Photography IS art

Matthew Jabour

New member
Jan 13, 2012
1,063
0
0
Recently, a fairly nice photograph of a canyon in Arizona, called 'Phantom', sold for $6.5 million. You can find it at this link, as well as possibly the snootiest article I've ever read explaining why it isn't real art:

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/dec/10/most-expensive-photograph-ever-hackneyed-tasteless

Now, even if the whole 'are videogames art?' debacle hadn't happened, I think we could all agree that anybody who claims something 'isn't art' has a lot of ground to cover in order to not look like a massive snob, and the Guardian clearly has not even made such an attempt. But, rather than make snippy remarks about their snippy remarks, I'd rather address his points directly.

Of course photography is art. Not just in the obvious technical definition 'anything that you make is art', but also in the sense of something you might put in a gallery or a museum. The article, written by one Johnathon Jones, claims otherwise because photography is just 'a technology', and that simply taking a still shot of something that already exists in nature isn't creating art. He points out that there are hundreds of similar images readily available on Google, none of which would sell for upwards of $6 million.

Now, let's start with the 'just a technology' argument. Well, I say argument, but I can really see no way of defending it. Of course a digital camera is a piece of technology. So is a film camera. Or a brush. Or MS Paint. That doesn't make it incapable of producing art.

Second, artful photography like this is more than just snapping a photo on your phone, then picking a filter for it. The photo in question was clearly the product of some time consuming search for locations, then finding just the right time, etc. In any case, the amount of effort put into an artwork does not change whether it is art or not, as we learned mere weeks ago when a painting of a white line on a blue background sold for almost $44 million dollars.

No, seriously. http://twentytwowords.com/canvas-painted-blue-with-a-white-line-sells-for-nearly-44-million-4-pictures/

And it is true that there are hundreds of similar pictures on Google images. It's also true that kindergarteners draw squiggly lines on paper in the thousands. That's still art.

But his main point was that, if you simply take a picture of something that was made naturally, that isn't art. Which is, of course, entirely false, as I shall prove with the following syllogism:

1. Film is a form of art.
2. Nature documentaries, which mainly consist of footage of natural events occurring, are films.
3. Therefore, footage of nature can be considered art.

Now I know what you're thinking. "Matt," you think, "This is a pointless argument. I don't even care about photography, why should I care if it's art or not?"

Well, good sir/fine madam, if you cared about whether videogames were art or not, you should care about this. Both of these cases are a prime example of an old art form declaring a new one invalid, and both are just as ludicrous. When some new art form comes along in 30 years, people will try to delegitimize that, too. But if we learn from the older generation's mistakes, we can avoid being part of the group that spews hate on anything that came after their time. Instead, we can be the group that mocks that group on the Internet. And isn't that a goal worth striving for?

P.S. In case you clicked on this because you misread the title as 'Pornography IS art', rest assured that this is also true.
 

Nickolai77

New member
Apr 3, 2009
2,843
0
0
Here's a good definition of what art is:

"The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.[footnote]http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/art[/footnote]

With that in mind, I think it is perfectly justifiable that a photograph can be considered a piece of art. The act of consciously photographing a particular thing that has beauty or emotional power is the application of human creative skill.

Furthermore, I would argue that the only difference between a panting and photograph, as an item of art, is that the means of creation differ. An artist creates a picture through the act of drawing and painting, whilst the photographer uses the camera and computer software to create the photograph. Both require skill and creativity to create a good piece of art, be it a photograph or created by hand.
 

DoPo

"You're not cleared for that."
Jan 30, 2012
8,665
0
0
Knight Captain Kerr said:
Of course photography is art. I'm actually somewhat surprised to find people disputing this.
Yes, indeed. But prepare for even more amazement.

Anybody can replicate the amazement, actually. I've distilled it into a list of steps that are easy to follow:

0. You'd need pen and paper, or notepad, or to take a photo, or just leave the information I tell you open in a tab - whatever means you feel are easy to capture some information. I'll refer using pen and paper to get the information but you can mentally substitute it with whatever approach you chose.
1. Go to the article linked in the OP. For refrence, that is http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/dec/10/most-expensive-photograph-ever-hackneyed-tasteless
2. Write down the following things: the author name and the first two sentences.
3. Open the following link: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/jan/10/photography-art-of-our-time
4. Write down the following things: the author name and the third sentence (it's the first one on the second paragraph).
5. Compare the notes.

If you've followed that you would have gotten these you should get this

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is not an art. It is a technology."

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is the serious art of our time."
 

deathbydeath

New member
Jun 28, 2010
1,363
0
0
Matthew Jabour said:
P.S. In case you clicked on this because you misread the title as 'Pornography IS art', rest assured that this is also true.
Okay good, your photography tangents were confusing me for a minute.

