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Thread: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

  1. #81
    Zebra
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Quote Originally Posted by StoneNYC View Post
    The photo is powerful, very, it's wonderful...

    The fact that it's john Lennon, and that it's the last photo of him ever and he died the same day or what-not, yes it makes it way more powerful...

    Just like that tintype of Phillip Seymour Hoffman is way more powerful since he died right after, there are many more powerful images in the set of tintypes, much better images,.



    And the
    Funny you should use the tintype of Philliip Seymour Hoffman as an example of lauding context when in fact for me it is the negative connotative epitome of many of the points highlighted in this discussion about Close's work. A celebrity photographer, Victoria Will, gets the assignment to shoot celebrities digitally, decides on a whim to watch some youtube videos on wet plate work, buys pre-made kits from Bostick and Sullivan before heading out to Sundance, uses her celebrity to sell the idea and then proceeds to shoot plates for the first time that I wouldn't show privately, much less publicly. Everything wrong with how to use access to a unique opportunity and in the process make not bad, but horrible work from a craft perspective and for me even an art perspective. And then due to an awful event in a celebrity's life, the photograph is lauded for somehow tapping into Seymore Hoffman's last days of turmoil. Give me a break. If I were Katie Couric, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kurt Russell I would sue her for slander those plates are so horrific. When context, OR PROCESS, OR FORMAT SIZE, becomes THE ONLY REASON a photograph has value then the photographer has failed on so many levels as to be embarrassing. Kirk said it best earlier, that pushing boundaries and breaking rules can be exhilarating, exciting and filled with art--but you have to have mastered the rules, the craft first so you can be their master, not have that dynamic of mastery reversed and be at the whim of context or interpretation, or format size to hope your work has merit. My kid puts every subject dead center in his photos, he's twelve, and I can assure you he's not 'creating tension' in the composition. The example of the tintype work by Victoria Will, a twelve year old equivalent, who's brought the work home from art class and is hoping you will be her mommy and put it on the refrigerator. Its awful work that is only cool because Wet Plate is hot right now and the in alternative process. I've said this before and unfortunately will probably feel the need to say it again--I can't wait for Wet Plate to become more mundane so that it can assume its rightful place as one form of photographic syntax that when used properly can convey a visual language that is meaningful because the artist used its properties with skill and vision. The same can be said of 20 x 24 big camera work, or Polaroid materials or any combination of those tools. But if you use those tools for the sake of the tools like the example above then you are manipulating status, or craft to hide your lack of artistic vision and you are no different than the musician that has one hit and then spends his/her entire life trying to repeat work. The tintypes referenced above fit many of those characteristics and are low hanging fruit at its worst.

    Monty

  2. #82
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Quote Originally Posted by Monty McCutchen View Post
    Funny you should use the tintype of Philliip Seymour Hoffman as an example of lauding context when in fact for me it is the negative connotative epitome of many of the points highlighted in this discussion about Close's work. A celebrity photographer, Victoria Will, gets the assignment to shoot celebrities digitally, decides on a whim to watch some youtube videos on wet plate work, buys pre-made kits from Bostick and Sullivan before heading out to Sundance, uses her celebrity to sell the idea and then proceeds to shoot plates for the first time that I wouldn't show privately, much less publicly. Everything wrong with how to use access to a unique opportunity and in the process make not bad, but horrible work from a craft perspective and for me even an art perspective. And then due to an awful event in a celebrity's life, the photograph is lauded for somehow tapping into Seymore Hoffman's last days of turmoil. Give me a break. If I were Katie Couric, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kurt Russell I would sue her for slander those plates are so horrific. When context, OR PROCESS, OR FORMAT SIZE, becomes THE ONLY REASON a photograph has value then the photographer has failed on so many levels as to be embarrassing. Kirk said it best earlier, that pushing boundaries and breaking rules can be exhilarating, exciting and filled with art--but you have to have mastered the rules, the craft first so you can be their master, not have that dynamic of mastery reversed and be at the whim of context or interpretation, or format size to hope your work has merit. My kid puts every subject dead center in his photos, he's twelve, and I can assure you he's not 'creating tension' in the composition. The example of the tintype work by Victoria Will, a twelve year old equivalent, who's brought the work home from art class and is hoping you will be her mommy and put it on the refrigerator. Its awful work that is only cool because Wet Plate is hot right now and the in alternative process. I've said this before and unfortunately will probably feel the need to say it again--I can't wait for Wet Plate to become more mundane so that it can assume its rightful place as one form of photographic syntax that when used properly can convey a visual language that is meaningful because the artist used its properties with skill and vision. The same can be said of 20 x 24 big camera work, or Polaroid materials or any combination of those tools. But if you use those tools for the sake of the tools like the example above then you are manipulating status, or craft to hide your lack of artistic vision and you are no different than the musician that has one hit and then spends his/her entire life trying to repeat work. The tintypes referenced above fit many of those characteristics and are low hanging fruit at its worst.

