What is "Fine Art"?

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Sirius Glass

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Fine art versus art discussions are what one spend time discussing at work rather than working or one spends time rather than talking with the spouse. Just a waste of bandwidth.
 

Ian Grant

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Just that we all use labels (and film = cinema to some). You have labeled the label 'Art" as meaningless. It's your right and it's cool. But IRL, labels are just a part of the shorthand that makes communication easier and possible between people who want to communicate thoughts and ideas. If needed, one asks for a definition of a label someone uses for a better understanding without insisting that they use one's own definition.

For some, such as myself, the print is not the end result to be put away in a box. It is the interaction between the image/print and the photographer, and to take it one step further, the interaction between the print and the viewer that can be considered part of the end result. But that is just one way of approaching photography. YMMD.


I'd add the image/print might also be part of the viewer's interaction between within a series, maybe on a book or exhibition.

Personally, I think worrying about these labels is a waste of time, attitudes to photography as Art vary so wildly, depending on where you come from. By that I mean country as well as regions.

Read Dialogue with Photography, Paul Hill & Thomas Joshua Cooper. (T J Cooper & Vaughn were students together). Make your own minds up, there's no hard and fast definition, just opinions.

Ian
 

VinceInMT

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Fine art versus art discussions are what one spend time discussing at work rather than working or one spends time rather than talking with the spouse. Just a waste of bandwidth.

And yet he chooses to contribute to what he identifies as a waste…..
 

Sirius Glass

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And yet he chooses to contribute to what he identifies as a waste…..

As do you. :smile:

This thread has gotten long in the tooth and little useful or meaningful has been posted very often.
 

MattKing

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As do you. :smile:

This thread has gotten long in the tooth and little useful or meaningful has been posted very often.

I miss having the thread tool that would tell me who had posted to a thread and how many times they posted :whistling:.
 

Sirius Glass

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I miss having the thread tool that would tell me who had posted to a thread and how many times they posted :whistling:.

You have Sean's ear, make it happen!
rotfl.jpg
 

MattKing

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As do you. :smile:

This thread has gotten long in the tooth and little useful or meaningful has been posted very often.

You might want to check now how many times you have posted here :whistling:
 

Sirius Glass

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You might want to check now how many times you have posted here :whistling:

About as many as you. :wink: All siriusness aside, many were posted to pull legs and that is why many readers are walking around with one leg longer than the other.
 
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MattKing

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I fail to see how communication is easier when labels like "art" or "artist" are so arbitrary, personal and subjective. Why get into a argument whereby one person says a print or a photographer is art or an artist when another person considers the same print rubbish or the photographer pedestrian? I just find the whole exercise a complete waste of time.

Take Mapplethorpe for example. I happen to think of him as one of the most important photographers of the last 50 years. He captured an era perfectly and with great photos. Another person may not be able to get past their moral baggage and label him a pornographer. In each others minds our positions are equally valid. No one is right and no one is wrong.

I once tried to read Sontag's book and found it unreadable, other people think of it as a literary and philosophical masterpiece. Who is right? All we have is our opinions.

I read Sontag's book On Photography. A hodgepodge. Can't remember the point she was making if she was making one. Art is is the eye of the beholder, in the end. If it does something to you mentally or spiritually, then it's art. The art I like may not be the art you like. That's OK. Some people like Jazz, others opera.
 

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sad clowns, big eye'd kids, puppys kittens or ecclesiastical / inspirational photos don't move me but plenty of people call that art, and I guess maybe it is, maybe even fine art. interesting idea about jazz or opera but people who don't like either still agree that they are both forms of music. music is sound (or the absence of it) and photography is light (or the absence of it)
 
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Sean Mac

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A hundred years ago Stieglitz and his friends spent a lot of time asking questions about photography and it's relationship to Art.

Here in 2022 the word Art is really beyond a definition.

A lot of work went into escaping imposed restrictions.

I think that makes the question meaningless.
 

Ian Grant

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I read Sontag's book On Photography. A hodgepodge. Can't remember the point she was making if she was making one. Art is is the eye of the beholder, in the end. If it does something to you mentally or spiritually, then it's art. The art I like may not be the art you like. That's OK. Some people like Jazz, others opera.

On Photography is a series of essays, it's Sontag's musings on some of the uses of photography, but it doesn't look at all aspects, draws no conclusions. The book's importance is it lead the way for other and better writers, it was the same with John Berger's Ways of Seeing.

This thread reminds me of a talk I gave at Litchfield Photographic Society back in the 90's, I had already exhibited in Galleries, and curated a number of exhibitions. Litchfield is a small Cathedral City in the UK's West Midlands, it has a large photographic society, there were over a 100 people in the audience.