Unrelated:
 

Knight Captain Kerr

New member
May 27, 2011
1,283
0
0
DoPo said:
Knight Captain Kerr said:
Of course photography is art. I'm actually somewhat surprised to find people disputing this.
Yes, indeed. But prepare for even more amazement.

Anybody can replicate the amazement, actually. I've distilled it into a list of steps that are easy to follow:

0. You'd need pen and paper, or notepad, or to take a photo, or just leave the information I tell you open in a tab - whatever means you feel are easy to capture some information. I'll refer using pen and paper to get the information but you can mentally substitute it with whatever approach you chose.
1. Go to the article linked in the OP. For refrence, that is http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/dec/10/most-expensive-photograph-ever-hackneyed-tasteless
2. Write down the following things: the author name and the first two sentences.
3. Open the following link: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/jan/10/photography-art-of-our-time
4. Write down the following things: the author name and the third sentence (it's the first one on the second paragraph).
5. Compare the notes.

If you've followed that you would have gotten these you should get this

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is not an art. It is a technology."

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is the serious art of our time."
What? But that's the opposite of what he... What?

I think you broke me. Either this guy has changed his mind since he wrote that other article or he doesn't keep track of what he writes. Maybe both. Or maybe somebody else wrote else wrote one of these articles and he just put his name on both of them.
 

DoPo

"You're not cleared for that."
Jan 30, 2012
8,665
0
0
Knight Captain Kerr said:
DoPo said:
Knight Captain Kerr said:
Of course photography is art. I'm actually somewhat surprised to find people disputing this.
Yes, indeed. But prepare for even more amazement.

Anybody can replicate the amazement, actually. I've distilled it into a list of steps that are easy to follow:

0. You'd need pen and paper, or notepad, or to take a photo, or just leave the information I tell you open in a tab - whatever means you feel are easy to capture some information. I'll refer using pen and paper to get the information but you can mentally substitute it with whatever approach you chose.
1. Go to the article linked in the OP. For refrence, that is http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/dec/10/most-expensive-photograph-ever-hackneyed-tasteless
2. Write down the following things: the author name and the first two sentences.
3. Open the following link: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/jan/10/photography-art-of-our-time
4. Write down the following things: the author name and the third sentence (it's the first one on the second paragraph).
5. Compare the notes.

If you've followed that you would have gotten these you should get this

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is not an art. It is a technology."

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is the serious art of our time."
What? But that's the opposite of what he... What?

I think you broke me. Either this guy has changed his mind since he wrote that other article or he doesn't keep track of what he writes. Maybe both. Or maybe somebody else wrote else wrote one of these articles and he just put his name on both of them.
Or, you know, clickbait. Must have all those moniez from views and shit.
 

visiblenoise

New member
Jul 2, 2014
395
0
0
It seems to me that both sides can be valid opinions. It just depends on what the individual wants the definition of "art" to be.

To be completely honest, I have a strong preference for art that creates things with some element of newness - new music, new stories, new worlds, new ideas. And if I embraced that bias, it would absolutely be consistent with myself to say that photography is less of an art form than some other ones, because strict photography presents nothing new, apart from the audience that wouldn't have observed the scene.

But if I was feeling liberal, I'd admit that anything that has that sublime ability to affect people can be called art, and so photography becomes as much of an art form as anything else. It would almost be against the spirit of "art" to rank artforms so callously.

But then I wonder - what use is such a broad definition of the word 'art' to anyone?
 

Signa

Noisy Lurker
Legacy
Jul 16, 2008
4,742
0
41
Country
USA
I'm not going to try to say that photography isn't art, but it is pretty low-value as an artform. It takes little effort to produce (which isn't a disqualifier by itself), and anyone can do it with almost no skill. Much of it is instantly reproducible by another photographer (artist) if they are viewing the same scene with the same equipment, to the point where it could be impossible to detect a forgery or copycat artist.

That said, I've seen some beautiful photos over the years, some of which are just as inspiring as any other art piece. I don't know how to call it not an artform if it parallels art that closely.
 

maninahat

New member
Nov 8, 2007
4,397
0
0
I disagree with the statement "photography isn't art", but I can see where the critic is coming from; the photo does look like some vacuous image stuck up in a hotel room, to fill a space on the wall rather than be noticed. It's much less like a good piece of art photography, which is evocative and eye catching.
 

maninahat

New member
Nov 8, 2007
4,397
0
0
DoPo said:
Knight Captain Kerr said:
DoPo said:
Knight Captain Kerr said:
Of course photography is art. I'm actually somewhat surprised to find people disputing this.
Yes, indeed. But prepare for even more amazement.

