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Author Topic: Collecting Art  (Read 10844 times)

KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2017, 03:05:50 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.

I believe artists can be better served by looking in rather than looking at. Witness the amount of clowns clones to be seen here and there.

DougDolde

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2017, 03:31:59 pm »

Where's the article? I only see two short paragraphs. And yes I am logged in
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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2017, 03:52:58 pm »

I think it's a mix: I believe that people have to do a lot of looking outside of themselves in their beginning if only to discover their primary genre. It's one thing to feel drawn to a camera, per se, but quite another to know what you'd like to do with it if you get one.

Only by looking at lots of pictures can you really know what you like enough to follow by yourself. By follow I do not mean ape.

In my era, that was achieved by magazines and a very few books, which were too expensive for me to buy. I remember getting Haskins' Five Girls and Cowboy Kate from the local library, and also David Hamilton's Dreams of young Girls - I know these raised Glaswegian librarian eyebrows at the time. Way beyond my young pockets then - the books, the librarians were not going to be interested.

However, those two photographers stuck with me for many years because of books, but before I'd ever heard of either, I had discovered fashion magazines and the Rollei tlr via my aunt, who bought Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. So yes, genres hit young, at least within my experience.

I think looking at publications let's you get the flavour of work that's good enough to make it to the top; you don't pick up on that down the local camera club. Maybe other cities offered more.

Come the time you have the chance, your mind already has a sort of subliminal idea of what's what, and then you're ready to go. This does not imply copying: I think it just means you lost the awkwardness of your virginity in private.

As Cooter would say, IMO.

Rob

KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2017, 05:26:43 pm »

I believe artists can be better served by looking in rather than looking at. Witness the amount of clowns clones to be seen here and there.

Rob, I did say that artists can be better served...

;-)

Pete Berry

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2017, 02:16:35 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

Yep, Feb. '40; and I see David Bailey and yourself must be on the cusp of 80. David looks pretty good for having survived three divorces, And Catherine Deneuve - Damn!! Fortunately I remain with my one-and-only of 57 years.

The damn bodies though - slowly but relentlessly falling apart - that's the really hard one. So I do wonder how Louise and I do the month of Feb. land-traveling, hiking, photo'ing NZ's South Is. top to bottom. We meet our eldest daughter, hubby, 14 and 19 year old grandsons in Christchurch where I've rented a minivan and a number of Airbnb's. They're now in transit on their sailboat from Tonga to Opua, North Is., to wait out the cyclone season, and midway through an extended 18 month sabbatical from CA university positions. 

Congrats to you budding MD granddaughter who seems to have found her path in medical school! Hopefully it's in the UK where higher education is actually supported, and she won't be burdened with the $150,000+ student loan debt most US med. graduates face. Back in '62 when I entered Duke U. med. the tuition was $4000 yearly. Now nearly $50,000.

Last, having sailed many months through most of the Bahamas between the early 70's and 2000, we never found those "special rocks" either, but we dind't realize there were any to look for! Dr. G no help, so what gives with these?

Pete
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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2017, 03:27:30 am »

Peter,

The special rocks are not Bahamian: they belong to the Seychelles, and have been a staple for a zillion fashion and calendar photographer backgrounds. They are smooth, quite distinctively shaped and go very well with the curvatures of the female body...

Our best experience of the Bahamas was time on Rose Island, courtesy one Scott Saunders, who was building a house there. It was a bumpy Boston Whaler ride from Nassau which was memorable in that the two models, and my wife who worked with me, spent the trip holding onto their respective boobs in order to prevent them being shaken right off, which would never have done. My challenge was preventing the camera case from crashing into the boat at every bounce. The situation on Rose Island seems to have been that you were obliged to buy your strip of land right across from one shore to the one behind it, like a slice of sausage, if you will. I think his neighbour was a speedboat manufacturer.

Anyway, when we arrived, my heart sank: low cliff where I'd talked beach. We walked from the landing along a path to the location of his new house, which at that point, consisted of a beach-bar, which was a good sign. After we got everything settled, including a bathtub that was filled with ice cubes, he suggested we walk further down the path to the sea, which we did. Spirits soared: beautiful, pinkish sand!

Medical school. Yes, she studied in Edinburgh. She'd never had any questions in her mind about career: from as soon as she was able she got herself into first-aid things and never looked back. Her sister, on the other hand, was something quite else: she used to come on holiday to our place in Mallorca and when not deep in books, she'd argue with me about absolutely everything. Trouble was, even at eleven or twelve, she had this ability to think sideways, which always disconcerted and left me with my mouth open not knowing where to go next. No wonder she took to law and top honours at her uni! She now works in one of London's five or six so-called Golden Circle companies. Maybe she might supply my pension supplements if I end up needing them!

