Painting & Photography – Kissing Cousins

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a photographer in the age of photo-representational painting. With so many of the top artists painting directly from appropriated advertising and editorial imagery, how do we define the fine-art photograph? It seems like the photographer’s response has been to create bodies of work that focus on color, compositional strategies, or conceptual projects – not subject matter. There is also a trend to photograph the ‘other’ – by artists from non-first world countries. The question for photography is – with artists like Elizabeth Peyton and Richard Phillips, how does one make a portrait? I think in some ways it is a very open and interesting time to be making photo-based art, but it is also very difficult to make ‘straight photography.’ Alec Soth’s runaway success has largely been based on his ability to make straight photography, while employing just enough conceptual ‘twist’ to set himself apart from the Joel Sternfeld, Steven Shore tradition.

Richard Phillips painting’s are especially interesting to me – in the context of portraiture. I am still not sure how I feel about using exploitative images of women to represent other forms of political or cultural exploitation. I have to say, reading his artist statement below & interview from his gallery White Cube, he is very intelligent and his work is extremely informed. Lisa Yuskavage has also borrowed from the porn aesthetic, but somehow her images deny the viewer the expected pleasure. I think that photography & painting are always in dialog, either playing off each other and in a slightly aggressive competition. The generation of painters coming up, seem to be moving toward illustration and abstraction.I certainly am not an expert on all of this, but I feel in making work, I have to resolve my own relationship with painting. For me, photography has the ability to capture things that are a part of our current culture, and elevate, explore, critique, evaluate or reflect on it. How I visually represent them in my work, is like painting, in the sense that I can create an image that will be infused with my interpretation of that object, person or place.

Photography does seem to be making a shift, much like painting experienced during the impressionism. With photoshop and digital imaging, artists are free from the high modernist idea of the photographic document. But unlike the work of the 1980’s it does not have to be a collage or a complete deconstruction of the image, it can merely be a revised version of reality. Robert Polidori’s “After The Flood’ images, were not changed in the sense that cars were added or houses were digitally destroyed, but they were enhanced enough to create a heightened view of the devastation. I believe this is where photography is now operates. In this sense the technological and mechanical nature of the photograph sets it apart from painting. There are many photographer’s exploring technology to make portraits. Some successful, many of them not. There has still not been anything as genius as Rineke Dijkstra‘s use of time. Her ‘serials,’ which capture how experience changes a person – are still the most moving and effective use of conceptual device in portraiture I have seen. But I am excited to see how the fine-art portrait is reconciled with the digital age.

White Cube

Over the last decade, Phillips has developed a striking signature style that derives its tension from a selective use of lurid popular images from that he subjects to the technical, value-laden refinements of academic painting. As a self-conscious American painter weaned on postmodern appropriation strategies…

R.P. In the late eighties and early nineties, appropriation in art often sought to critique society and culture by turning the images of power directly against their source, in an effort to expose the corrupt agendas of larger political entities. There was a decisive separation of the depicted subject from its form in the service of a directed message that, while devaluing the image, attempted to usher in superior ideals. At this stage painting was generally relegated to entertainment/media status, where representations of once expressive styles were seen as a conceptual social critique. The so-called painting emergency sought nothing other than the perpetuation of itself as a still-born medium trading on sympathies of initiated well-wishers. Painting as a medium was seen as an illustrative form, which sacrificed its physical and visual power to an idealistic end. Yet it is precisely the texture of these commingled relationships between times, efforts, irreconcilable differences, and hypocrisies which painting now has the power to meditate on and possess, unleashing new gestures from a position where these delusions can be seen as a control in our present social experiment, where power infused into the visual and physical reality of painting can reflect this, our alienated and fallible state of humanity. (from 2002 interview)

Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips

Lisa Yuskavage

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Lisa Yuskavage

John Currin

John Currin

Elizabeth Peyton

Elizabeth Peyton

Vik Muniz

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Valerie Belin

Valerie Belin

Tracey Moffat

Tracey Moffat
Trish Morrissey

Trish Morrissey

Kelli Connell

Kelli Connell

Loretta Lux

Loretta Lux

Anne Collier

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Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura

Rineke Dijkstra

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Bloggers Get Art World Cred

Blogs based art shows??  I just read on ArtCal about the third of these new and rather interesting developments in the cyberspace meets real world collaborations.  I heart photograph & Conscientious have both evolved from online curating to the real world shows, and it seems that now that blogging by artist’s is an art:

Excerpt from Bill Gusky’s article (Artblog Comments)

A number of artists have entered the blog arena, writing about art and the art world as they participate in it through their visual work. There have always been artists who write about art, and at times their writing has been highly influential; Donald Judd is one name that leaps to mind. As a new art narrative emerges, writers of all stripes – critics, historians, curators and even art bloggers — will play a large part in shaping, interpreting and defining it.

This exhibition focuses on the work of artists who are active art blog writers. The work you see here emerged in the studio in near-simultaneity with the artist’s written expressions. These twin efforts – art making and blog writing — sometimes appear to flow together and intertwine beautifully, and at other times almost seem to be in diametric opposition.

Personally I find blogging a great way, post art school, to keep myself researching and looking at other artists work.  But more than anything, I think blogging creates community and the flow of information.  It is not easy to keep up with everything happening out there, and I am starting to rely on some of my online cohorts to disseminate the art & photo worlds for me.  But blogging as an art, that I have to think about. 

The Blogger Show

Agni Gallery
East Village / Lower East Side

170 East 2nd street, 917-683-0643
November 3, 2007 – January 12, 2008
Opening: Saturday, November 3, 6 – 8PM

From the Mouths of…Photographers

Thanks to Speak, See, Remember for this very strange and interesting find. PhotoQuotes.com is a site, of you guessed it, quotes of well-known (and obscure) photogs. What is perhaps most compelling is that someone embarked on this rather monumental task of compiling, categorizing and posting these tidbit’s. Some profound, some illuminating and some just plain boring. I have cherry-picked some that I thought were worth a read.

I hope that these photographs are sterile, that there’s no emotional content. -Lewis Baltz

Lewis Baltz
No place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film. -Robert Adams

Robert Adams

The thing that’s important to know is that you never know. You’re always sort of feeling your way. -Diane Arbus
A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know. -Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus

There are too many people studying it [photography] now who are never going to make it. You can’t give them a formula for making it. You have to have it in you first, you don’t learn it. The seeing eye is the important thing. -Imogen Cunningham

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One advantage of the discovery of the Photographic Art will be, that it will enable us to introduce into our pictures a multitude of minute details which add to the truth and reality of the representation, but which no artist would take the trouble to faithfully copy from nature. -William Henry Fox Talbot

William Henry Fox Talbot

From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour. -Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron

Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. -Walker Evans

Walker Evans

Photography has no dark sides ! -August Sander

August Sander

If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses. -Margaret Bourke-White

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If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera. -Lewis Wickes Hine

Lewis Hine

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt. -Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Unless a picture shocks, it is nothing. -Marcel Duchamp

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If you want reality take the bus. -David LaChapelle

David La Chapelle

Top 10 Organic Foods

I saw this on NYTimes.com blog, Dr. Green focuses not only on pesticides but on how foods affect the environment. On his website he goes into detail about the amount of oil used in modern farm production, and the effect on our water supply from pesticide runoff. The idea is to take responsibility for the effect you have on the planet with your eating choices. I also like that he address’s cost, most families (and artists for that matter) can’t afford to go all organic, but he makes it clear that even switching to one or two of the top foods, can make a difference. I will say the production value of the videos is kind of hokey, but it’s nice to see someone making an effort to provide information in such a reasonable, informative manner. I have been trying to be organic for a long time, but higher cost makes it impossible to be 100%. It’s nice to know that I can still make an impact with a few changes.