    Monty
    Wow! Well said!

  3. #83
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Quote Originally Posted by Monty McCutchen View Post
    Funny you should use the tintype of Philliip Seymour Hoffman as an example of lauding context when in fact for me it is the negative connotative epitome of many of the points highlighted in this discussion about Close's work. A celebrity photographer, Victoria Will, gets the assignment to shoot celebrities digitally, decides on a whim to watch some youtube videos on wet plate work, buys pre-made kits from Bostick and Sullivan before heading out to Sundance, uses her celebrity to sell the idea and then proceeds to shoot plates for the first time that I wouldn't show privately, much less publicly. Everything wrong with how to use access to a unique opportunity and in the process make not bad, but horrible work from a craft perspective and for me even an art perspective. And then due to an awful event in a celebrity's life, the photograph is lauded for somehow tapping into Seymore Hoffman's last days of turmoil. Give me a break. If I were Katie Couric, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kurt Russell I would sue her for slander those plates are so horrific. When context, OR PROCESS, OR FORMAT SIZE, becomes THE ONLY REASON a photograph has value then the photographer has failed on so many levels as to be embarrassing. Kirk said it best earlier, that pushing boundaries and breaking rules can be exhilarating, exciting and filled with art--but you have to have mastered the rules, the craft first so you can be their master, not have that dynamic of mastery reversed and be at the whim of context or interpretation, or format size to hope your work has merit. My kid puts every subject dead center in his photos, he's twelve, and I can assure you he's not 'creating tension' in the composition. The example of the tintype work by Victoria Will, a twelve year old equivalent, who's brought the work home from art class and is hoping you will be her mommy and put it on the refrigerator. Its awful work that is only cool because Wet Plate is hot right now and the in alternative process. I've said this before and unfortunately will probably feel the need to say it again--I can't wait for Wet Plate to become more mundane so that it can assume its rightful place as one form of photographic syntax that when used properly can convey a visual language that is meaningful because the artist used its properties with skill and vision. The same can be said of 20 x 24 big camera work, or Polaroid materials or any combination of those tools. But if you use those tools for the sake of the tools like the example above then you are manipulating status, or craft to hide your lack of artistic vision and you are no different than the musician that has one hit and then spends his/her entire life trying to repeat work. The tintypes referenced above fit many of those characteristics and are low hanging fruit at its worst.

    Monty
    I said powerful, not "good" I agree that tintype sucks, some of the other ones aren't so horrible. Still, I'm saying context matters. People look at that image because is context, no one would have even seen them if he hadn't passed.

    PS I wish yiu said that whole thing in the thread, that was some great wording on her just picking it up recently. Didn't know that.
    ~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller

  4. #84

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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    I doubt very much any one knows Hill and Adamson's subjects now. Or who August Sander's subjects ever were. Or Man Ray's. I suspect good strong images remain that, even after Societal Alzheimer's kicks in. Context passes quite quickly these days.
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

  5. #85
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Some are asking why all the buzz about these crappy portraits. In architecture you oftentimes see architects do their most innovative work later in their careers. In many cases these innovative ideas were hatched decades ago but they did not have the reputation to get clients to commit millions of dollars to get their ideas built and when they are built, problem plagued or not they get massive exposure and press. The art press is not a sanctifying body but a purveyor of what it sees as newsworthy. Almost anything well established international artists do is newsworthy hence all the buzz about Close's recent work is closely related to who he is and is virtually unrelated to the quality of that work. All the press does not suggest that the project is "good" but simply interesting because of who did it.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

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  6. #86

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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    Or who August Sander's subjects ever were.
    Not by name but we know their occupations, their "type." That is integral to the work, although we don't see the work quite the same way as Sanders intended.

