Books on how to evaluate photographs and galleries in NYC

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ymc226

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I took my 1st year photography art student daughter to see the Peter Fetterman Gallery near where we are. I didn't see any other similar gallery in the Los Angeles area. Peter Fetterman's had almost all B&W, all likely film based but I could not state if they were gelatin or digitally printed in all cases. The sizes were at or under 16x20 although there were a few large scale prints as well. The subjects were varied but were what I consider conventional. She enjoyed seeing the artwork but it is her first year at school in NYC, she has not taken an actual photography class yet. Obviously, being a hobbyist, I can't help her regarding how to evaluate or appreciate the specifics photos artistically; I can offer only my opinion from my own life experiences as it relates to the photos.

In another thread about photo magazines, Brooks Jensen's "Looking at Images" was recommended as a way to learn how to evaluate photographs. Are there other books that one would suggest? Are there specific photography galleries you could recommend she visit in the city?

My concern is that although she is at Parson's which has a good reputation, so far, there has not been any technical approach to the teaching in the courses she already has undertaken such as drawing. My daughter does not have an art background and went to an academic high school so I wanted to ask if a didactic approach to this is appropriate as compared to the sciences where my career has been.
 
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Pieter12

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ICP has a nice gallery, they have two shows coming up later this month. MoMA has an extensive photography collection, check to see if anything is up. While you were at Bergamot, you should have checked out Danziger (currently showing Francesca Woodman, Lora Webb Nichols and George Lang) and Galerie XII across the way. Union Station downtown has an interesting show on the construction of the underground Metro lines. Galleries generally exhibit a combination of analog and digital work, but will state the print medium on the label or the sell sheet. Also, next time your daughter is in Southern California, the Getty Center has a wing dedicated to photography shows and if you venture out farther there is the California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside and the Museum of Photographic Art in Balboa Park (San Diego). Always check first for opening hours and days and current shows.
 

MattKing

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Brooks Jenning's "Looking at Images"

I expect you mean Brooks Jensen's "Looking at Images" - which was what I was going to suggest.
 
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ymc226

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ICP has a nice gallery, they have two shows coming up later this month. MoMA has an extensive photography collection, check to see if anything is up. While you were at Bergamot, you should have checked out Danziger (currently showing Francesca Woodman, Lora Webb Nichols and George Lang) and Galerie XII across the way. Union Station downtown has an interesting show on the construction of the underground Metro lines. Galleries generally exhibit a combination of analog and digital work, but will state the print medium on the label or the sell sheet. Also, next time your daughter is in Southern California, the Getty Center has a wing dedicated to photography shows and if you venture out farther there is the California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside and the Museum of Photographic Art in Balboa Park (San Diego). Always check first for opening hours and days and current shows.

Thank you Pieter, I will take her to the Danziger and Galerie XII the next time she returns home. We were at the Getty back during the Summer but the Photography section was closed due to renovations unfortunately. I will let her know about ICP and MoMA.
 

MurrayMinchin

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I have limited experience of visiting big city galleries but have found that if you show genuine interest and ask questions formed by knowledge of the medium, the staff will find the time to help you out.

In one gallery I was taken into a back room where they started opening drawer after drawer containing photographs from all the Big Names of photography. The one which knocked my socks off was a B&W photograph by Wynn Bullock of driftwood & surf that I had never seen before.

At another gallery the person behind the counter told me the artist wasn't available, but after a bit of conversation and a couple questions she said, "Wait here a minute" and came back with the artist to have a chat with me.

As to advice on viewing photos...visit all kinds of galleries and prowl libraries. Oh, and a photograph should speak for itself...if it takes someone from the gallery 5 minutes of 'art-speak' to explain it, then it's destined for the art-as-investment crowd.
 

Mike Lopez

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In another thread about photo magazines, Brooks Jensen's "Looking at Images" was recommended as a way to learn how to evaluate photographs. Are there other books that one would suggest?
Looking At Photographs, by John Szarkowski, is almost certain to open your daughter’s eyes to the world of pictures and how one very distinguished museum curator looked at them.

Additionally, any of Szarkwoski’s writings on the photographs of Eugene Atget are worth the price of admission. Szarkowski was a champion of Atget’s work and had plenty of fresh and brilliant things to say about it.
 
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ymc226

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Looking At Photographs, by John Szarkowski, is almost certain to open your daughter’s eyes to the world of pictures and how one very distinguished museum curator looked at them.

