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Author Topic: Collecting Art  (Read 10836 times)

LesPalenik

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Collecting Art
« on: November 17, 2017, 10:36:47 pm »

Great essay, with many interesting ideas. Thank you, Alain
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farbschlurf

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2017, 03:50:12 am »

I enjoyed reading the article, too. The essayistic style with personal notes is nice. Looking forward for the 2nd part.
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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2017, 04:41:20 am »

Alain, if I am to take your opening paragraphs literally, the reasons you were unhappy with your black and whites are obvious: you shouldn't try to print with a red safelight - it's not for papers but for line film. You will never see a realistic tonality under such an illumination: RTFM for the papers! Also, you mention changing to different grades as a solution to a regular unhappiness: you don't do that as a routine choice of preferences, you do it to suit the individual negative and how you want a particular print to look. Thirdly, the feeling I get because of your concern with drying down changes is that you were not using glossy paper and glazing it. Use anything else and you lose much of the possible photographic tonality within any negative. Lastly, and unforgivably, you may have been making a hash of your exposure and development of the negative. (I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and assume you knew how to read a series of paper test strips!)

There is no intrinsic reason why black/white printing should have been beyond you, insofar as printing went; that has no bearing on the subject matter which is another thing altogether.

Printing in black and white was an art in itself, and took a lot of printing time to understand beyond the quick, instinctive first impressions that a darkroom can give you. In my own case, I thought I was a good printer (I made my own amateur's darkroom in the loft) until I managed to get my first pro job and realised that I knew far less about printing than anyone else in the unit's darkroom; they soon disabused me of my arrogance! After about six or seven years there I finally did know something about the process, which was just as well, for after that I went solo.

Rob
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 04:45:26 am by Rob C »
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Pete Berry

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2017, 02:45:27 pm »

Alain, if I am to take your opening paragraphs literally, the reasons you were unhappy with your black and whites are obvious: you shouldn't try to print with a red safelight - it's not for papers but for line film. You will never see a realistic tonality under such an illumination: RTFM for the papers! Also, you mention changing to different grades as a solution to a regular unhappiness: you don't do that as a routine choice of preferences, you do it to suit the individual negative and how you want a particular print to look. Thirdly, the feeling I get because of your concern with drying down changes is that you were not using glossy paper and glazing it. Use anything else and you lose much of the possible photographic tonality within any negative. Lastly, and unforgivably, you may have been making a hash of your exposure and development of the negative. (I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and assume you knew how to read a series of paper test strips!)

There is no intrinsic reason why black/white printing should have been beyond you, insofar as printing went; that has no bearing on the subject matter which is another thing altogether.

Printing in black and white was an art in itself, and took a lot of printing time to understand beyond the quick, instinctive first impressions that a darkroom can give you. In my own case, I thought I was a good printer (I made my own amateur's darkroom in the loft) until I managed to get my first pro job and realised that I knew far less about printing than anyone else in the unit's darkroom; they soon disabused me of my arrogance! After about six or seven years there I finally did know something about the process, which was just as well, for after that I went solo.

Rob

Haysus Kristos, Rob, "RTFM" indeed! Alain is talking about way back in his history, where he eventually found that the complex "art in itself" of B/W printing wasn't his thing. Your dismissive and frankly insulting comment is way over the top, with the mindset of a wannabe Olympian god dropping in on and castigating his mere imperfect mortals coming to mind.

A deep red safelight has been used for eons for printing with the traditional B/W papers, which are sensitive to only the G & B spectrum. So how do you load and position your paper, then develop it, where it was pretty essential in my 30 year past experience to see WTF you're doing? And what is this "line film" that's not red-sensitive? Google's no help here, and every B/W 35mm film I've used required pitch-black to cannister-load for developing. Maybe you CAN somehow print in the dark...but your superior, dismissive assumptions and attitude eclipse any illumination you may have proffered.

Pete

I should have added that I enjoyed Briot's article very much, and have enjoyed collecting some lesser to un-knowns that intrigued me.

If you have stumbled upon great wealth recently,  http://www.willemphotographic.com/artists.html  in downtown Monterey, CA has one of the world's largest B/W original print collections  from nearly 300 photographers, with the conspicuous absence of A.A. and Wynn Bullock, but with four gens. of Westons, some of HCB's most iconic, Steichen's from the 20's, etc.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 08:32:52 pm by Pete Berry »
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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2017, 05:06:55 am »

Well, Peter, I'm talking way back in my own history, too: I started in professional photography back in 1960, which is probably further back in personal and relative times than did Alain.

Please don't tell me about darkroom procedure; I earned my crust in those places for, literally, decades and then managed to escape the dark art for the brighter one of Kodachrome.