    --Darin
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  7. #87
    Jim Graves
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    I go back and forth on the importance of context in critiquing art ... to be "successful" art it must somehow engage the observer ... and context can certainly enhance the experience ... and, StoneNYC's choice of the Leibovitz Lennon/Ono photo is a perfect example ...

    Many factors create great art ... but ... to me, at least, context is probably the least important. Of course, as always, that opinion is worth what you paid me for it.

  8. #88
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    [/QUOTE] I'd rather you tell me nothing. If there needs to be explanatory text to accompany a photograph then the photograph is incomplete in some way. I prefer to encounter photographs without any context at all, at least on first viewing. I don't want to know who took it, or why, or with what gear, or on what film. I want to evaluate images at face value with as little bias as possible, like a blind taste test.[/QUOTE]

    Need this be an either or proposition? Because there is text does that mean the photograph cannot also stand on its own? Because there is text does that mean that it needed text?
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    "When did photography become a desk job?" Kirk Gittings 2009

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  9. #89
    Jonathan K. jcoldslabs's Avatar
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Kirk,

    I shouldn't be so dogmatic, but this issue is a personal bugaboo. I was being reductionist in my comments, perhaps unfairly.

    It is not either/or per se, but my preference is to see photos without context. If a photograph needs to be buttressed by text then the photographer has missed the mark. It reminds me of the old "show don't tell" adage for writers. If I want to take a melancholy portrait, then I should imbue the image with that mood through my technique, not take an ordinary portrait and title it, "Woman Feeling Sad" or describe in a sidebar the effect I was trying to achieve.

    I was talking with my wife about the Chuck Close portraits and she was telling me that many blogs she follows, especially those written by young women, were abuzz about the Scarlett Johansson and Kate Winslet photos. Why? Because these famously glamorous actors looked so plain, so ordinary....so much like them. That was their take-away. 20x24 Polaroid meant nothing to them. Lens choice meant nothing. Who Chuck Close is meant nothing. The conditions under which the photos were made meant nothing. Nor should they.

    That's not to say that explanations or historical context can't ultimately enrich one's appreciation of a photograph, but I think they are more often a crutch for the photographer than an integral part of the viewing experience.

    Jonathan
    Last edited by jcoldslabs; 9-Feb-2014 at 15:21. Reason: Syntax.

  10. #90
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    Re: Chuck Close 20x24 Polaroids in Vanity Fair

    Quote Originally Posted by jcoldslabs View Post
    Kirk,

    I shouldn't be so dogmatic, but this issue is a personal bugaboo. I was being reductionist in my comments, perhaps unfairly.

    It is not either/or per se, but my preference is to see photos without context. If a photograph needs to be buttressed by text then the photographer has missed the mark. It reminds me of the old "show don't tell" adage for writers. If I want to take a melancholy portrait, then I should imbue the image with that mood through my technique, not take an ordinary portrait and title it, "Woman Feeling Sad" or describe in a sidebar the effect I was trying to achieve.

    I was talking with my wife about the Chuck Close portraits and she was telling me that many blogs she follows, especially those written by young women, were abuzz about the Scarlett Johansson and Kate Winslet photos. Why? Because these famously glamorous actors looked so plain, so ordinary....so much like them. That was their take-away. 20x24 Polaroid meant nothing to them. Lens choice meant nothing. Who Chuck Close is meant nothing. The conditions under which the photos were made meant nothing. Nor should they.

    That's not to say that explanations or historical context can't ultimately enrich one's appreciation of a photograph, but I think they are more often a crutch for the photographer than an integral part of the viewing experience.

    Jonathan
    The conditions under which the photos were taken meant EVERYTHING to these women you're speaking about, because chuck insisted on "do your own makeup and hair" no fancy artists and no photoshop. The perspective /focal length also skews and enhances flaws...

    Context...
    ~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller

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