Yeah, I met my wife at school: she was fifteen and I seventeen; it clicked first date, and felt as if we'd known one another all our lives. I guess that there's a possibility that we had, but in a previous iteration of it. It's my hope for the future: the last nine years since cancer took her out seem to be a blank, with nothing to mark one from any of the others. Guess that's how things go, sometimes.

Bailey, by the look of him, has turned fat. He was a great looking cat in his prime, all that hair and cool! I was never fat - quite the opposite; trouble with that end of the physical spectrum is that it made me look ill much of the time, though I wasn't! I admired Bailey's work from the start, but in my opinion, he never again (from what I have seen) managed to go where his collaboration with Jean Shrimpton took them both. Lightning strikes, etc. But he is still in demand, lucky sod!

Rob

Pete Berry

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #26 on: November 22, 2017, 07:52:30 pm »

Rob, I am so, so sorry about your loss of your wife of many years. Though I've been through it with many patients in my internal med. practice, family and friends, I still can't imagine the enormity of grief with the loss of ones spouse and best friend. It seems to hit men even harder as women by nature seem much more adaptable to loss, looking outward for support from friends and community rather than turning inwards, spiraling down into the paralysis of depression. But it sounds like you're doing what you need to do to keep involved and living a fulfilling  life.

Adolescent daughters can be challenging, and around 14 my oldest (crikey, now 54!) discovered women's "glass ceiling" reality of the times with endless arguments ensuing, and where I too often played Devil's advocate. "But who in their right mind would even WANT to be CEO of Exxon". Ended up with her doctorate in anthropology, following a Fulbright Fellowship supporting her fieldwork in NW India involving the burgeoning single women's movement, and now chairs the amalgamated department "Critical Studies in Gender, Race and Sexuality" .

I'm glad to know about "those rocks", but with the gorgeous gals undraped atop, besides the photographer who really looks at them?! Maybe a full torso Esther Williams carbon fibre/epoxy reinforced swimsuit for the ladies' Rose Is. Whaler ride?
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John Camp

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2017, 09:17:34 pm »

Well, I guess I disagree with everybody.

I think Rob C was overly harsh in his evaluation of Alain's early years, inasmuch as Alain was working in a shared darkroom in which he didn't even have the usual membership privileges, complicated by the fact that he was just learning (in a student darkroom) and might not even have known about amber safelights. If they had a red safelight, they had a red safelight. Suck it up.

I also disagree with everybody who refused to do any work that didn't appeal -- i.e. refused to work for the money. I've found over a lifetime that you learn more by doing work that you don't want to do, than by doing work that you do want to do, whether or not money is involved. The Japanese produce some of the most skilled artists in the world, and the Japanese attitude toward learning can be summed up by, "Shut up and do what you're told." At some point, you may or may not reach mastery, depending on your drive and talent, but in any case, you spend a lot of time doing things you don't want to do, because doing what you want to do is easy. You do it because you can already do it, and that basically teaches you to do things the easy way.You never have the insights that derive from doing something you don't want to do, and then applying those insights to things that you do want to do.

As far as Alain's essay goes, I don't think that collecting art is particularly important. I think it's nice. It's like wall paper. Wallpaper is nice, at least sometimes. The art that most of us could afford to collect is generally crappy, and if you spend too much time looking at crappy art, you'll probably wind up making crappy art, because you'll find yourself accepting the cliches and faults that are found in crappy art. (I live in Santa Fe, a sinkhole of crappy art -- though there is a bit of decent art here. Not much, but a bit.) In any case, I'm on Santa Fe's Canyon Road almost daily, and believe me, the art sucks, but people collect it anyway. I don't see how that can be good. What is important is looking at a lot of really good art, usually found in museums. If I lived in NYC, I'd be at the Met or MOMA every friggin' day. I go to NY twice a year, and every trip, I visit the Pieter Bruegel at the Met, as well as a few others, and I see new things in them every time. The recent "Max Beckmann in New York" blew my socks off. Crappy art doesn't do that. Your socks stay on but your skin crawls.

I disagree with whoever said that he didn't really think of photography as art. I think it is, and a high form of art, and it's about the only art that is still affordable. I have a fine print of Paul Caponigro's Running White Deer on my bedroom wall and I look at it every day. I believe I paid $6,000 for it. Worth every penny. What you can't do is confuse that fact that photography is easy and cheap, with the idea that photographic masterpieces are easy. They're as hard and rare as masterpieces in any other art form. Ansel Adams devoted most of his life to photography, and is considered a great talent, yet how many genuine masterpieces did he produce in that lifetime? Maybe a dozen?