This is obviously becoming a big issue in our country, there are already 379 posts on the Times site about the article. There is quite a bit of contention in the posts: claims that dairy, potatoes & peanuts are bad for you in any form, debates about the truthfulness in organic labeling, and questions about choosing between organic and locally produced food. There does not seem to be much agreement on this subject. My feelings are that most Americans eat these foods, and it is probably a lot easier to get them to go organic, then to give them up all together. I find it interesting that are culture is equally obsessed with health, eating & external appearances. It seems like we are always having to choose between the 3. It would be nice is food that tasted good, was also healthy and kept us looking good.

Top 10 Organic Foods – Dr. Greene’s Organic Rx

1. Milk

2. Potatoes

3. Peanut Butter

4. Baby Foods

5. Catsup

6. Cotton

7. Apples

8. Beef

9. Soy

10. Corn

11. Wine – Indeed, hard to find good & inexpensive choices.

Edward Weston understood our desire for food was related to other desires, and therefore irrational. Perhaps we will not make better choices, until we stop thinking about food in terms good/bad, indulge/deny.

Edward Weston

I’m Jealous

Smarmy, too clever for his own good, overly ‘meta’, or genius, Tim Davis, makes me hate him. Hate him for being smarter than everyone else! I read about Tim’s new body of work, My Audience on Ofer Wolberger’s blog, Horses Think. As an artist starting out, I am currently working very hard putting together my first book prospectus. For someone in my shoes, having a book published of my work is a dream come true scenario. So you can only imagine my reaction to Tim’s photos of his audiences on his book tour promoting My Life in Politics. But that is exactly why the pictures are so good. The world is suddenly flooded with very talented artists, all you have to do is go to i heart photograph or flak photo, to see the overwhelming quantity of great, good, decent and not so great work out there. It is a little daunting if I allow myself to think about it. And then here is Tim, who is super successful, has everything most photogs are aiming for, showing us what it feels like once you get there. And the meager, bored audiences pack quite a punch. Of course, I am sure there were audiences that were engaged and into the book. The pictures are definitely a statement on the current photo & art market. It certainly helped me remember to be patient and to focus on the things I love about my work – the other stuff hopefully comes when its the right moment. It’s always better to get success when you are no longer dependent on the praise of others, or sensitive to the rejection of the peanut galley. I am not a big fan of work about ‘art’ but Tim is the rare exception who manages to get it right.

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Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Well I had an amazing vacation, Miami is great off season. Our flight home was even more stressful then the disaster on the way. It seems customer service no longer exists in the airline industry. It is too bad, because no matter how great your trip is, the airline sucks any feelings of relaxation or happiness out of you. The latest exciting development is paying $10 per bag. And first they took the free honey roasted peanuts away, then the pretzels, then the food, and now even water & soda must be purchased – at least on Spirit Airlines. I imagine soon we will asked to ‘chip in’ for gas, like in a ride share. I remember as a child, the flight attendants offered you pillows, blankets and magazines, of course there was a smoking section then. (I guess not all the changes are bad)

After seeing my last post, Barney Kulok alerted me to Gary Winogrand’s body of work on airports. The work captures the entire travelling experience with Winogrand’s signiture frenetic, birds-eye style. It is amazing to see how much things have changed, but the emotional moments could be from now. There is something wonderful about that. We all is strive to create images that will resonate forty years later. I have borrowed from, Photo-eye and posted from the book below.

In truth, I sometimes forget about Winogrand. He is part of the Frank, Friedlander trifecta, and I tend to go for the other two. But looking at these images, I realize that I have been not given Winogrand his due. There is something about how is manages to be both in the world, but also an invisible commentator. By selecting certain moments, we are given insight into the subject, and our made into voyeurs with the photographer. Modern paparazzi shooters have appropriated Winogrand visual language, but in their effort to expose, they actually reveal nothing. Whereas Winogrand’s images boil over with meaning. The sight of the women at the airport in curlers, who has attempted to cover them with a head scarf, is worth the price of the book for me.

Gary Winogrand

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures

Gary Winogrand’s Arrivals & Departures