Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's an Artist? Take 459

That tuckered-out argument we've been having here for ages...you know, the one about who's an artist and what makes something art...reared its ugly head in my consciousness again while reading an article in the Science section of The New York Times this morning. It's a profile of photographer, Felice Frankel, who has virtually revolutionized the way images are presented in science education:

With her help, scientists have turned dull images of things like yeast in a dish or the surface of a CD into photographs so striking that they appear often on covers of scientific journals and magazines. According to George M. Whitesides, a Harvard chemist and her longtime collaborator, “She has transformed the visual face of science.” [...]

In her book, “Envisioning Science” (M.I.T. Press, 2002), Ms. Frankel instructed researchers, in words and many pictures, in the kind of visual depiction of scientific processes and subjects she and Dr. Whitesides produced in an earlier book, “On the Surface of Things,” (Harvard University Press, 1997). Now they are finishing a book about “small things,” as Dr. Whitesides put it, things at the limit of what can be seen with light, even through the microscope.

Meanwhile, Ms. Frankel has been organizing conferences around the country on “Image and Meaning,” and working to establish a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation on the uses of visual imagery in teaching science.
Her images are indeed captivating:



But in the Times article, she explains why she's not comfortable with her photographs being described as "art":

When people call Felice Frankel an artist, she winces.

In the first place, the photographs she makes don’t sell. She knows this, she says, because after she received a Guggenheim grant in 1995, she started taking her work to galleries. “Nobody wanted to bother looking,” she said.

In the second place, her images are not full of emotion or ideology or any other kind of message. As she says, “My stuff is about phenomena.”

Phenomena like magnetism or the behavior of water molecules or how colonies of bacteria grow — phenomena of nature. “So I don’t call it art,” Ms. Frankel said. “When it’s art, it’s more about the creator, not necessarily the concept in the image.”
There's not a lot of information about her experience with galleries in that statement, but it's not difficult to image the details. What gets me about this, though, is the notion that someone doing something so fundamentally related to what true "art" does (i.e., help us see the world in a new way) has decided what she does isn't "art" because of some degree of rejection by the commercial gallery system. Without knowing whether that experience was limited to walking into some big name spaces and asking the gallerinas if someone would look at her prints, it's difficult to conclude whether such a response was premature or not (and I'll admit, the work's not quite right for our program), but it's merely the idea that Ms. Frankel permitted someone else to decide for her whether she was an "artist" that bothers me here.

In this
1998 interview on The NewsHour, the interviewer called what Ms. Frankel does "a marriage of art and science," and she doesn't object to that characterization, suggesting perhaps back then she was still actively seeking gallery exhibitions (or, obviously, that she wasn't presented the opportunity to object), but clearly at one point she wanted to be taken seriously as an "artist." In fact, when she first became affiliated with MIT, according the Times article, it was as an artist in residence. What changed her mind about whether she was an "artist" appears to have been the gallery system.

But let's back up to her definition for more insight into this decision:

In the second place, her images are not full of emotion or ideology or any other kind of message. As she says, “My stuff is about phenomena.”

Phenomena like magnetism or the behavior of water molecules or how colonies of bacteria grow — phenomena of nature. “So I don’t call it art,” Ms. Frankel said. “When it’s art, it’s more about the creator, not necessarily the concept in the image.”
Ouch.

Now I don't imagine she meant that as the criticism it reads to me as, but still. Yikes.

Or is she right? Is art more about the creator than anything else? What is an "artist" minus the ego? Is ego a primary component of "art"?


Even more disturbing perhaps than this assertion is the initial conclusion that her photographs are not "art" because "the photographs she makes don’t sell." Perhaps that reflects nothing more than Ms. Frankel's personal assessment. But it was alarming to read it in print, so matter-of-factly stated by someone so clearly intelligent and creative.

Like I said, we've been over this terrain with a fine tooth comb, but I wasn't aware of how much such notions have seemingly seeped into the conventional wisdom. I mean she's now convinced...where did her doubt about the definitions go?

Can I just say Yikes, again?

Labels:

78 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

With what, 40,000 "new artists" graduating each spring, we may need a new category anyway.

If only you could get everyone to read this blog, many of lifes issues have already been solved right here.

You could also have a drink with Ms. Frankel and easily clear this issue up, it may take a few drinks and if you were to get ill, think of the microbial photo ops.

6/12/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe she should sign up for the ARS, seeing they don't think photography is art either.

If art were only about the selling, then no Sunday painter could be an artist. And if it were only about ego, then how come so many artists have such self doubt, as by that definition you'd have to have a big ego to be an artist?

6/12/2007 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous stephen said...

She's right, but it's not only being 'more about the creator' that makes something art. What makes something 'art' is also more about the gallery owners, curators, collectors and writers.

But that is too cynical a view. The images of Ms. Frankel's art on the computer screen stopped the members of my household dead in their tracks...one of them my 8 year old daughter. The reaction was the same from all...Wow!....What is that? I'm more excited that Frankel is making a difference in how we view the world (true art) than whether she considers what she does 'art'.

I'd be concerned if her attitude about her work slowed her down or made her stop creating completely, but she's obviously doing fine. I find her point of view completely refreshing. Thanks for bringing her work to our attention.

Stephen

6/12/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the work functions as science, it has specific science based aims. She has streamlined the imagery and improved its presentation. She is a "very good" designer.

6/12/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is art "about The creator"?, ego's are artificial and dangerous.

6/12/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

...it's merely the idea that Ms. Frankel permitted someone else to decide for her whether she was an "artist" that bothers me here.

I didn't interpret her statement that way. My take on it is that she's saying "the gallery system doesn't recognize what I'm doing as art. So I'm going to call it something else and go play in a different arena."

I say good for her!

6/12/2007 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The gallery system has no right to make any such determination, though, David. Its only valid input is whether or not her art is right for their program.

She misinterpreted the response, IMO. Concluding her work isn't "art" because whoever she approached didn't want to exhibit it is giving them far too much power.

The article suggests she had no problem considering her earlier landscape photography "art." Just because she changed subject matter doesn't mean she's no longer an artist.