My biggest problem with all of Alain's essays is, it seems to me, is that he particularly appreciates things that sell, which is a requirement of his particularly difficult way of making a living. Because of my job, I recognize and appreciate that, but that mindset has a distorting effect on the way you value things. The question is -- which perhaps none of us can answer, maybe not even Alain -- does he collect art that's really good, or does he collect "art" that he simply appreciates because it appeals to the same set of problems and artistic decisions he has to make as a person who is fundamentally a commercial artist? Does that art say something important about the world, or does it say something about what tourists like and will buy? That is, ids it, or is it not, wallpaper?
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Farmer

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2017, 05:33:03 am »

I like what you said, John.
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Phil Brown

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2017, 08:40:21 am »

Well, John, I am not Japanese.

To spend my few years on Earth doing something I dislike strikes me as particularly perverse; if one finds the ability within oneself to do what one wants to do, well enough to get paid to do it, that looks like a good idea to me.

As for it being easy, well sometimes it is and then again, sometimes not. What it is not, is unpleasant.

Your notion totally disregards the point that people often do desire to improve the quality of what they are doing. That means that they do not actually stand still, churning out the same old same old every assignment; they could, but then they would soon find themselves losing interest, at which point it might make more sense to abandon photography right away and try for something more easy to make profitable.

As for photography being art. No, it doesn't seem to me to be art. The closest it gets is when a photograph is made by an artist, at which point it may or may not really have something intrinsically different to offer. I bought two prints (offset-litho) from a photographer in Sarlat, in France, along with a book of landscapes of his; the prints are on my bedroom wall. Now, art? I doubt it, but they reminded me of driving through a misty Dordogne, which was enough to please both my wife and myself.

The problem with photography from the is it or is it not perspective, is that a camera is a recording device and, as such, removes the skills that drawing and painting demand. Thus, all the photographer does is either edit reality or frame one of his own, and the trouble is, he doesn't need any hand or other highly tuned skills to shoot what's there. The advent of digital has removed the very last remaining requirements of talent that the darkroom demanded: you had to pay your dues and learn something. No more.

Of course, if suits most of us in photography to deny this, and yes, some of us still have the little (or huge) something extra about ourselves that makes us shine, but that's us doing the star impersonations, not the medium. Which brings me right back to my earlier point: when an artist makes a photograph, then it may be art, but what about when the guy makes a dud? Is he then no longer an artist, or is it just his dud that's not art?

We will never resolve this question. Of course, it would be rash to assume all that's done on paper or canvas is art!

Rob
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 08:43:40 am by Rob C »
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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #30 on: November 23, 2017, 02:52:58 pm »

Collecting art is perhaps a bit if a leap from the matter of photographs being or not being art themselves.

I don't collect much at all these days, and when I did, it was only magazines that I couldn't bring myself to trash. OTOH I trashed most of my own original negatives and transparencies over a period - maybe over a month? Why? Because at the time, digital didn't exist and it never entered my mind that all of that stuff would one day be called a back catalogue, and provide material enough to save me having to snap another girl ever again in order to find images to play with today. Of course that's not to say I wouldn't want to snap 'em again, just that until the time comes again where it's realistic, I could still have raw material with which to fashion new imagery. That's truly the miracle of digital: the magic it lets you weave if you are a weaver of dreams in the first place. If you are not, then it makes bugger all difference.

Collecting doesn't seem to be quite the same concept as studying images in order to decipher what they are doing to you; if they are not doing anything to you, they may either be poor ones or you can't get your head into the graphics world. I'm not saying that they have to affect you positively to have value: that some make you puke is also instructive. But, collecting per se?

Rob

Pete Berry

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #31 on: November 23, 2017, 03:22:31 pm »

I'll have to say I'm in John's "camp" regarding photography as an art form. I've wrestled with the "What is Art" question over the years and finally came to the simple conclusion that the only commonality I could find in the vast landscape of ART - from Lascaux to the current jumble of "anything goes" - is purely and simply intent. The intent to create something more personally or universally meaningful/beautiful/emotive/inspiring/shocking/whatever from the medium of choice - be it found materials as a urinal from the junkyard or an instant frozen in time on digital media - the bits and bytes we mold to our vision.

So when I turn critic, all I can legitimately say about a piece, medium or movement is whether I like it or not - not that it isn't ART. Which would just repeat the generational tendency toward rejection of the legitimacy of the new as did the French and British Royal Academies of Art at the dawn of Impressionism.
 