Line film: for making high contrast negatives of print (in the sense of writing or line drawing) and similar original metarials. It came in sheets which you handled and developed under a red safelight. It could be used for anything, experimentally, where you wanted to lose mid-tones and have just black/white.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purkinje_effect

The above - from Wiki, so yes, Dr Google is your friend if you speak to him nicely - will give you an idea of why Kodak and Ilford recommended the colour of darkroom safelight that they did. Darkrook vision and, consequently, filter recommendation is not governed solely by paper safety: it is also governed by how the human eye adapts to the different forms of illumination within the paper's safety margins.

As to your question of how one handles paper under anything but a red safelight: in exactly the same manner, except that using the paper manufacturers' recommended yelllow/green/amber variations allow your eyes and brain to see the developing print more closely to the manner that those same human tools will perceive it in daylight.

I never did state you could not use a red safelinght. I indicated that nobody in his right mind does that, ignoring the paper makers' advice, and making life difficult where it need not be.

As for trying to stand on Mt O - disabuse yourself: I did that back in '60 when I got into this business (and remained in it the rest of my career) and within days learned that I knew nothing, relatively speaking. Do you own a mirror, by the way? ;-)

I am not dismissive of Alain and neither am I in awe. As artist he has his style and, if it sells, good for him. That's the name of the game.

Rob
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 05:11:46 am by Rob C »
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KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2017, 07:50:20 am »

I've been buying the work of artists ever since I left art college in 1970. I've always bought for the love of the work without so much as a thought of buying for investment. The pieces have inevitably influenced my own work as a painter, illustrator and photographer and although the purchases have been eclectic - ranging from Moroccan and Algerian pottery, naïve paintings, African artefacts and Cornish contemporary ceramics - I can see a commonality (is that a word or an Americanism?) between them all.

I've never bought a photograph and have no interest in so doing, I won't even put my own photographs on my walls. As to whether this is because I don't see the photograph as a work of art or see it as a poor relation to the other art forms that I do admire and buy, well, I haven't a clue and to be honest haven't much interest in exploring, but perhaps it's that love of the work, or lack of it, thang (another Americanism?).
 

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2017, 08:57:17 am »

I've been buying the work of artists ever since I left art college in 1970. I've always bought for the love of the work without so much as a thought of buying for investment. The pieces have inevitably influenced my own work as a painter, illustrator and photographer and although the purchases have been eclectic - ranging from Moroccan and Algerian pottery, naïve paintings, African artefacts and Cornish contemporary ceramics - I can see a commonality (is that a word or an Americanism?) between them all.

I've never bought a photograph and have no interest in so doing, I won't even put my own photographs on my walls. As to whether this is because I don't see the photograph as a work of art or see it as a poor relation to the other art forms that I do admire and buy, well, I haven't a clue and to be honest haven't much interest in exploring, but perhaps it's that love of the work, or lack of it, thang (another Americanism?).
 

Keith, you have just described the only valid reason for buying an "art piece" (US-derivate term too?). Everything else is a perversion of the art - or at least insofar as the honest mind is concerned. I intentionally exclude the investment factor, which in many ways, can be an artificial arbiter of values - relative ones, should relativity in art make any sense at all.

I'm sitting on the terrace on a sunny Mallorcan afternoon, deep in the shade of the toldo, having enjoyed (for once) my own version of an Inspector Montalbano lunch; the music through the 'phones is swamp pop rock - (what else is new?) and I question yet again my partly altruistic reasons for trying to sell... of course, come sundown, and my testes will freeze.

Problems or questions of whether art is art, whether or not somebody chooses the masochistic route or red in his safelight of choice really do appear to dip into the absurd. How fortunate the happy dentist/lawyer/accountant with nothing to concern him beyond the name of his next cocktail-to-try, which Sunday Times restaurant to check out next week.

But could that have made me happy. Wish I knew - maybe better not knowing.

;-(

Rob
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 09:26:14 am by Rob C »
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KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2017, 09:09:32 am »

Keith, you have just described the only valid reason for buying an "art piece" (US-derivate term too?). Everything else is a perversion of the art - or at least insofar as the honest mind is concerned. I intentionally exclude the investment factor, which in many ways, can be an artificial arbiter of values - relative ones, should relativity in art make any sense at all.

I'm sitting on the terrace on a sunny Mallorcan afternoon, deep in the shade of the toldo, having enjoyed (for once) my own version of an Inspector Montalbano lunch; the music through the 'phones is swamp pop rock - (what else is new?) and I question yet again my partly altruistic reasons for trying to sell... of course, come sundown, and my testes will freeze.