I think the day is coming when "artists" and "scientists" will be much less distinct in the public's eye than they seem to be now, actually. I know artists whose work is published in scientific journals because it's real science. I don't see them as any less artists because of that, no more than I see any subject expert any less of an artist. In fact, I wish more artists were subject experts (at least if they're going to explore said subjects in their work).

Yes, good for Ms. Frankel that she's not letting the rejection she encountered stop her from enjoying her work or the fruits of her labors, but bad for her that she's not standing up for other artist/scientists. She's doing them a disservice by suggesting her work isn't art because no one wanted to sell it in a gallery. If she considers those images "art" then they are art. Full stop. The only role the galleries or anyone else plays in responding to that assertion is whether they consider them good art or not.

Why do I feel a rush of deja vu?

6/12/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Molly Stevens said...

Beauty doesn't immediately qualify something as art. I think art has to do with meaning, intended meaning.

If she doesn't think her work is art then it is not. This does not mean her images can't be considered beautiful.

6/12/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If she doesn't think her work is art then it is not.

I totally agree. My point is merely to consider why she doesn't think her work is art now, when once she clearly did.

6/12/2007 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I would say -- you just know I had to chime in, didn't you -- I would say Ms. Frankel hits the nail directly on the head when she says "My stuff is about phenomena." Art isn't about phenomena -- or, if it is, the phenomena it's about is the artist (as she says), but, more, about the individual artist mapped onto the universal human landscape. Art is about what it is to be human -- art explores the internal geography of the human mind. It's the mind looking at the mind. Ms. Frankel's work is specifically about the external world of physics and chemistry.

That it sells or doesn't is besides the point. And it does seem sad that she changed her mind about whether she was pursuing art or not. On the other hand, her methods may have changed, too: She may have started out making art from science, and now instead concentrates on visualising scientific concepts. The difference is subtle, but important.

If I were to include a geodesic dome in a painting, say, I'd approach it wholly differently than I would if I were drawing a diagram to explain the concept of the geodesic dome.

I wish I could share your hope about artists and scientists becoming closer, Ed. In my experience, artists aren't smart enough to understand most science, and when they are, they don't care enough to try. There are exceptions, of course. Then again, I'm getting older. Maybe things are changing and I just don't see it.

6/12/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Yes, good for Ms. Frankel that she's not letting the rejection she encountered stop her from enjoying her work or the fruits of her labors, but bad for her that she's not standing up for other artist/scientists. She's doing them a disservice by suggesting her work isn't art because no one wanted to sell it in a gallery.

I disagree. If anything, she's demonstrating to other artist/scientists that they can remove the arbitrary "art" tag from what they're doing and target a more receptive audience. She's not letting the galleries decide. She's taking the initiative by removing her work from their jurisdiction.

6/12/2007 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't think it's necessarily that they aren't smart enough (many probably aren't), but most artists are too self-important to learn something earthbound, something as empirical as science. artists want to operate beyond the empirical, in the realm of emotions, the visceral, the unexplainable.

6/12/2007 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous kalista said...

it happens less as i get older, but occasionally people will respond, when i say i'm an artist, "do you make your living at it?", as if that is some deciding factor in whether or not i'm a real artist. i think in the minds of most people (non-artists), "what you do" means how you earn a living. on a purely pragmatic level, if you don't earn a living at it, it's a hobby or a lifelong interest, which of course always rankles the artist who doesn't make a living at it. i used to always answer, "well, I've already sold more work than van gogh did in his whole lifetime" and that seemed to satisfy them.

ed, i see your point that it's sad that she let someone else decide for her, but it doesn't seem that she had her identity bound up in being an "artist" (maybe she didn't go to artschool and doesn't have that romantic suffering thing to live up to). she's still doing her work and is successful.

6/12/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

Edward,

I'm pretty sure you've said the same things about dogmatic art that Frankel is saying about scientific art. At the leading edge, the most artistic work is the one that is created entirely for no other reason. Giving an image a political or scientific edge reduces this quality, making the works "artistic" rather than "art as such."

(I might argue that art with a literary or symbolic edge succeeds because literature and symbolism is itself a type of art, but I think that's another discussion).

I don't know if it's important to draw these distinctions or not. I'm only responding to Frankel's statement that nobody wanted to buy her images through galleries. My best guess of the reason is that people saw them as "artistic" expressions of something which was not itself art (in this case science).

If Frankel could release herself of the bonds of scientific illustration, and produce beautiful photographs which did not necessarily have any educational purpose -- for example, cropping an image in such a way that it "looked better," even though it no longer showed a scientifically interesting structure -- she might come closer to "art for art's sake." (I'm unfamiliar with the greater body of her work, so maybe she's already doing this, I don't know).

P.S. I'm getting a slightly odd aroma from Frankel's plaints. She seems to be a gainfully employed artist with some measure of success at selling her copyrighted images. Gallery sales of artistic artifacts are not the only types of artistic success. I'd guess that she would be able to find "a gallery" if she really tried.

If her definition of success is to get $50,000 per image through an internationally-renowned, museum-quality gallery, then yeah, she's a big lump of coal. But c'mon. There are dozens [if not hundreds] of reputable galleries who would love to represent images like these, and who might even do a decent job of finding one or two folks in their gallery rolodexes to take the occasional image off her hands.

6/12/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe we should start a collective gallery called lump o' coal or loc for short.

6/12/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

What's the difference between one of Frankel's photographs and one by Ansel Adams? Does nature have a scale predjuice?

Scale them up to 4x6 feet, put them in a $500 frame and then what's the difference between Frankel and Burpsky or Gurpsky ?(whatever you know who I mean)

6/12/2007 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

If I somehow figured out how the Big Bang happened, I still wouldn't be a scientist. (And you can see how much of a scientist I'm not by coming up with this supposition in the first place...) I'd be an artist who stumbled upon something really really interesting.

I have no training in science.I wouldn't think of myself as a scientist. And the scientific world would't be particularly interested in embracing me as a scientist.

So this scientist's response to her own work is not all that surprising. And I suppose the response to her work by the few people in the artworld she showed her work to is not all that surprising. But as artists we're used to pushing the envelope. And this scientist has pushed the envelope. Now what?

