So, you (Corran) are saying that sale price is the sole test of merit. Sad.
One man's Mede is another man's Persian.
No, I am not saying that at all. But the fact is Gursky has made a successful career as a PHOTOGRAPHER, as clearly demonstrated by the fact that people pay $X for his work and museums hold his work, and what anonymous internet photographer #573 has to say about his work is completely irrelevant.
At a more specific level, I do not wish to toil away in the darkroom and receive absolutely no return in either investment or recognition. So I am striving for sales and shows. What are you striving for? Personal enrichment?
I'm sure the prints themselves feel very fine.This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
-- Douglas Adams, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Last edited by Brian C. Miller; 15-Feb-2012 at 08:35. Reason: clarification
"It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans
It's all just a game, and once you're mature enough in your own artistic shoes to figure
that out, then you realize that there's no suite of gurus or gods up there dictating the
rules. We make our own rules. For some people the prime directive is to make obscene
amounts money. Fine. That's called business. For others it's playing along with the
artsy fartsy trends of the moment and sucking up to the alleged experts. Fine. But I've certainly known my share of famous painters as well as photographers, and not one of them fit the artsy stereotypes, and most of them stuggled to make ends meet
during most of their own lifetimes. And if you don't like me coining the term Fauxtography, just plain too bad. My opinion is just as valid as anyone else's. Show me an art critic who can make prints as good as I can and I'll consider them an equal. Otherwise, it's all sideshow.
To be honest, I don't get it. Sure, there are always people with too much money...
I mean, these photographs are just prints and don't involve the original negative (if it even exists) - so it's just a copy. It's like a nice copy of a book, you pay some money for the printing, the leather cover, paper and of course for the artistic value - that's it.
But several million $ for a simple print? Come on... And when he prints a new one?
It's just been my experience that the fight for definitions and categories appeals most to those who don't have anything substantive to argue. The fight usually involves an exclusionary move: That's not art; That's not photography; That's not poetry; That's not Jazz. Of course, history almost always shows us that what we consider classic examples of a category today came under fire for innauthenticity when they were new. But it doesn't matter—people entrenched in the status quo don't like the prospect of dilution that's implied by their world getting bigger. And they don't like the emphasis being shifted farther away from them. Fair enough, but it's annoying when they act righteous and don't acknowledge their rhetoric as defensive and self serving.
I notice that the people who actually have the power to influence history tend to embrace expansion, not exclusion. If photography curators see remarkable, relevant new work that stretches the old definitions of photography, they'd rather expand those definitions (and the world they serve as steward) rather than let they guys down the hall claim the work.
You could argue this is self-serving as well, but—at least since the beginning of the modern era—the history of arts has been one of expansion. A curator's or critic's willingness to include, to expand, to nurture evolution, seems like getting out of the way of what artists do naturally more than like any kind of artificial manipulation.
In the end, though, the primary reason we have these labels and categories is for the purpose of communication. If I ask you what kind of art does Bob make and you say Photography, I don't see it primarily as a political stance; I see it as information. You're telling me what floor of the museum to go to, what shelf at the magazine store, what to type into google.
The artists I admire most don't really care about the labels; they care about their work. Chris Jordan took some heat here when he switched from 8x10 to stiched digital. Some people actually accused him of no longer being a photographer. He didn't step up to the fight, because philosophically and politically, he doesn't have a dog in that linguistic race. He just wants to do his work. It so happens that it's the photography curators, editors, and grant givers who have embraced his work. If he's smart—and he is—he'll go along with the label they give him and not worry about some guy online calling him a fauxtographer.
paulr, you said what I was thinking better than I could. I wasn't trying to latch on to the dollar amount specifically (though that was the topic of the thread) but instead the obvious success of Gursky as a photographer.
Like it or not it's a fad. Giant prints with digital manipulation. Basically 70's themes printed as huge installations with a few tweaks done the lazy way. At least the old
school tabloids tooks the time to use pinking shears and Elmer's glue when then wanted to paste Elvis' head on Bigfoot. Not a knock on Gursky's vision - he has a
wonderful sense of scale and balance - but get real - new it ain't. And every kid around nowadays knows how to do this stuff. The real work is done by the folks who have to mount this stuff. I've got nothing against this kind of technique per se. But let's see what it's worth in a generation or two, provided it hasn't literally faded into oblivion. Works this big are installations. You can't really preserve or collect them. As an investment they don't make any sense at all. My guess is that there are some stockmarket jerks out there who have money to waste and want to impress
their social peers with something some art critic thinks is trendy. It's just like interior
design. I call it Fauxtography not because I have anything against either photomontages or digital workflow, but because of the contempt I have for artsy fads
and those who buy into them.