Thursday, February 15, 2018

pictorialism: photography as art

Edward Steichen, Pond, 1904
Photographers began to question the equation of photographic reality and perceptual reality (Paul Spencer Sternberger's Between Amateur and Aesthete: Photography in America 1800-1900 (University of Mexico Press, 2001). This is the most expensive photograph auctioned so far, by American photographer Edward Steichen (Pond, New York City, 1904), which sold for 2.9 million in February 2006. At some point photographers deliberately made their photographs look like productions of other graphic media, most often prints. This superficial similarity to the representational quality of accepted media was a direct appeal to artistic tradition: the photograph had the look of an etching; an etching is art; so the photograph was art [...] Other antiphotographic strategies were more sophisticated both in their professed relation to art and in the means by which they sought to justify this relation.

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Clarence White, The Watcher, 1906

Julia Margaret Cameron, Sadness (1864), a portrait of Ellen Terry, the American actress
Heinrich Künh (1907-10)
Pierre Dubreil, L'Opera, 1909

Frederick Evans portrait of Aubrey Beardsley, 1894