6/12/2007 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with David and Stephen. Aren't you alwyas saying "the work's the thing"? She's doing it.

How can I market my paintings as sports? I would love to abandon the "artworld", but still sell my paintings, so badly.

Henry Darger, among others, didn't consider his stuff to be art either.

6/12/2007 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Hungry Hyaena said...

Bravo, George! The scale point is important here, and I see no reason that Felice Frankel should not be involved with both science - using her images to educate and further general knowledge of the micro world - and art - by, as Henry suggested, approaching the images as experiences themselves rather than using the images to explain some variety of experience.

As for artists being less intelligent than scientists or rather not intelligent enough to comprehend science...I disagree. Plenty of artists are very bright individuals. The problem, however, is the increasing specialization of the Art World. I don't like trade schools; like young professional athletes, artists are often undereducated as a result of what they see as market demand.

Every artist should get a liberal arts education or, if college isn't an option, be encouraged to go the autodidact route.

6/12/2007 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Of course, Hyaena, I didn't mean they were truly stupid. I don't know that I've met many -- if any -- truly stupid people in the world. But some people are purposely ignorant. And others are just undereducated.

6/12/2007 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I just have to point out . . . when an artist comes into the gallery asking for a show there is so much more than the art that is taken into consideration. We all know that the success of an artist depends on how hard that artist is willing to work at it. Not at making work, but at making the work known and respected. The gallery can only do so much. The artist has to be out there representing. Being part of the community, building a following among her fellows and the curators and others in the community.

I have been approached by scientists saying, "Isn't this beautiful? Isn't this art?" I have to find a way to reply that, yes it is beautiful, but you are not an artist and that is not an insult. Being an artist is a calling, not a side job or an afterthought. I don't run a gallery to celebrate beauty. I spend all my time (ALL my time) working to make the work we show known, and I expect no less from the artists we show.

Art is also a business. That is the way it is.

6/12/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

If someone says they're not an artist, then s/he isn't. Darger isn't an artist (assuming he didn't consider himself one). His work may be art, but if it didn't originate with artistic intention, then it is art in the same way "Fountain" is.

It's sad if Frankel was talked out of being an artist... but honestly, if that's the case, then it suggests that she still has some hurdles go jump in terms of understanding art and perhaps it makes sense for her to steer clear of the term.

6/12/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I don't think Darger considered himself an artist. Which leaves people like Edward having to say that Darger's work is not art. Because Ed likes to say that one is an artist if one says one is, and an object is art if an artist says it is; meaning that Darger's work isn't art and he's not an artist.

Curiously, I'd agree with that. I think Darger was mentally ill.

This is off topic anyway.

6/12/2007 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Regia said...

I agree with Ed, if I consider myself an artist, I'm an artist. It's what I do and how I feel about my work. It does not depend on what other people think or say about it.

6/12/2007 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...

you tell them regia

6/12/2007 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous -j. said...

I agree with Ed, if I consider myself an artist, I'm an artist. It's what I do and how I feel about my work. It does not depend on what other people think or say about it.

Methinks y'all overestimate self-determination's role. Sure this sentiment has value when trying to muster faith in the studio. But in the big picture it's a load of rubbish.

Art lives. It's a key component of any people--maintaining the cairns of culture along constantly shifting trails. The call and response component will render most delusions of grandeur and stunted self esteems moot.

Just because one believes oneself an artist don't make it so.

6/12/2007 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

George: There are important differences between Frankel's work and Adams's. Adams captured recognizable natural forms. There is an important distinction between figurative/landscape art and contemporary abstract art. Frankel's can never be considered figurative or landscape art, so they need to be considered either abstract or scientific/educational. Which brings me to my second point. Adams was not constrained by educational purposes or niche marketing. He was not publishing images for geologists or environmentalists, either professional or amateur. A third issue is that of cropping. Adams could chop up his pictures however he wanted. Frankel might be limited in her ability to chop and crop because she may need to include certain interesting structures and phenomena in each shot. These three ideas are of course interrelated.

6/12/2007 06:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you tell them -j

6/12/2007 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

-j. sez:
Art lives. It's a key component of any people--maintaining the cairns of culture along constantly shifting trails. The call and response component will render most delusions of grandeur and stunted self esteems moot.

Just because one believes oneself an artist don't make it so.


Amen.

6/12/2007 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm cruising through a book at the moment and the artist says an artist who relies on sales of their art to make it will certainly get sidetracked. I disagree, thinking that generally an artist has become a copy of the original, a xerox. And it is interesting with each new copy made, just how far we have drifted. Though, simpler, you could say artists have just moved on.

6/12/2007 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the explanation behind why "an artist who relies on the sale of their art to make it will certainly get sidetracked. "?

And why does that necessarily make them a xerox of the original?

That is assuming a lot of factors-please explain anon?

6/12/2007 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Potluck...

Consider this statement: ... if I consider myself an artist, I'm an artist.

Now consider this statement: "if I consider myself a pilot, I'm a pilot."

Would you fly with the self declared pilot? Or, does this type of declaration need further outside validation? What does this imply?

* * *
the work functions as science
What does this assumption mean? It seems like it has more to do with how the viewer frames the artwork. If an artist is making artworks ‘about’ consumerism (or, you pick), does that make them anthropologists and not artists?

She is a "very good" designer.
As opposed to a "very good" artist? Are we to infer that ‘good design’ is not a quality that art may posses? Or that something that is ‘good design’ is not art?

* * *

Art isn't about phenomena
Hmm, how about the impressionists, or Morris Louis? Is there something that art cannot be about?

* * *

Henry, I disagree. I think you are splitting hairs here. Abstract, representational, nature based, conceptually based, psychologically based, whatever, none of these angles of approach matter. One cannot choose or bless one as the path to true art, it doesn’t work that way. We cannot say that Frankel’s decision making processes, or her technical manipulations are any less valid than those chosen by a different photographer or artist. Waiting for the ‘right’ light in the Rockies or in a petri dish, what’s the difference?

As far as Frankel is concerned, the story she relates tells us a bit about her personality and how she responded to the problem of getting a job which requires you to be in the union, and where the union requires you to have a job. She is doing ok, she made the NY Times and we’re talking about her.