Problems or questions of whether art is art, whether or not somebody chooses the masochistic route or red in his safelight of choice really do appear to dip into the absurd. How fortunate the happy dentist/lawyer/accountant with nothing to concern him beyond the name of his next cocktail-to-try, which Sunday Times restaurant to check out next week.

But could that have made me happy.

;-(

Rob

Or which veblen optical device to buy next?

;-)

petermfiore

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2017, 09:10:04 am »


But could that have made me happy.

;-(

Rob
NO...Me Too

Peter

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2017, 09:49:58 am »

Keith, Peter - the wider world willl never understand us. My muse asked me if I'd shoot her wedding. I refused, for a plethora of reasons, and she laughed, remarking "you never do this for the money, do you?"

To an extent, she was right. I did need the money, but if I was going to make it through photography, it had to be photography I wanted to do. Anything else made me a whore. It took a moment of revelation to make me understand it, long before she asked. It was a big decision made in an instant: she came from Scottish high-society and the gig would have spun a lot of cash.

In the film "La Grande Bellezza" the main character, Jep Gambarella remarks: "the most important thing I discovered after turning sixty-five is that I can't waste time doing things I don't want to do."

Thankfully, I knew that by thirty.

As another kindred soul, Saul, remarked: "why would anyone spend their life doing something they don't want to do?" He paid the price too, right until he reached a ripe old age when the galleristas found him...

Rob

petermfiore

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2017, 10:06:09 am »

HI Rob, Keith,

Doing work that I wanted to do entered my life early on...when I was 30. However I was an illustrator raising a family. I could have made much more money doing work, that in all honesty, made me gag. Other people's ideas can truly kill one's soul. Since the age of 40 it's painting on my terms.

Happily covered in paint,
Peter

KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2017, 01:04:00 pm »

Rob, Peter, I concur.

I started my career as a freelance illustrator working in publishing, loved the work and had a very high degree of freedom and control. Typically I was given a book or an article to read and asked to deliver my own interpretation. I was working hard, the money was so so but at the time I wanted more. I swapped over to the advertising world where the money was incredible but the freedom and control went out the window. When working the pressure was constant and when I wasn't the pressure was still constant. It took it's toll. Eventually I switched to photography but swore I would always do my own thing and on my own terms.

We learn the hard way.

petermfiore

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2017, 01:13:24 pm »

Rob, Peter, I concur.

I started my career as a freelance illustrator working in publishing, loved the work and had a very high degree of freedom and control. Typically I was given a book or an article to read and asked to deliver my own interpretation. I was working hard, the money was so so but at the time I wanted more. I swapped over to the advertising world where the money was incredible but the freedom and control went out the window. When working the pressure was constant and when I wasn't the pressure was still constant. It took it's toll. Eventually I switched to photography but swore I would always do my own thing and on my own terms.

We learn the hard way.


Hard or not, not all learn. But, perhaps not all have the need.

Peter

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2017, 01:35:01 pm »


Hard or not, not all learn. But, perhaps not all have the need.

Peter


Need. That's an interesting thought. It's also why many fail to understand why others are willing to pay the price.

My wife's father ran a successful surveying business, and though we got along reasonably well, he couldn't understand why I wouldn't do everything that came along; I recall him saying that to him, whether he was measuring a palace or a shithouse was the same: the money had no scruples and looked exactly the same to the bank. Of course, he was right - for himself. To me, it did matter, a great deal. Thank God his daughter was happy enough with where we were at. Happy - she helped every step of the way where she was able, never once suggested we could have done better. That alone is enough to make somebody love somebody!

But yes, even within a specific occupation there are ever those who do it because they can, and those because they are driven to do it. The latter usually have no further choice to make but dedicate 100%.

:-)

Rob

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2017, 04:38:39 pm »

I feel very lucky in that I was able to make a good living doing something I both enjoyed and was skilled at. And that I always chose my employers rather than the other way ‘round. Nonetheless I stopped as soon as I was able to afford it. This has given me more time and opportunity for the things that really matter: experiences and relationships.

-Dave-
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Pete Berry

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2017, 01:04:00 am »

Well, Peter, I'm talking way back in my own history, too: I started in professional photography back in 1960, which is probably further back in personal and relative times than did Alain.

Please don't tell me about darkroom procedure; I earned my crust in those places for, literally, decades and then managed to escape the dark art for the brighter one of Kodachrome.
your
Line film: for making high contrast negatives of print (in the sense of writing or line drawing) and similar original metarials. It came in sheets which you handled and developed under a red safelight. It could be used for anything, experimentally, where you wanted to lose mid-tones and have just black/white.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purkinje_effect

The above - from Wiki, so yes, Dr Google is your friend if you speak to him nicely - will give you an idea of why Kodak and Ilford recommended the colour of darkroom safelight that they did. Darkrook vision and, consequently, filter recommendation is not governed solely by paper safety: it is also governed by how the human eye adapts to the different forms of illumination within the paper's safety margins.

