A few Thoughts on Art and Photography as Art
14.12.11The idea behind this article, is not to present any definitions on Art, but to share some thoughts I have on the issue. Already at school I was lucky to have the history of Art as a subject and I also learned to practise different methods of Art, like drawing, painting, engraving for intaglio, lithography, linocut and some more. In my opinion the school was wise to offer this subjects in an early age and helped me develop some skills that have enriched my life and helped me see.
Just recently a couple of galleries rejected to show my photographs because I am not educated at one of the recognized academies in Norway. To be autodidact does not count as Art. If a gallery would expose the work of an “amateur”, then the “pro”s would not exhibit anymore … there is no Art for Arts sake, only the Art of the guild of Artists. So if I don´t have the education from an academy of Art, my work is not artistic … although it is selling and it is appreciated.
When I am looking at the photography as Art, I discover two different kinds of Art. Or maybe it is possible to count three. One kind is the photography itself, the skill behind the shooting and post processing to show a motive that is seen and perceived by the photographer as he finds it. The second kind is where the motive is made and then shot. Here I am wondering if not only the motive is to be counted as Art and not the photography. I would anyhow see this as to different disciplines of Art.
To exemplify what I mean I will refer to a series of photos I saw in the French magazine “Photo”. There I saw many beautiful landscapes from some Islands, maybe from the Caribbean. But in all photos you saw a naked woman. I am then tempted to ask where is it possible to walk through a landscape and find a naked women there? Without doubt they where placed there by the photographer. It means then that to place the naked woman somewhere in the landscape is the Art, but not the photo itself. For me to shoot a landscape and show it as it is, or to show the emotion of a landscape, would be the Art of photography I am searching for. Not to make something to shoot that I have not seen, or that is not there in reality. It is not the Art I want to make, although I think the Art of still life motives could be interesting. But then one has to construct the motive before shooting.
Maybe the third form of Art would be to shoot persons posing for the photographer, the portraits. Here the motive is “made”, but also the skill of the photographer is essential to transmit the personality of the person portrayed. It could be understood as a mix of the two above mentioned forms. This is an Art of photography I have not tried out so far.
When I had my first exhibition in Norway in August 2011, a photographer present at the opening gave me the feedback on my photos that he was happy to see photos that where seeking to show the beauty and not pornography nor obscene motives. Many artists sadly have an adolescent attitude towards their election of motives and are making their Art quite boring and uninteresting.
A friend of mine is a painter. She tried to enter the Norwegian Academy of Art in Oslo, but was rejected because her Art was not provocative enough. To me this was a strange argument. Of course there are moments when it would be timely for an artist to offer some kind of provocation, but it in my opinion it can't be the meaning of making Art. It would be to childish. It is the privilege of teenagers to provoke the grown-ups, but later in the life of a person, I think the Art should grow to something more deeper and greater. Art should be understood in a wider way.
Very important to make true Art is of course the skill of the relevant handicraft and the knowledge of methods. I am sure this a counted as a conservative statement, but I think it is necessary to come to a convincing expression of Art. Further I think it is important to have an aim with the Art, and I don't think it has to be provocative. To me it is very legit for instance to seek the deeper meaning of existence or the beauty of the Creation as we can discover it. Art should have the capacity to transcend reality for higher understanding. The Art should move the viewer in the soul to see a fullness that is not always easy to spot in the life of every day.
Of course it is not an easy task to undertake and I think the Artist should see the Art as a gift from God to enrich the persons perceiving the Art, first most in the inner life. I think every branch of Art is able to do this.
Why? I believe it is because all beauty has its well in Gods inner life. The creation can transcend this beauty when the perceiving person is lead to it by the Artist. In this sense the Artist can understand the talent and the mission of Art as gift from God meant to lighten up our existence and open it for higher meaning. All gifts from God are given for the good of all and should be used with care and love.
2nd version revised and updated 14th of December 2011