6/12/2007 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger rb said...

there is a world of difference between scientific method and poetic method though there's no reason why they could not coexist in either a work's construction or its effect

imho all true art contains an element of poetics (a self-contained and self-referential raison d'être that exists in the connection between creator and audience) that has nothing to do with art school and selling

6/12/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies George and rb, just to squeeze in and respond to Anon re: context.

Yes, I understand. The context is missing, but I don't want to give that. You find the book, or a similar context, or you find it yourself, and then the original, or the baffling lack thereof, context, will, well, won't really matter much more.
I thought the xerox thing was good;)

I think what Ed. is trying to get out is that when some idea, process, or practice, enters the Chamber of Art & Commerce we are able to grasp better whether or not it is 'good art' simply by noticing the price that it fetches and then further stretches, No?
Within the C of A & C I say yes, but outside that park is a whole different ball game. People are doing/figuring out their own thing without the pressure to provide evidence that they are doing it for the holy sake of the Chamber of Art and Commerce.

Well, that's all I have time for anon... Make it a colorful cocktail this evening, and might I suggest something stronger as this evening digs in.

rb, you are spiking your drinks a tad early:)

6/12/2007 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous juryduty said...

Is it reasonable to consider her work 'illustration'? That would make her an 'illustrator'. Then we could save all the hand-wringing about the difference between what she does and what she thinks artists do.

You know?

Not being a plumber, if I told you that I don't do plumbing and then told you my definition of plumbing, do you think the local plumbers' union would go into an introspective tizzy about it?

Probably not.

6/12/2007 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

George sez:
Art isn't about phenomena
Hmm, how about the impressionists, or Morris Louis? Is there something that art cannot be about?

Let's say that art isn't strictly about phenomena.

Waiting for the ‘right’ light in the Rockies or in a petri dish, what’s the difference?

Hey, now you understand why I don't consider photography art, either!

6/12/2007 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Is it reasonable to consider her work 'illustration'?

No offense, but this is becoming funny as I watch people looking for a niche to safely corral Frankel’s works as not art. Come on, we can accept a urinal as art, why are these photographs such a problem?

6/12/2007 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Would you fly with the self declared pilot? Or, does this type of declaration need further outside validation? What does this imply?

Funny, but ultimately unconvincing, example. The only risk of taking a self-declared artist at their word is that you'd be subjected to bad art (OK, so sometimes that's almost as bad as crashing in an airplane, but not quite.)

The alternative to accepting the word of any who self-declares to be an artist is demanding some sort of proficiency test (as we have for pilots, etc.), which is more or less the academy-as-god model.

Short of that model, you have to accept every one who self-declares to be an artist at their word and move on to the question of whether their art is any good or not, IMHO.

6/12/2007 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Also, it's not that Frankel didn't want to be an artist and others tried to make her one. She set out to be an artist (accepted an artist in residence position at MIT no less), but then decided this work that was gaining her fame was not "art" only after having it rejected by the gallery system. AFTER.

That's the crux of my problem here. Initial rejection changed her definition. Had she gotten representation or whatever, she most likely would have continued to consider her work "art."

The implied lesson is not to let the system convince you what you're doing isn't worthy. If you feel it's art, then goddammit it's art. Stick with that. No one has the authority to tell you otherwise.

They might have the authority to say it's not good art, but that's another matter altogether.

6/12/2007 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Short of that model, you have to accept every one who self-declares to be an artist at their word and move on to the question of whether their art is any good or not, IMHO, measured with the acquaintance of good taste, sense, and a little after-dinner nuance, perhaps.
Eh, how do you tell if something is any good?
knowledge, belief, experience, Gestalt, a wish, determination, stands up against the best, there is one next door, all of these, none of them.

Ed, This whole idea of weeding out the self-declaring fakes is as old as the Jones, typically placed. You have modified your response, which now reads as a salute to 'if you believe you are you are' with judgment kind of being pushed further back, though still lingering, on that slippery slope.

6/12/2007 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed sez:
The implied lesson is not to let the system convince you what you're doing isn't worthy. If you feel it's art, then goddammit it's art. Stick with that. No one has the authority to tell you otherwise.

So, Ed, why did you stop painting?

6/12/2007 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

It seems that she has simply found an audience receptive and appreciative of her work. This is a difficult thing to do. Isnt that the goal of any artist (whether they use that word or not)? The gallery system has several different audiences within it, and there are several ones outside of it. I feel that anyone who makes things and wants them to resonate with others, if they find that audience they are succeeding.

6/12/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Ms. Frankel said. “When it’s art, it’s more about the creator, not necessarily the concept in the image.”

The Creator has created each person as a unique creation. We artists create as a reflection of what has been poured into us. As we create, we reveal our uniqueness. What she said gives me much to ponder.

I guess this reaffirms to me that artmaking is about intent -- that is, what the artist intends to make and what that reveals about himself/herself. The difference between a random camera randomly clicking the shutter and an artist taking a picture because they wanted to -- even if the resulting photograph is the same.

6/12/2007 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Problem is she doesn't know how to communicate her art to the gallerinas or curators and doesn't have an agent (yet) to help her do it. Generally, if you can't talk up your art in the commercial world of biennales, etc, you're out.

When she finds an agent that perhaps also advises her on some crops, frames and gallerina lingo, she will accrue art-value.
-stefan

6/13/2007 06:57:00 AM  
Anonymous House of rats said...

George said:
"Come on, we can accept a urinal as art, why are these photographs such a problem?"

I think this gets to the heart of the "definition of art and artist" issue now. The more art can be ANYTHING the narrower the definition must be (to ensure is specialness). As anyone who's tried to get a gallery knows--anything goes in the art world...except THEIR work!

As for Felice Frankel being an illustrator vs scientist vs artist--maybe that will be sorted out with the perspective of history. I have no problem seeing it as art OR all three. No reason they have to be mutually exclusive.

One more thing--that post by J made my day!!

6/13/2007 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Short of that model, you have to accept every one who self-declares to be an artist at their word and move on to the question of whether their art is any good or not, IMHO, measured with the acquaintance of good taste, sense, and a little after-dinner nuance, perhaps.
Eh, how do you tell if something is any good?


