history of conceptual photography


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To hear the artists tell it, photography was only useful or interesting to them insofar as it was instrumental in conveying or recording their ideas. Discover (and save!) Perspective correction cuts to the heart of conventionalized photographic space and undermines our confidence in the transparency of the photographic index. For him, the limitation upon the medium’s artistic potential was its indexicality (although it was not a term he used himself). When interviewed about his work of this period, Dibbets described it as developing out of his troubled relationship with painting and the fixed viewing angle required by most canvases. At the same time, their work has a formal component, relying explicitly on meanings produced within the pictures themselves. Conceptual artists often conceived their works in reaction to Greenberg’s writing on formalist painting. “Time” also becomes a formal category for Szarkowski; it refers to the lines and shapes created in the composition at the moment of exposure. While the former worked in opposition to Greenberg’s formalist scheme for painting, and the latter were influenced by Szarkowski’s version of photographic formalism, together they demonstrated that medium specificity for photography could encompass both images and ideas. (19) The critic reads this as a sign of genius, but we could also understand it as a surrender of control, especially given the extraneous fact that Winogrand often let curators select works themselves from his mountains of contact sheets. Since the invention of the photographic camera, artists have explored it as a means to stage a false reality, or capture an idea. While Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) curator Beaumont Newhall had begun to develop a formalist theory of photography in the 1930s, relying in particular on a binary opposition between tone and detail, he was replaced by Edward Steichen after World War II. John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966), p. 12. 13. 75-88. In her case, however, self-portraiture does not point toward the photographer’s own subjectivity, but rather to a gendered critique of the gaze. Yet the piece is clearly photographic as well as painterly, as is clear from Oppenheim’s reference to exposure time. The Last Francis Bacon Interview – On Violence, Meat and Photography, Ed van der Elsken – “Love on the Left Bank” (1954), Lee Friedlander Puts Your Selfies to Shame, Gregory Halpern On Documentary Ethics – Preoccupations, Subjectivity and Untruths (2013), Jean-Michel Basquiat and “The Art of (Dis)Empowerment” (2000), Saul Leiter’s Color Street Photography – The Palette of NYC. In effect, the artist is using the book and the sun to create a photogram on his body. Viewers unfamiliar with Dibbets’s perspective corrections often assume that they are manipulated or montaged photographs. PHOTOGRAPHY Jeff Wall, “‘Marks of Indifference’: Aspects of Photography in, or as, Conceptual Art,” in Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer, eds., Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-75 (Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1995), p. 247. Baldessari borrows the format of the image with its caption from photography “how-to” manuals, using the convention of “right” and “wrong” illustrations to skew formulaic art school aesthetics. The image was made by coating the canvas with photoemulsion and projecting a 35mm negative directly onto it in the darkroom. As we know, however, the intentions of artists and the historical effects of their work are rarely synonymous. Greenberg’s own position on photography was dismissive; he only wrote one extended piece on photography – a scathing review of a 1946 Edward Weston exhibition. Szarkowski laid out his approach in 1966, in a brief but highly influential eponymous catalog essay for the exhibition “The Photographer’s Eye.” In it he distills the photographic medium to five properties: “The Thing Itself,” “The Detail,” “The Frame,” “Time” and “Vantage Point.” He defines “The Thing Itself” as the actual, the presence of reality in the photograph, what is called the index. Winogrand and Friedlander simultaneously fetishize and collapse form in their photographs. A practicing photographer, she has published two artist’s books, Obsessive Love (1994) and Art Theory Made Me Cry (1995). 1. Text and photographs participate in the production of the work’s meaning, but the existence of that form is repeatedly repressed or denied. The former refers to the edges of each image and the resulting geometric patterns created within the picture, while the latter describes the spatial relationship between camera and subject. William Eggleston: Who’s Afraid of Magenta, Yellow and Cyan? Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” of the late 1970s, for example, interrogate the conditions of photography from both angles. 87-103. 8 (Spring 1979), pp. Clement Greenberg, “The Camera’s Glass Eye: Review of an Exhibition of Edward Weston,” in John O’Brian, ed., Clement Greenberg, Collected Essays and Criticism, Vol.

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