Anybody can replicate the amazement, actually. I've distilled it into a list of steps that are easy to follow:

0. You'd need pen and paper, or notepad, or to take a photo, or just leave the information I tell you open in a tab - whatever means you feel are easy to capture some information. I'll refer using pen and paper to get the information but you can mentally substitute it with whatever approach you chose.
1. Go to the article linked in the OP. For refrence, that is http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/dec/10/most-expensive-photograph-ever-hackneyed-tasteless
2. Write down the following things: the author name and the first two sentences.
3. Open the following link: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/jan/10/photography-art-of-our-time
4. Write down the following things: the author name and the third sentence (it's the first one on the second paragraph).
5. Compare the notes.

If you've followed that you would have gotten these you should get this

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is not an art. It is a technology."

Jonathan Jones: "Photography is the serious art of our time."
What? But that's the opposite of what he... What?

I think you broke me. Either this guy has changed his mind since he wrote that other article or he doesn't keep track of what he writes. Maybe both. Or maybe somebody else wrote else wrote one of these articles and he just put his name on both of them.
Or, you know, clickbait. Must have all those moniez from views and shit.
I think it is more that he is exasperated by the way in which photography wants to be taken seriously as an art form, and should be, but the medium is mired by bad, pretentious and disinteresting photography that undermines that effort. As a gamer, I can sympathise with that.
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
5,499
0
0
This is my response to the people who use the phrase "x is not art": You not liking something or appreciating it is fine, but that doesn't mean it isn't art. Crap art is still art, and also still crap. Neither state changes just because it exists as such.
I could go on a discussion level paragraph or four explaining this further but I don't think I need to since I feel the first sentiment does a better job.
So yeah "Crap art is still art, and also still crap" sums it up.
 

SonOfVoorhees

New member
Aug 3, 2011
3,509
0
0
Art is something created for no other reason than for itself. A computer game or a car can look nice, can look beautiful but its not art as those are created to make money. But then its up to whatever people think it is.
 

DoPo

"You're not cleared for that."
Jan 30, 2012
8,665
0
0
maninahat said:
I think it is more that he is exasperated by the way in which photography wants to be taken seriously as an art form, and should be, but the medium is mired by bad, pretentious and disinteresting photography that undermines that effort.
And his article is mired by being bad, pretentious and...yeah, also disinteresting, which undermines his effort. Unless you want to claim it was "ironic" and that was, in fact, a work of absolute genius and that I missed the point in the exact same way the author missed the point of the photograph or how logic works, which is actually somehow a deliberate preemptive mocking of all who would criticise him? In which case, I'd say you are probably giving the article too much credit.
 

DoPo

"You're not cleared for that."
Jan 30, 2012
8,665
0
0
SonOfVoorhees said:
Art is something created for no other reason than for itself. A computer game or a car can look nice, can look beautiful but its not art as those are created to make money. But then its up to whatever people think it is.
Right, so Michelangelo just happened to wander into the Sistine Chapel and happened to have some brushes in paint with him and went "You know what? I feel like drawing God and stuff here". He wasn't, like, comissioned for money to do that. Huh, must have heard story wrong, then.
 

Shamanic Rhythm

New member
Dec 6, 2009
1,653
0
0
OMG, stop the fucking presses. A creative work that has earned someone a lot of money might not be incredibly sublime?

You could make this argument for ANYTHING. "50 Shades of Grey is the highest grossing book, therefore novels will never be art." "One Direction have sold several million albums, therefore music will never be art."

Thanks for the link, gave me a good space to rant about shitty critics.
 

RhombusHatesYou

Surreal Estate Agent
Mar 21, 2010
6,222
446
88
Country
Australia
Spot1990 said:
the medium is not the art.
Exactly. There is no medium that automatically bestows the value of 'art' merely by being used.

Many things have been used to create art. Faeces have been used to create art but that doesn't mean the shit I took today was art or that shit is an artistic medium by default... or to use a less extreme example when I was younger I would often create incredibly detailed visual works with nothing but a bit of paper and a black pen but that didn't mean my shopping lists (using the exact same materials) were art.
 

RhombusHatesYou

Surreal Estate Agent
Mar 21, 2010
6,222
446
88
Country
Australia
DoPo said:
He wasn't, like, comissioned for money to do that. Huh, must have heard story wrong, then.
Actually he was made to do it under a Community Service Order to cover up all the dicks he'd spray painted on the basilica ceiling several months earlier.


But cereally, before the late 19th century almost every artwork worth noting was produced either as a commission or for a patron. Then it changed to creation with an eye toward either direct sales or sales of reproductions (the concept of posters as a product instead of advertisement pretty much stems from the late C19 Parisian art scene).