Umm...I'm not sure how to respond to that. Meaning, I'm not sure if your comments follow directly from what I wrote (in which case I feel you've misunderstood me) or what you tacked onto what I wrote (which might just be the way the text wrapped, but seems to be a bit of mind reading/projection).

My position has not changed one bit. I've maintained that there are no criteria by which anyone other than the individual can declare anyone else an artist or not. None.

Just because one believes oneself an artist don't make it so.

Nothing else makes it so. Short of being conscripted into the service of making artisan-like products (and even that doesn't make someone an Artist), it's ludicrous to suggest any other criteria by which that definition can be made. Was there a point after which he took up the brush that Picasso became an artist by other people's standards? And before that he was what? (a pre-artist?) Was he annointed as such by some board or committee? After a glowing review? When? And after that, on a later day when he made crap, was he reduced to some non-artist state again, and after that when he made great work again did he regain his artist status again? Who was keeping score? What criteria did they use?

The only logical/consistent determination by others in any of this is whether or not what he made was good. That, and that alone, is the criteria by which everyone else can discuss someone else's output that they call "art."

I know I'm seemingly inconsistent on this with regards to propaganda. I don't consider that art. But even there I would eventually concede (after trying to get the artist to see why I considered it propaganda) that if the artist insisted it was art, that's what it was. My only valid follow-up would be whether, as art, it was any good or not. No points for guessing that determination.

6/13/2007 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Ethan said...


-j. sez:

Just because one believes oneself an artist don't make it so.


I'd definitely agree that just because one believes oneself to be good artist, it isn't necessarily so. But I think we need to be more generous/humble about drawing lines about who is and isn't an artist.

Something to keep in mind, most of America would consider Sunday painter's work art and contemporary art not art. I think it is short-sighted for artists (& contemporary art lovers) to take part in the "that's not art" nastiness and legitimate the sentiment (which would be most often used on us).

6/13/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only in America can someone say "I want to be an artist" and then they are. I cannot say "I am a lawyer" then I am. It has to be acknowledged by a combination of either my credentials and time actually being spent practicing.

Just like any other occupation, someone cannot be an occupation unlkess 2 criteria are met:
1) they are actively doing that thing for the majority of their time
2)Peers and the general public acknowledge that person, wether in conversation or writing, as said occupation (in this case artist)

for example:
person 1: what does bubbles la bub do?
person 2: Bubbles is an artist!
person 1: How do you know?
person 2: What do you mean? That is what they DO.

This is the reality:
Zubbles la zub: I declare myself an artist! Why? Because I said so!

I think that title is for other people to bestow upon you, then, and only then, casn you start calling yourself anything.

6/13/2007 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Just like any other occupation, someone cannot be an occupation unlkess 2 criteria are met:
1) they are actively doing that thing for the majority of their time
2)Peers and the general public acknowledge that person, wether in conversation or writing, as said occupation (in this case artist)


Thanks for offering actual criteria (finally, someone does). But I have a few problems with them.

Before those problems, however, let me note that I assume by "occupation" you mean "any activity in which a person is engaged" and NOT "a person's usual or principal work or business, esp. as a means of earning a living; vocation." Otherwise, a whole slew of people calling themselves "artists" wouldn't be.

First, define "majority of their time." Is someone who gets into their studio only 3 hours a day, because they work 8 hours a day at a desk job, not an artist? What if this defintion conflicts with the second one (i.e., peers and the general public describe someone as "an artist" but they chose not to spend the majority of their time making art). What do you call them?

And secondly, what about the unknown "artist" toiling away in obscurity. There's nothing written or spoken about their work. Are they then not an artist despite the masterpieces piling up in their studio? If public recognition is truly required BEFORE someone is an "artist," what do we call someone without any public recognition? Someone who can't spend the majority of their time making their work? Like Mark notes in the first comment up top, a term here would be helpful.

6/13/2007 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

Edward,

You're not being inconsistent with respect to propaganda. Art can exist in a pure form. "Art for art's sake." Anything within the art which removes it from this pure form is subject to questioning.

Propaganda is created more to send a political message than an artistic (aesthetic) one. A person can create a political message artistically, or create a politically-inspired work of art, but the further you get from "pure art," the more you open yourself to question.

The same goes for "scientific art." Frankel's works may be considered one step removed from "pure art" ... if ... she happens to be bound by non-aesthetic constraints like, for example, needing to demonstrate (a.k.a. illustrate) certain scientific phenomenon.

George misunderstood my points above so I guess I wasn't clear. Frankel might be different from Adams, because Adams had more latitude to express himself aesthetically, without needing to contextualize his work or consider anything but pure aesthetics in executing his pieces. But like a political artist -- or artistic politician -- once you constrain yourself by requiring that your work show something other than pure aesthetics, you are in danger of diluting the "artiness" of your work.

Important notice for all strawmen hunters: I am not drawing lines or writing definitions. Take your strawman guns somewhere else. I am observing a continuum that I think is easily seen in the human environment.

The question of Picasso can be answered by George's comparison to a pilot. Contrary to what was said above, you don't get to call yourself a pilot. You recieve a license from the government. ou don't get to call yourself an artist. You get a "license" from the crowds.

We let people call themselves artists because there's no harm in it. There are no professional qualifications or regulations, like needing to be able to transport 300 living souls 1,500 miles at 500 mph and 30,000 feet. But Sotheby's or White Cube isn't going to sell your work just cuz you said so.

We don't let people call themselves investors just because they own a couple shares of Apple, or, if we do, we certainly do invest the word with as much meaning as we would when we apply it to Warren Buffett.

6/13/2007 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

Until recently anyone could proclaim themselves a lawyer. Just as now anyone can proclaim themselves a psychic or healer or writer. As a profession develops, degrees and certifications develop to insure that those who know something can prevent those who don't from calling themselves by the same title.

My aunt calls herself an artist. She paints daily, sells her work, has shows in her small town. The fact that her work would maybe have been "fresh" seventy years ago is beside the point. It is analogous to the person who plays the organ in her church - that person is a musician. Their art, though, is not on the same level as Rothko and Gould. I think it's easier to apply baseball terms - she's perpetually in an A league team.

