHAT KIND OF ARTIST ARE YOU?"... I tell them, I am a painter ... they ask "OH oil or watercolor?".... I say, neither... I paint with light ... they give me a strange look.... IF I have the time and I think they are really interested, then I clarify... I use a camera and a scanner as a starting point, and then where it leads me I never know ... the end result may be a light capture from my scanner, or a manipulated photo, using many different computer enhancement tools including photoshop...... sometimes I create something that does not even look like anything recognizable. Then sometimes, I use mixed media.... mixing a printed inkjet picture with maybe a magazine transfer using wintergreen oil, or adding paint, or using sandpaper to rough it up the end I have something original that never existed before.... just a splash of pixel dust.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Is photography art?

Is photography an art and especially is it fine art?   That question has been debated for 100 years now, and the answer is still very illusive today.  After researching the question on the net, and having read 100’s of answers, I think it is best to start with the question of, “What makes something ART”.

Lets think about someone who would be considered as an artist by just about anyone in the world.  Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, are a few that I can think of.  SO what makes these men, artists, and what makes their works, art? 

Each one of them, used tools - mostly brushes, and applied paint to a canvas.  Using their skill, their experience, their vision, and their imagination, they each, created paintings.  These paintings express their personal impressions of the subject.  We, the audience, each of us will perceive these works of art differently, but we all feel something that the artist put into the piece.  Emotions, feelings, and intuition, all play a part in our appreciation of the art.

Now when an artist uses a camera and software as his tools to create a piece of photo art, he is doing the same thing as  Van Gogh is doing.  Just different tools.  Now some may argue that Van Gogh created art by his skillful use of the brush and many hours of work in front on the canvas, and that the photo artist merely snapped a picture, and maybe did some manipulation using software, and he or she did not show any special skills in doing so.  First, the amount of time it takes to create a painting is not relevant.  Look at Picasso.  He took a canvas and painted a couple of curves and a few dots on it and in seconds, he had a finished piece.  Why is that art? It may have taken him seconds to create it, but it was his 20 years of honing his skills, that allowed him to create that piece of art.  Same thing with the camera artist.  He may have snapped the picture and took seconds or hours, to manipulate it in Photoshop to create his art piece, but again, just like Picasso, the long hours of learning how to use the tools, i.e. the camera and Photoshop, and very importantly, his or her imagination, is what allowed him or her to create the final work. 

Ansel Adams, as a result of many hours of observing nature, learning to use his camera, and learning the techniques of developing the negatives, he was able to see and feel the right moment and the right angle, to capture the picture.  In the darkroom, he continued the process and ultimately printed the picture.  His work is considered by many to be fine art.

In the final analysis, what makes it art, is not the length of time it took, or the tools used, but the skill and imagination of the artist, the ability to convey a feeling, to see with the heart.  It is the mastery of the process of arranging all the elements that result in creating something original. Something that brings out an aesthetic sensibility in us when we look at the art. 


Michael Kirby said...

Great post - I agree with you. I would also include film-makers. It's amazing how artistic mediums have changed over time, but the reasons and motivations to make art, stay the same.

Johny Alives said...

thanks for commenting....