Additionally, any of Szarkwoski’s writings on the photographs of Eugene Atget are worth the price of admission. Szarkowski was a champion of Atget’s work and had plenty of fresh and brilliant things to say about it.

In that vein, Robert Adam's books, Art Can Help, Why People Photograph and Beauty in Photography are all great.
Thank you both. I might even get these for myself so I have something pertinent to discuss with her in the future.
 

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I think the advice of going to as many galleries as possible to see works in person is the right thing to do. Every person will have their own ideas, preferences and intuition on what they like, it's not really something that can be taught, especially in an academic setting. One would only get the teacher's opinion of what they like, what they look for.

It's best to go out and shoot some photos too, that's where experience comes from. As for evaluating the works, it always comes down to what someone personally likes, what resonates w/ them. But really, seeing a lot of different types of works will do the trick.

When I moved from New Orleans to San Francisco, I just couldn't listen to modern jazz. Coltrane sounded like a cacophony of atonal noise, as did Monk. That's because I was steeped in traditional jazz, it was all I had been exposed to. My father was a pianist who couldn't get it either. But with more exposure to the modern music that was played on KPOO and KJAZ I finally got it. I love listening to it now, it's still cutting edge. The melody and especially the rhythm are often between the notes, not necessarily the notes themselves.
 
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ymc226

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ymc226

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I think the advice of going to as many galleries as possible to see works in person is the right thing to do. Every person will have their own ideas, preferences and intuition on what they like, it's not really something that can be taught, especially in an academic setting. One would only get the teacher's opinion of what they like, what they look for.

It's best to go out and shoot some photos too, that's where experience comes from. As for evaluating the works, it always comes down to what someone personally likes, what resonates w/ them. But really, seeing a lot of different types of works will do the trick.

When I moved from New Orleans to San Francisco, I just couldn't listen to modern jazz. Coltrane sounded like a cacophony of atonal noise, as did Monk. That's because I was steeped in traditional jazz, it was all I had been exposed to. My father was a pianist who couldn't get it either. But with more exposure to the modern music that was played on KPOO and KJAZ I finally got it. I love listening to it now, it's still cutting edge. The melody and especially the rhythm are often between the notes, not necessarily the notes themselves.

That is great advice. I just dropped her off at LAX to return to NYC this morning. Her winter break was unusually long in spite of the recent strike at the New School. We did go to the Huntington to shoot some pictures on film yesterday which she always enjoys. The desert garden really inspired her.
 

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Can’t really recommend Fotografiska.
They were boring and seemed to harbour an overall woke agenda, from the exhibition when I was there in august and looking at past and current ones.
Very typical of a particular brand of current Swedish pop culture really.
 
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jtk

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I think the advice of going to as many galleries as possible to see works in person is the right thing to do. Every person will have their own ideas, preferences and intuition on what they like, it's not really something that can be taught, especially in an academic setting. One would only get the teacher's opinion of what they like, what they look for.

It's best to go out and shoot some photos too, that's where experience comes from. As for evaluating the works, it always comes down to what someone personally likes, what resonates w/ them. But really, seeing a lot of different types of works will do the trick.

When I moved from New Orleans to San Francisco, I just couldn't listen to modern jazz. Coltrane sounded like a cacophony of atonal noise, as did Monk. That's because I was steeped in traditional jazz, it was all I had been exposed to. My father was a pianist who couldn't get it either. But with more exposure to the modern music that was played on KPOO and KJAZ I finally got it. I love listening to it now, it's still cutting edge. The melody and especially the rhythm are often between the notes, not necessarily the notes themselves.

Excellent! I always loved the sadly departed KJAZ, KPOO did a lot of creative stuff both culturally and politically.

Hard to imagine a young woman who would avoid a gallery based on the advice of her parent... it's also hard to imagine a parent who sends the kid off to a photo school in NYC before said kid has already learned more than her parent about photo art.
 

MurrayMinchin

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Also, fwiw, Parsons describes itself as a school of DESIGN and fashion, therefore it would be unlikely to invest in studies centered on either photography (in general) or analog (in particular).

Scroll down the page a bit...they offer a BFA in photography.

I chose to take a fine arts program to become a better photographer.

My entrance portfolio was 4x5 contact prints made in the library darkroom of a small local college. The fine arts program allowed me in on the basis of my compositions but told me my printing needed work, which was true. I took the same contact prints to the head of the photography program and he said my compositions were weak, but that my printing was good.

My takeaway...choosing fine arts as a foundation to being a photographer was a good choice.
 