Though I have bought several framed photographs over the years from unknowns, the only thing I've collected is 19th century Japanese woodblock triptychs and singles, of which I have maybe sixteen. They continue to fascinate me.

Pete
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Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2017, 04:15:28 pm »

Intent is a pretty generous datum!

You could then claim that a baby with a crayon is creating art even if it's really only succeeding in being as antisocial as its physical abilities permit. (Screaming doesn't count: this is about graphics, not music.)

Art, it seems to me, usually requires at least a reasonable level of artistic ability in the practitioner. Also, would you say that everything an artist you accept as an artist produces is art? I am more inclined to think that the actual achievement may be art if it is good enough to stand beside his better work, but if it can't, then will it be non-art or just bad art? Is bad art itself really not art, but just our unwillingness to admit it is rubbish?

Perhaps it is helpful to consider one's own photographic work and try to analyse it from the point of view of whether or not one considers it art. In pro life, I was often happy with pictures that worked out as I'd intended; some I thought were close to art, but really, they were effects that I knew I could get by doing this, that or the other, and by employing some particular lens. That instantly self-removed me from the conceit of being an artist because I was, essentially, using what has come to be called, probably from the film What's new, Pussycat, a cheap photographic trick! The art, if there was one, was about working with another person in order to make something photographable exist for a moment long enough for me to catch it. Without doubt, other than it paying the bills, that was the drug that made model work a passion yet also a nightmare if the collaboration was doomed. It would be insanity to claim the buzz was the cameras and lenses; those might give collectors a high, but not myself! But I don't deny some cameras were a pleasure to operate, and their longer lenses even more so.

(In the same way, but from the opposite direction, think of Van Gogh: his technique is as crude as you could humanly make it, but he had something going on inside his head that just couldn't remain bottled up and hidden from the external world. I have absolutely no problem with all of those people in the art world who thought him crap: he was just ahead of his time, which is not their fault but very much his misfortune, it just was as it was on the day.)

But on the other hand, today, devoid of commission-induced responsibility and expectations, there are indeed moments when I think to myself that somewhere along the line an image I've made now and then has touched the cheek of art.

But do I consider myself an artist? Possibly a wannabe.

Rob

KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #33 on: November 23, 2017, 04:53:20 pm »

I see collecting as a pejorative term. I get no thrill from forming a collection, the thrill lies with the individual pieces.

As for that baby with the crayon, well, he/she is displaying a level of self expression that will never be repeated. The ultimate artists. The only other people I've seen displaying similar levels of self expression were my wife's learning disabled clients.

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #34 on: November 23, 2017, 05:05:04 pm »

I see collecting as a pejorative term. I get no thrill from forming a collection, the thrill lies with the individual pieces.

As for that baby with the crayon, well, he/she is displaying a level of self expression that will never be repeated. The ultimate artists. The only other people I've seen displaying similar levels of self expression were my wife's learning disabled clients.


I read your take on that baby as very true. And as totally nonsense, too. Achieving this state with words is an art.

Farmer

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #35 on: November 23, 2017, 05:19:41 pm »

Rob - you want to limit art.  That's fine for you, but I don't think it's valid to do so for everyone else.  Art might not be good art but if the intent is to create art, then art is created - good or bad.
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Phil Brown

KLaban

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #36 on: November 24, 2017, 03:40:30 am »


I read your take on that baby as very true. And as totally nonsense, too. Achieving this state with words is an art.

Rob, define art.

;-)

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #37 on: November 24, 2017, 07:39:03 am »

Rob, define art.

;-)

I would, Keith, but being subjective it would soon become political, and you know where that would lead.

But I know it when I read, hear, see, smell, taste or run my fingers over it... we didn't get three leading senses for nothing, you know! They keep the world going round.

Rob

Rob C

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #38 on: November 24, 2017, 08:09:52 am »

Rob - you want to limit art.  That's fine for you, but I don't think it's valid to do so for everyone else.  Art might not be good art but if the intent is to create art, then art is created - good or bad.


No, not at all. What I want to do is clarify relative values. I think it disgraceful that one might think it fair to put Dali and myself under the common label of artist.

Doing so is demeaning both to Dali and to any other real artist. It does nothing for me, since I know only too well my own graphic limitations. Applying the soubriquet to another mediocre talent is also ultimately harmful for the recipient who might well go on to harbour huge, misplaced illusions that will inevitably one day explode in his face.

Gotta stay real to survive.

Rob

pearlstreet

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Re: Collecting Art
« Reply #39 on: November 24, 2017, 11:03:02 am »

Rob, your last two posts contradict each other.

Edward Weston's pepper might not be your cup of tea (it is mine) but it took no less vision or skill than someone using oils.



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