I had a heckler, I was talking about working shooting projects and series of work, with a view to exhibitions. The heckler repeatedly stated Galleries don't show photography. At the end it was time for questions, from the floor, but I asked if I could ask one first, I addressed the heckler asking if he'd heard of The Photographers Gallery in London, Impressions in York, Cornerhouse in Manchester, and a few more. He hadn't, there was a clap of hands as most had, it turned out he owned the local camera shop.

But the point is also it depends on how you are informed, at that point many of the better UK photo magazines listed the Gallery exhibitions.

Photography as Fine Art, Douglas Davis, is worth looking at.

Ian
 

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The heckler repeatedly stated Galleries don't show photography. At the end it was time for questions, from the floor, but I asked if I could ask one first, I addressed the heckler asking if he'd heard of The Photographers Gallery in London, Impressions in York, Cornerhouse in Manchester, and a few more. He hadn't, there was a clap of hands as most had, it turned out he owned the local camera shop.

Just goes to show that some are stuck in their bubbles and have a limited knowledge of what is happening in the world. He was probably a good salesman and could have been selling tractors instead. But he probably could have made more sales if he knew more about the field of photography.
 

Vaughn

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I fail to see how communication is easier when labels like "art" or "artist" are so arbitrary, personal and subjective. Why get into a argument whereby one person says a print or a photographer is art or an artist when another person considers the same print rubbish or the photographer pedestrian? I just find the whole exercise a complete waste of time...

Well, art existed before words, so it is not surprising that words are not adaquate to define it in a nice neat objective manner. And it is difficult to believe that you find it a complete waste of time since you were attracted to and are spending time on a thread titled "What is Fine Art".

But, exactly...why get into an argument over things that cannot be objectively put in a correctly labeled box, like art? Instead, one can offer one's personal experience and viewpoints -- which is why I can accept the viewpoints that term 'art' is meaningless, and that it is highly meaningful. Both viewpoints are valid.

Ian -- I was a student of Thomas's back before he left for Scotland. Looking back, I realized that he did not show his work to his classes. Except for the prohibition of images of kittens and babies, he was more interested on what the students could bring. I was both kitten and child-free at the time, but it would have been interesting to have challenged him on that.
 

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jnamia

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I had a heckler, I was talking about working shooting projects and series of work, with a view to exhibitions. The heckler repeatedly stated Galleries don't show photography. At the end it was time for questions, from the floor, but I asked if I could ask one first, I addressed the heckler asking if he'd heard of The Photographers Gallery in London, Impressions in York, Cornerhouse in Manchester, and a few more. He hadn't, there was a clap of hands as most had, it turned out he owned the local camera shop.

I've been told things I make with light aren't photographs so I can see where he is coming from.
unfortunately the (art) world is full of (art) snobs and the converse, what can you do but attempt to turn it into an educational experience
I hope you engaged him in a conversation afterwards or stopped by his shoppe at some point to ask him what he thought photography was.
maybe his ideas are rigid, and only certain types of images are considered photographs. too many pigeon holes if you ask me
 
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TheFlyingCamera

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Well, art existed before words, so it is not surprising that words are not adaquate to define it in a nice neat objective manner. And it is difficult to believe that you find it a complete waste of time since you were attracted to and are spending time on a thread titled "What is Fine Art".

But, exactly...why get into an argument over things that cannot be objectively put in a correctly labeled box, like art? Instead, one can offer one's personal experience and viewpoints -- which is why I can accept the viewpoints that term 'art' is meaningless, and that it is highly meaningful. Both viewpoints are valid.

Ian -- I was a student of Thomas's back before he left for Scotland. Looking back, I realized that he did not show his work to his classes. Except for the prohibition of images of kittens and babies, he was more interested on what the students could bring. I was both kitten and child-free at the time, but it would have been interesting to have challenged him on that.
I don't know we can assert that art predates words - written language, perhaps, but not language as a whole. You needed a system of communication in order to produce art.

One of the big problems is that we're attempting to use language, which is in itself a symbolic abstract system, to try and describe, well, ANYTHING. It is at best an imprecise stand-in for the thing it claims to represent. Art gets closer, in a way, in that it has physical presence, and is therefore less abstract. Use the word bird as an example. If I say 'bird', you A: conjure up an image in your mind of a bird. But is it the bird I am thinking of when I say 'bird'? There are literally billions of birds on this planet as we speak. And I can get more specific and say "sparrow', but that still only narrows it down to tens of millions of birds. And we can continue narrowing it down until I say "the organism labeled a sparrow that weighs x grams, stands x millimeters tall, with y wingspan, and has the following DNA sequence: xxxxxxxxx". But then you think of the bird in a particular way, and that may not be the way I understand it, or even intended to understand it, in the aim of specificity. And the only way to know for sure that the bird I am looking at is the one I specified would be to kill it to derive a DNA sequence. So it's not very productive. So we accept a degree of abstraction and imprecision in linguistic communication in the sake of efficiency.