As to your question of how one handles paper under anything but a red safelight: in exactly the same manner, except that using the paper manufacturers' recommended yelllow/green/amber variations allow your eyes and brain to see the developing print more closely to the manner that those same human tools will perceive it in daylight.

I never did state you could not use a red safelinght. I indicated that nobody in his right mind does that, ignoring the paper makers' advice, and making life difficult where it need not be.

As for trying to stand on Mt O - disabuse yourself: I did that back in '60 when I got into this business (and remained in it the rest of my career) and within days learned that I knew nothing, relatively speaking. Do you own a mirror, by the way? ;-)

I am not dismissive of Alain and neither am I in awe. As artist he has his style and, if it sells, good for him. That's the name of the game.

Rob
Gawd, Rob, you're prob. even older than I am, staring 78 in the face! Thanks for your considered response and clarification of your red filter comments. But I think, if presented in your original comment, it would have been much more instructive and less pejorative.

I do have a quibbling question about your injecting Dr. Purkinje into the conversation (to whom I had a fleeting exposure in '62 first year med. school Physiology). Since his well documented Effect is a color shift of green toward blue in low ambient light, how does this relate to the viewing of a monochromatic B/W image which we view with primarily scotopic vision from the non-color sensing retinal rod cells? I can see that the wider bandwidth of an amber/brown filter will pass substantially more light than the narrower deep red, making for brighter ambient lighting for a brighter view of the developing print, but also an increased poss. of paper fogging with a too strong or close light source. And consulting Dr. Wiki again,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safelight  he/she seems quite agnostic about red vs. amber/brown safelights with B/W photo paper.

The one thing we do know for sure is that the human eye is a marvelously adaptable organ to drastic light level changes. Maybe the legion of we who printed to our satisfaction under red safelights in ignorance of the F'ing manual would have had an easier time had we read it. But we would still have to do the test strips, and would the prints be any 'better"? I doubt it...

About the Gods thingy, I don't think I've risen to more than demi-god level since retirement from the MD/God days of years ago, and this reached only every now and then under the influence of a mind-expanding potion, such as the generous portion of the Oban 14 year single malt I'm enjoying now!

Pete

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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2017, 04:29:04 am »

Peter, I can't discuss Purkinge on your level (I only know what worked out in a darkroom from years of doing it) - I'd need to consult my medical granddaughter on that, but she's more interested in obstetrics and my daughter has told me in the past that the girl's one dislike is eyes! Apparently, she delights in surgery. I have no idea where that comes from, as until my own heart problems the very thought of a hypodermic was enough to floor me. Now, I couldn't care less about them. And to think that I denied myself the choice of shooting in the Seychelles because I didn't fancy facing yellow fever shots... oh well, the Bahamas were a nice aternative too, though I never found those special rocks, of course. ;-(

You must have been born just after David Bailey and myself... he's one of the comforts of old age: it comes to us all, if we survive! Got to say, his continued activity is an inspiration.

Ciao -

Rob
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 12:30:38 pm by Rob C »
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GrahamBy

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2017, 06:26:17 am »

Since his well documented Effect is a color shift of green toward blue in low ambient light,

My understanding is that it's a general shift of sensitivity towards the blue... so in particular, sensitivity to red is diminished in low light (as demonstrated by the geranium example in the wiki safelight page).

So, a given (small) number of lumens will enable better vision if it is more towards blue, and less towards red. Greeny-red amber is about as far as you can go towards blue without fogging blue-sensitive paper. Ergo, red is sub-optimal for looking at prints in low-light: everything will look rather dull. Under an amber safelight the high tones in a B&W print really seem to shine...

I have to say I immediately suspect anyone talking about red safelights as never actually having worked in adarkroom, and to have taken their impression from watching movies.

But hey, I wasn't even born until '62... :)
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GrahamBy

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2017, 12:14:47 pm »

Getting back to the subject... I don't buy (groan) the argument for collecting art to improve your own. It's certainly important to look at a lot of art, which might be facilitated by buying art books or prints of paintings or jpg's off the internet. If you only look at what you can afford to buy, I'd say your art appreciation is seriously sub-optimal.
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KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2017, 01:20:07 pm »

Perhaps unsurprising, but I tend to buy art which in some way resonates with my own, but often don't see this resonance until some time after the event.

For example This series and The work of one of my favourite ceramicists, Sam Hall.

The series Found Paintings came first followed many years later by my admiration for Sam Hall's work. But it wasn't until after I'd bought a couple of pieces that I recognised the resonance.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 03:13:51 pm by KLaban »
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