TheFlyingCamera

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Another place in NY not to overlook for photography is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They regularly have two different photography exhibits mounted at any one time; one usually of vintage/early photography and another of 20th-21st century photographs. The Guggenheim also shows photography, but don't assume they have anything up at any given time- check their website for current shows. Ditto the Whitney - they show photography, but not always. For commercial galleries to check out, Throckmorton and Bonni Benrubi both show primarily photography (Throckmorton also does Asian/Latin American art in general, but their prime focus is photography).
 

btaylor

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The fine arts program allowed me in on the basis of my compositions but told me my printing needed work, which was true. I took the same contact prints to the head of the photography program and he said my compositions were weak, but that my printing was good.

OMG. Love this, so true. Nobody really "knows" anything about fine art. It is what it is. You connect or you don't. Good luck to ymc226's daughter, I hope she finds what she is looking for in the fine art photography world and her place within it.
 
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ymc226

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Scroll down the page a bit...they offer a BFA in photography.

I chose to take a fine arts program to become a better photographer.

My entrance portfolio was 4x5 contact prints made in the library darkroom of a small local college. The fine arts program allowed me in on the basis of my compositions but told me my printing needed work, which was true. I took the same contact prints to the head of the photography program and he said my compositions were weak, but that my printing was good.

My takeaway...choosing fine arts as a foundation to being a photographer was a good choice.

Another place in NY not to overlook for photography is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They regularly have two different photography exhibits mounted at any one time; one usually of vintage/early photography and another of 20th-21st century photographs. The Guggenheim also shows photography, but don't assume they have anything up at any given time- check their website for current shows. Ditto the Whitney - they show photography, but not always. For commercial galleries to check out, Throckmorton and Bonni Benrubi both show primarily photography (Throckmorton also does Asian/Latin American art in general, but their prime focus is photography).

OMG. Love this, so true. Nobody really "knows" anything about fine art. It is what it is. You connect or you don't. Good luck to ymc226's daughter, I hope she finds what she is looking for in the fine art photography world and her place within it.

Thank you all for the support and recommendations. My daughter continues to be very excited and passionate about her goals in art and photography. In high school and before, she was trying to follow in her older brother and sister's academic footsteps but it was not for her and was making her very unhappy. She even transferred to a very academic boarding school in spite of our reservations.
 

MurrayMinchin

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My dad was a chemical engineer. Sometimes the apple falls, then rolls away to enjoy the view.
 

jtk

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Scroll down the page a bit...they offer a BFA in photography.

I chose to take a fine arts program to become a better photographer.

My entrance portfolio was 4x5 contact prints made in the library darkroom of a small local college. The fine arts program allowed me in on the basis of my compositions but told me my printing needed work, which was true. I took the same contact prints to the head of the photography program and he said my compositions were weak, but that my printing was good.

My takeaway...choosing fine arts as a foundation to being a photographer was a good choice.

Interesting thoughts. I wonder if the OT recognizes the daughter's intentions, and I wonder what caused her to select Parsons,...did it have to do with the photographer, whose strange work dominates Parsons website?
 
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MurrayMinchin

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Interesting thoughts. I wonder if the OT recognizes the daughter's intentions, and I wonder what caused her to select Parsons,...did it have to do with the photographer, whose strange work dominates Parsons website?
Here's a quote for you...

"The most interesting path between two points is not a straight line"

...which is what I learned from our daughter when she was a toddler.

Give them some space...they'll figure it all out in their own time & fashion 👍👍
 

Helge

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Here's a quote for you...

"The most interesting path between two points is not a straight line"

...which is what I learned from our daughter when she was a toddler.

Give them some space...they'll figure it all out in their own time & fashion 👍👍

That’s not for certain. That is survivors bias talking.
It’s perfectly possible to fool around for an awful long time and never really get anywhere other than see your own footprints.
Or outright paint yourself into a corner.
The greatest gift you can give is to teach how to use other peoples experience, how and when.
Learning to learn.
 

jtk

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IMO AND FWIW....

Its not helpful to use maximalist terminology ("for certain" "greatest gift" etc) when discussing anything, particularly aesthetics and education and child rearing.

One great gift would be "Alfred Stieglitz Camera Work" ... full of beautiful images, mostly printed for reproduction by Alfred Stieglitz himself. It's especially valuable IMO because we spend so much time worrying about modern tech (such as Kodak Paper and the lenses we lust for and images presented to us online) and almost never do we see foundational photograpic beauty, like that in this affordable Taschen book.
 
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