Reality, Color, Appeal

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Reality, Color, Appeal

From Iian Neill

Published before 2005


Brian Yoder: I thought I said that a photograph of a young girl knitting would be boring. If I didn't then that's what I intended to say.

The only qualification I might offer (if I can butt in) is that there are clearly photographs of lesser or greater quality. A documentary photograph of a knitting girl might indeed be fairly banal. But one taken by a photographer with a feeling for the poetry of light and shadow, who has made some effort at arrangement, has studied his model carefully to capture an expressive moment, etc., would be more artistic.

I do not think it could ever become art in the fullest sense - because it is ultimately not founded on drawing - but it might be artistic or interesting in other ways.

I think you're on to something there with 'interest' as a criterion for art. It could be taken in two senses. The plain sense, which is what I think you meant, is simply that the artist has more scope in arranging elements in the picture. His imagination is freer because his medium is subtle and responsive; whereas the photographer's is relatively fixed. Another sense, related, might be that a painting has more compass for the expression of 'ideas of sensation' (as every touch of the brush communicates some quality of thought or feeling) and is therefore more interesting than the photograph. The interest comes from the expressive richness of the artwork. Line, colour, modelling, brushwork, texture, etc., all contribute to this richness. In comparison, the photo is impoverished, therefore banal and uninteresting.

What do you think?

-- Iian