Is Photography Art?

Started May 4, 2013 | Discussions thread
sjstremb
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Re: Is Photography Art?
In reply to Mark_A, May 4, 2013

Hmmm, is this question from someone who just wanted to stir things up and takes pleasure in it, or someone who is just seriously misinformed as to the state of art criticism and history? Not sure if I should take the bait, but here goes.

As a professor of art at a major research university who has taught photography and the history of photography for 35 years, and has actually done real research into the history of photography, I think I am on pretty firm ground in saying that the OP is misguided at best and possibly a dope. Yes, there I said it.

My good sir, this matter of is photography an art, was actually a hot topic at the turn of the century (the 19th century!), I suggest you do some reading on the writings of Alfred Steiglitz (or earlier still P. H. Emerson) one of the early champions of photography as a fine art, he was a photographer, curator and writer about photography and this matter was pretty much settled in the art community- like 100 years ago. For sure you can make a case for bad art, you can make a case for "is all photography art?" Of Course Not all photography is art, but then again my grandson's finger painting is not art either. There is a lot to be said for intention. You said your intention was not to make art? No matter, if you do not think its art, its pretty much not art. Ansel Adams is indeed an artist, but I don't think Ansel wasted a lot of time worrying about it or Edward Weston for that matter (read Daybooks of Edward Weston), these guys all lived and breathed it and in the end, did indeed make art. I am actually a little weary about the entire discussion on intention and art, but I will give you the benifit of the doubt and hope that your OP was more about the intention of art practice as a definition of what art is or is not. Again, we get into the good art/bad art thing here, which has a range of opinions that go with it. Indeed, there is a lot of bad/lame art out there. But lets not post the question, is Photography Art? willy nilly.

In fact, in terms of contemporary practice, photography is in the middle of the majority of fine art practice world wide, in whole or part. Most contemporary artists are involved in the media in one way or another. There are few if any museums or significant art collections anywhere in the world that do not have photography in one form or another in their collections.

Now I am sure there are people out that that will still debate this issue, but then again their are still flat earthers out there who think the world is flat, that the moon landing was a hoax by NASA and any number of other misguided beliefs, so go on, get it out there, but first do a little research yourself before you burn up any more bandwidth. Of yes, and have a nice day, go make some art.

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