6/13/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

We don't let people call themselves investors just because they own a couple shares of Apple,

I almost agree with you Henry, except, again, I feel quality assessment (rather than quantity assessment) can do the heavy lifting here. One hit wonders are no less "artists" than those who struggle a lifetime without ever gaining much recognition, in my opinion. David W. Galenson wrote about this in a paper you have to pay to read, but here's the abstract:

How can minor artists produce major works of art? This paper considers 13 modern visual artists, each of whom produced a single masterpiece that dominates the artist's career. The artists include painters, sculptors, and architects, and their masterpieces include works as prominent as the painting American Gothic, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. In each case, these isolated achievements were the products of innovative ideas that the artists formulated early in their careers, and fully embodied in individual works.

Now, clear Wood, Rogers and Piano, and Lin might object to this classification, but the point remains that one can create one major piece and retain one's claim to the "artist" moniker, no?

6/13/2007 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Hungry Hyaena said...

I tend to side with Edward here, if only because of the artist-working-in-obscurity example. A creative person can be an artist without an audience; for that matter, a creative person can be an artist without believing themselves to be one. What about the ever expanding canon of "outsiders"?

As for social/community value...that can come later, although there are awesome questions attached to the real value of "fine art," especially in our era of hysterical consumption.

In any case, there seem to be two conversations here, one about what defines an "artist" and the other about what defines an artist in the contemporary market. The two highlighted comments below made me go all Linda Blair, which my co-workers didn't appreciate.

Stefan wrote: Problem is she doesn't know how to communicate her art to the gallerinas or curators and doesn't have an agent (yet) to help her do it. Generally, if you can't talk up your art in the commercial world of biennales, etc, you're out. When she finds an agent that perhaps also advises her on some crops, frames and gallerina lingo, she will accrue art-value.

Tim wrote: We all know that the success of an artist depends on how hard that artist is willing to work at it. Not at making work, but at making the work known and respected....The artist has to be out there representing...Art is also a business. That is the way it is.

(Bold mine.) It appears the Art World has gone the way of the recording industry; it's time artists find a way to work around it, or at least to work with the industry while still maintaining a comfortable distance. As Gregory Amenoff wrote in his Letter to a Young Artist - and I'm paraphrasing here - "You might have to play with the wolves, but you don't have to let them into the studio."

6/13/2007 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Artist, pilot, carpenter. ( APC )

All three are professions, not a special state of existence.

It is one thing for a person to ‘believe’ they are an APC and stating this belief. The persons belief is an internal state of mind and if one is willing to accept the other persons declaration, then it is true that they believe they are an APC I think this is the same as Ed’s position.

In the real world of ‘professions’ it is one thing to state you are an APC, and quite another to be considered an APC by others, competent or not. This in someways relates to the question of whether their art is any good or not The danger here is that the ‘external’ world may not necessarily be able to correctly make this judgement. Unlike hanging a door, or landing an airplane, the results of an artists actions are not necessarily subject to a strictly defined metric for success. In fact, the metric for success seems to change over time without negative results, where a door must close or not, and a plane must land or crash.

The lack of a precise and stable metric for judging the ‘success’ of an artist’s output may suggest that the culture is not specifically viewing the ‘output’ as the signifier which makes the artist an artist.

Eric says "The Creator has created each person as a unique creation. We artists create as a reflection of what has been poured into us. As we create, we reveal our uniqueness. What she said gives me much to ponder.
I guess this reaffirms to me that artmaking is about intent -- that is, what the artist intends to make and what that reveals about himself/herself.
"

It may be that it is not so much the specifics of what the artist ‘reveals about themselves’ which holds the fascination of the culture. Rather the culture may revere and be fascinated by the action of the artist who is making a declaration of their unique identity within the culture, a culture which must homogenize the individual in the pursuit of stability.

Therefore, it is both the declaration "I am an artist" and the action of ‘proving it’ within the culture, that ultimately defines art. This activity may be mediated by the "gallery owners, curators, collectors and writers" but its power exists solely in the hands of the artist. You can not buy, or sell, or talk about, or collect, or exhibit, or curate, something which is not there.

* * *
Henry, re: because Adams had more latitude to express himself aesthetically, without needing to contextualize his work or consider anything but pure aesthetics in executing his pieces

I don’t think I misunderstood you, I’ suggesting you are making a biased assumption about the artists working process, and what decision making processes are valid, or more important than others. I do not think such a view can be validated historically, for every ‘one way’ to do it, another artist will find another way. Every focused vision will be constrained by a set of limitations, the ability to act creatively functions within these limitations.

6/13/2007 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous eric said...

Ed, what would you think of adding to your definition “...also, one is an artist if others deem him/her to be one”? I’m sure this could open its own problems, but is it really rational to say Darger isn’t an artist because he didn’t think himself so? ...when so many people appreciate his art? Also, seems that we could appreciate Ms. Frankel’s art, even if she doesn’t call it “art” per se.

6/13/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Eric, I'm keeping an open mind (with regards to refining my definition) when it comes to Darger. Currently I'd have to conclude that he wasn't an artist, despite how we now treasure his output, but I consider my thinking here a (potential) work in progress. It's also possible, to my mind, anyway, that I'm absolutely right about this, mind you. ;-)

6/13/2007 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My quip is that when Ed manages to hold on to the thread it comes back to some unspeakable voice of reason, where, in steadfast declaration, there is none.
Reason finds itself at the point where it is.
Antidotes merely declare that the point 'of reason' is in lack, or is bereft, or is without travel towards reason, a kind of non-declaration observation where the speaker is clearly unable to speak what he or she reasons, though wishes to speak through the antidote at a level we call reason.

So what is your niggling point Ed?

6/13/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Not sure I entirely understand, 11:40:00 anonymous.

Do you mean "anecdote"? I'll confess that anecdotes are a poor substitute for reason, but I think in the dialog of blogs they are often more suitable for keeping things flowing. In other words, often I use them because the point isn't necessarily (or my point, anyway) to convince anyone of anything as much as it is to encourage folks to offer their opinions.

6/13/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

Edward,

Now, clear[ly] Wood, Rogers and Piano, and Lin might object to this classification, but the point remains that one can create one major piece and retain one's claim to the "artist" moniker, no?

