|Documentary photography can be art photography too...|
“Pictures which are going directly from the eyes to the heart...“
(An inscription in the visitor‘s book of my 2015 „Leftovers“ exhibition in Lucca)
"Is photography art?" may seem like a silly question to some (or many, or most) but it has been a debate which started more or less right at the moment when Joseph Nicéphore Niépce made the first photograph in 1826 or 1827 and this debate is still going on. If I would get 10 Euro every time I had this discussion over the last 30 years or so I would be a very rich man...
The invention of photography had an dramatic impact on the careers of illustrators and painters. The livelihood of many artists was jeopardized by the camera, which they often viewed as a mechanical device or passing fancy, rather than as an artist's tool. Few denied that photography was an ingenious invention of the modern age but many saw it as a threat to the traditional values associated with art. The public debate on whether images were photography as art or mere documentation began back then, often centering on the camera, rather than on the talents and intent of the photographer.
Let‘s start with a definition of "Art Photography" - that is how Wikipedia is defining it:
- Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer.
- Photography that is done as a fine art - that is, done to express the artist's perceptions and emotions and to share them with others.
- The production of images to fulfill the creative vision of a photographer
- Creating images that evoke emotion by a photographic process in which one's mind and imagination are freely but competently exercised.
Photography is an art when the photographer is an artist. It is immaterial that the photo can be replicated a thousand times (thus depriving the 'original' of its unique status). A photographer's art is his ability to capture a moment of reality and turn it into viewable image of interest and/or beauty. At the end of the day a camera is not so very different from a painter's brushes and paints. It is no more than a set of tools with which a photographer tries to create an image: an image to stir our soul, in the way that images do.
Every time I take pictures, I don't photograph a motive, but the picture of a motive. To transform this motive into a picture, one must convert it into the "medium photography", meaning that everything you observed at the motive, experienced, felt you have to express with the given characteristics of the medium - the whole pallet of the grey tones . The more exactly one knows the tools, the more successfully the conversion is. The successful picture - and not the motive itself - then represents the photographic correspondence, the photographic equivalent of the experiences with this motive. In this doing the artistic photography arranges itself into a row with all other representing arts.
Only the picture contains the message.
One could say that when the one of the leading institutions in modern art, the MoMA in New York, has a separate department for photography (as it has since 1940) the question „Is photography art?“ could be seen as solved. Today, fine art photographs can be seen in many leading museums around the world, even such revered and conservative like the Albertina in Vienna...
"I have discovered photography. Now I can kill myself. I have nothing else to learn."
"I have always been very interested in photography. I have looked at far more photographs than I have paintings. Because their reality is stronger than reality itself."
Posted in: Oppinions