Art is still an abstract system of symbols, but it has the benefit of being physical - you can paint a painting of a thing, or take a photograph of it, or make a sculpture of it and then you have a physical representation of the object you want to discuss. But it presents a challenge in that the symbolic object (painting, photograph, sculpture) is in itself a distinct object with its own properties that make it wholly different from the thing it represents. So we get lost in language using one set of representational symbols to try and comprehend a different set of symbols with their own distinct set of rules and characteristics.
 

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"Art is that which cannot be reduced to rhetoric." Peter B. O'Sullivan said that.
 

Arthurwg

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Go to the MET Museum un New York. Look around. Most of what you see will be fine art.
 

Sean Mac

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I don't know we can assert that art predates words - written language, perhaps, but not language as a whole. You needed a system of communication in order to produce art.

One of the big problems is that we're attempting to use language, which is in itself a symbolic abstract system, to try and describe, well, ANYTHING. It is at best an imprecise stand-in for the thing it claims to represent. Art gets closer, in a way, in that it has physical presence, and is therefore less abstract. Use the word bird as an example. If I say 'bird', you A: conjure up an image in your mind of a bird. But is it the bird I am thinking of when I say 'bird'? There are literally billions of birds on this planet as we speak. And I can get more specific and say "sparrow', but that still only narrows it down to tens of millions of birds. And we can continue narrowing it down until I say "the organism labeled a sparrow that weighs x grams, stands x millimeters tall, with y wingspan, and has the following DNA sequence: xxxxxxxxx". But then you think of the bird in a particular way, and that may not be the way I understand it, or even intended to understand it, in the aim of specificity. And the only way to know for sure that the bird I am looking at is the one I specified would be to kill it to derive a DNA sequence. So it's not very productive. So we accept a degree of abstraction and imprecision in linguistic communication in the sake of efficiency.

Art is still an abstract system of symbols, but it has the benefit of being physical - you can paint a painting of a thing, or take a photograph of it, or make a sculpture of it and then you have a physical representation of the object you want to discuss. But it presents a challenge in that the symbolic object (painting, photograph, sculpture) is in itself a distinct object with its own properties that make it wholly different from the thing it represents. So we get lost in language using one set of representational symbols to try and comprehend a different set of symbols with their own distinct set of rules and characteristics.


The court case over Bird in Space by Brancusi in 1928 legally established non representational work as Art.

The Abstract Expressionists of the 1940's and 50's made non representational work.

Paint splashers or a conscious attempt to escape semantic thought?

Rothko's work is noted for producing profound emotional reactions in some viewers.

:smile:
 

jnamia

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Go to the MET Museum un New York. Look around. Most of what you see will be fine art.

couldn't agree more but ... to some people with a different taste for what is art and what isn't .. sadly it, as echo and the bunnymen sang it doesn't "cut the mustard"

I think its an interesting thing that one person might see something and point to it and say ART and another might look at that person like they were crazy.

someone told me "I like your work but I don't like the way you talk about it". it seems to be all about how people talk about it, or don't ...
a bike seat with handlebars isn't a bike seat with handlebars ... it's kind of genius if you ask me, whether it's art or fine art or what ...
 
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greg zinselmeier

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Why does anyone care anymore about the definition of “fine art” ? Seriously. Who cares? Are you gonna start making art work now to fit into your tidy definition?
 

greg zinselmeier

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I don't know we can assert that art predates words - written language, perhaps, but not language as a whole. You needed a system of communication in order to produce art.

One of the big problems is that we're attempting to use language, which is in itself a symbolic abstract system, to try and describe, well, ANYTHING. It is at best an imprecise stand-in for the thing it claims to represent. Art gets closer, in a way, in that it has physical presence, and is therefore less abstract. Use the word bird as an example. If I say 'bird', you A: conjure up an image in your mind of a bird. But is it the bird I am thinking of when I say 'bird'? There are literally billions of birds on this planet as we speak. And I can get more specific and say "sparrow', but that still only narrows it down to tens of millions of birds. And we can continue narrowing it down until I say "the organism labeled a sparrow that weighs x grams, stands x millimeters tall, with y wingspan, and has the following DNA sequence: xxxxxxxxx". But then you think of the bird in a particular way, and that may not be the way I understand it, or even intended to understand it, in the aim of specificity. And the only way to know for sure that the bird I am looking at is the one I specified would be to kill it to derive a DNA sequence. So it's not very productive. So we accept a degree of abstraction and imprecision in linguistic communication in the sake of efficiency.

Art is still an abstract system of symbols, but it has the benefit of being physical - you can paint a painting of a thing, or take a photograph of it, or make a sculpture of it and then you have a physical representation of the object you want to discuss. But it presents a challenge in that the symbolic object (painting, photograph, sculpture) is in itself a distinct object with its own properties that make it wholly different from the thing it represents. So we get lost in language using one set of representational symbols to try and comprehend a different set of symbols with their own distinct set of rules and characteristics.

You make some nice points
 
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