No disagreement at all. I should have been more clear. I was not trying to make an argument to quantity in any way.

By saying "a couple of shares of Apple" I was trying to make an argument of commitment, intent, and even quality, Apple being a famous company, which doesn't require a lot of sophisticated research to identify, "a couple shares" indicating a peripheral involvement, as opposed to a committed pursuit of quality.

A person might own "a couple shares of Apple" for perfectly good reasons -- they believe in the company and they can only afford a couple of shares -- but I was talking about the 99-44/100% of the cases where such investing would be considered frivolous.

6/13/2007 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

More than one of my friends who dislike others using the designation "artist" explain their reason as being "I have sacrificed a lot to make art and why should I share the title with someone who just wants to be alternative, dress in black, and go to openings."

I can understand the complaint... I think this is an issue of matter of degree (e.g., professional, hobbyist, etc.) rather than "artist/not-artist". To go back to the pilot analogy, it's like airline pilots, piper-cub pilots, and fighter pilots all arguing about who really flies planes.

6/13/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

George,

I’[m] suggesting you are making a biased assumption about the artists working process, and what decision making processes are valid, or more important than others.

That's not what I intended to say at all. I don't have any sympathy for this "restatement" of my comments whatsoever.

I am making what I hope is an objective observation about an art viewer's acceptance process. There is an image in the world which is almost purely aesthetic and almost completely non-dogmatic. Likewise, there is an image in the world which is almost purely dogmatic and almost completely inartistic.

(Substitute "scientific" or "illustrative" for "dogmatic," as needed. And perhaps nothing in the real world is as really so pure as this, but I'm sure there are examples which come close enough for the sake of argument.)

Between those two extreme cases, there are different viewers -- and different artists -- who will each draw different dividing lines to suit themselves. The closer the artist's work comes to the pole of "pure art," the less likely someone will engage in a hand-wringing argument like this one about it.

And I also don't give a damn about Adams's or Frankel's working processes.

All I'm saying is that Frankel's images may require more effort on the part of the viewer to interpret and accept them, and, if Frankel's has a conceptual basis or a set of non-aesthetic intentions which require her to take her eye away from aesthetic considerations for even one moment whatsoever -- thus moving her art away from the "pure" pole of "art for art's sake" -- then viewers will detect it, and would be perfectly justified in taking those deviations into account, just like they would take shape and color into account.

If you put it on the table, you put it into play. That's it.

6/13/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You'll see no end to your task if you take it upon yourself to correct my grammar Henry. ;-P

I want to agree that frivolousness disqualifies someone from being an artist, I really do, but then I get all tangled up in the notion that quantifying involvement is rife with its own problems.

My overarching concern (what anonymous might have been refering to as my niggling point) is illutrated by the case in consideration here: namely, that someone producing what they consider art is bullied into redefining it by someone with their own agenda/definitions. I see no need to consider that response valid when it's easy enough to permit self-declaration, thereby greater and wider encouragement, and let quality separate out the wheat from the chafe, so to speak.

6/13/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous -j. said...

Ethan sez:

I'd definitely agree that just because one believes oneself to be good artist, it isn't necessarily so. But I think we need to be more generous/humble about drawing lines about who is and isn't an artist. (emphasis added)

To be clear, I don't think I'm drawing lines and passing judgements on anyone's immediate merits.

The naked truth being that an artist within society transcends an individual's intention. Anon 9:46AM has packaged this into his/her criterium #2.

Acknowledging this cold reality is humbling. It opens to door to sparring matches between faith and doubt.

The collective consciousnesses spare none. I've yet to meet anyone, artist or otherwise, thick skinned enough to ignore those voices entirely, detached enough to never recognize them. We are all due at least one Sally Field's moment before we die.

I believe I'm an artist. I think I'm a pretty good artist. But the reality might be that I'm fooling myself. Maybe my work sucks so bad that it ultimately surrenders any relevance.

Zeno's paradox is a lie. Some bad art can be so negligable, so forgettable, so unperceivable that it might as well have never existed. Just like in calculus, when lim -> 0 (the limit of a term approaches zero), for all intents and purposes, it becomes 0.

***

A different avenue, when does one stop being an artist? I'm so busy rehabbing a building currently that I've taken a self-declared leave of absence from my practice. (2 days in the studio each month is just not enough IMHO.) Now that I've declared myself on hiatus, am I no longer an artist? Or simply because I keep a few long term projects on simmer, am I obliged this title? What if I have more time on my hands and begin putting in several days a week during this self declared hiatus? Am I an artist then? Even if I continue, for sanity's sake, refuse to declare myself one? Or was Motherwell right all along? Is an artist merely a personality type? Do the unfulfilled, unexercised and unexorcised compulsions to observe, explore, invent and craft keep me in the club? And what about the 12+ years worth of work clogging up a storage locker that I continue exhibitting during this hiatus? Does that still validate me? What if I stopped showing it? What if I burned it all?

Naw. I just don't buy it. There is more to this being an artist stuff than self-declaration or the lack thereof. There are many other qualitative criteria--even if ill defined.

***

And Ed, with all due respect, Picasso? C'mon man, that's cherry picking and you know it! A discussion of whether or not Picasso was an artist is akin to a Platonic debate over whether or not a biplane is an aircraft. You know full well this discussion of "what makes an artist" is occuring at the liminal margins amongst the rocket ships, hang gliders and dragonflies.

6/13/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous -j. said...

ack. gotta play catch up here.

y'all type too fast. the discussion may have moved well beyond my most recent post.

that's what I get for writing from mars. damn 6.5 minute delay!

6/13/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Hungry Hyaena said...

Something's in the water.

A related discussion - but one mostly involving people of the scientific persuasion - is here.

As a commenter there writes,

"Does that mean 'anything' can be art. Yes. Does that mean that 'eveything' is? No. There has to be a sincere intention on the part of the author, and the viewer must derive some aesthetic satisfaction, or at acknowledgement of an aesthetic experience (which is even harder to define, but in general one could call it pleasure or at least novelty arising from sensory input) which is somehow related to the author's intentions.

It might be better to think of it less as 'is it art?' than as 'has art just happened?', as in, 'has a deal been struck.' It's something that happens as a product of human communication...

You may not 'accept the deal,' i.e. you may have no aesthetic reaction to it at all-- but others will, and do. Which means that even though the deal hasn't been struck with you, it has for others, and so it does get to be called art.

Now, whether it's good art, is a whole other question....So, is science art, in general? No. There is not the intention on the part of the researcher for the work to bring aesthetic pleasure. But to take the physical markings of scientific data, chrts and graphs and such, and to hold them up for contemplation for their aesthetic value, that could be considered art. It's like the enjoyment many of us get from seeing Asian calligraphy-- we may not be able to understand it, but perhaps we appreciate the shapes more because we don't understand it."


My day job has me working in a laboratory, assisting with the writing of scientific grants, so I spend a lot of time with researchers. A great many of them make artwork in their spare time, some of it quite stimulating, intellectually exciting if not always aesthetically pleasing.

The link between science and art is curious, and I find it silly - if not altogether surprising - that the two approaches to understanding and appreciating our world/universe so often find themselves at philosophical loggerheads. The best scientists and artists are similarly moved by Nature. The tool kits are just a bit different.

6/13/2007 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Edward, you are so frustrating, but 'whaleboat', we are two thirds the way there. Next is this thing called quality, how should we deduce it [canon of the inexplicable}, or, can we ready ourselves to stumble upon it?
But let's keep that for a rainy day perhaps.

6/13/2007 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous -j. said...

All I'm saying is that Frankel's images may require more effort on the part of the viewer to interpret and accept them, and, if Frankel's has a conceptual basis or a set of non-aesthetic intentions which require her to take her eye away from aesthetic considerations for even one moment whatsoever -- thus moving her art away from the "pure" pole of "art for art's sake" -- then viewers will detect it...

There's some willful amnesia going on regarding Adams. He embraced rigid constraints--both philosophic and aesthetic--in Group f/64. If you recall, that gang was the Dogma 95/Hudson River School mashup of 1932.

6/13/2007 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

The closer the artist's work comes to the pole of "pure art," the less likely someone will engage in a hand-wringing argument like this one about it.

I see your point, it was also the argument used against POP Art in the 1960’s

6/13/2007 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

Edward - I hear you. We're never going to catch every case.

One of our software developers is extremely precise. One of our product managers gets upset when that developer "goes all six-sigma on me." No need to go six-sigma on this one. :-)

-j and George: Very interesting! If art like Frankel's catches on with a wider audience (and viewers become more accustomed to it), she may be seen as a pioneer.

6/13/2007 01:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comparison of an artist to a pilot or surgeon is less applicable than an artist to an art dealer. Self definition and determination/intent seem essential to both.

6/13/2007 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous cb said...

i'm pretty late on the comments here and this may already have been mentioned but it the second image shown reminds me of Robert Seidel's film clips like this one for Jose Gonzalez.

http://www.2minds.de/futures.html

Sorry for not contributing to the debate as such

6/13/2007 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think an important thing to remember is how long it took the pioneering photographers of the 19th century to become regarded as "artists". People regarded photography as a science and not an art form with technique or standards of design that are followed. As a painter and a photographer, I look at photography as simply another tool that I may use to get my ideas across. Someone mentioned above that she is giving too much power to the galleries and I agree. Sounds like they may have the mentality of those in the 1850's-not remembering that art crosses too many boundaries nowadays, Re: the new degrees that are popping up called "Interdisciplinary Art Degrees"?.

6/14/2007 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Sroka said...

Ethan said: More than one of my friends who dislike others using the designation "artist" explain their reason as being "I have sacrificed a lot to make art and why should I share the title with someone who just wants to be alternative..."

Well, if they wanted to be a part of an exclusive group, they should've entered a field with a higher threshold for admittance, like brain surgery. Art is such a broad concept, that when you decide to become an artist, you have to understand that you'll be sharing that title with a lot of people who you do not consider qualified.

6/14/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Frankel has had some distinguished predecessors who faced the same issues. In the book, Recollections by Margaretta K. Mitchell, Ruth Bernard said when she started doing fashion and advertising work in the 1930's, she never would have gone near it if she had thought of photography as one of the arts. In the 1940's she spent a year photographing seashells. Later, she decided what she was doing was art.
Bernice Abbott began photographing scientific subjects in the 1950's. She said, "I have always wanted to understand why artists don't understand scientists and scientists don't undertand artists. They really need to work toether, even though they are so unlike in many ways."
Frankel may come back one day to the idea that she is doing art, but it probably doesn't matter very much.

6/15/2007 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger aurix said...

"In the second place, her images are not full of emotion or ideology or any other kind of message. As she says, “My stuff is about phenomena.”

I think we've been here before, the so-called 'straight' photography. and we all know how deceptive the term can be.

i agree with you that it's a shame that she seems to have allowed the gallery system define art for her.

a larger question is also how/why someone's work gets picked to be exhibited in a commercial gallery.

6/17/2007 01:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Dick Tracy said...

No. One must live. It was simply because I didn't have enough money. One must do something to eat. Eating, always eating, and painting for the sake of painting, are two different things. Both can certainly be done simultaneously, without one destroying the other. And then, I didn't attach much importance to selling them.

10/22/2008 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous inchirieri apartamente cluj said...

Art for non-artist is whatever is beautiful, and looks natural. That's what I think. For me is art a picture of the sunset that recreates the experience of a sunset. It's art a painting that illustrates a boy eating waterlemon, and his face is red due to the waterlemon's juice.

On the other hand, I have to agree, from what I know, that "What makes something 'art' is also more about the gallery owners, curators, collectors and writers. ". I agree with Stephen when he says this because as an artist you need financial resources in order to have a decent life and promote yourself. It is hard to be successful from the begining. Most artists become famous after they are gone...and so gallery owners & co are the ones that need to be impressed, that need to consider an artist's work art in order to be promoted, and earn a living.

9/08/2010 07:06:00 AM  
Anonymous news games said...

I don't think that ego is the primary component of "art" I think that my belive it is in the other side like the artist reveals himself with less ego in art.

9/20/2010 11:42:00 AM  

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