Aesthetics Of Photography Essay Research Paper Status

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Aesthetics Of Photography Essay, Research Paper Status of Photography Paul Weiss (1961), in his Book Nine Basic Arts, classifies the nine basic arts as architecture, sculpture, painting, musicry, story, poetry, music, theater, and dance. Photography is not highly regarded by Weiss. In the last chapter he says, “They (photographers) have little and sometimes even no appreciation of the aesthetic values of experience. And when they do have such appreciation it is rarely relevant to their purposes. One need not…be an artist to use a camera with brilliance.” (pp.216, 218) Despite the fact that painters such as Manet and Degas were highly influenced by photography, throughout art history photography has been considered less valuable and less important than painting,

sculpture, dance, and drama. When photography appeared in the last two centuries, it was hardly recognized as fine art. Around the l850s a cartoonist named Nadar drew two cartoons to humorously depict photography. The first cartoon shows that Mr. Photography asks for just a little place in the exhibition of fine arts. In the second picture, Mr Painting kicks Photography out angrily (Rosenblum, 1984). In 1859 the French government finally yielded to the consistent pressure applied by the Society of French photographers and its supporters. A salon of photography formed a part of the yearly exhibitions held in Paris. The photographs were described as though they were works by hand, inevitably compared with paintings, and the same standards of appraisal appear. A landscape

photograph, noted one critic, had the elegant look of a Theodore Rousseau. A photograph by another photographer was identified with pictures of Holman Hunt (Scharf, 1986). The status of photography as fine art continued to be challenged in the late 19th and early 20th century. When Alfred Stieglitz introduced photography as a form of fine art, a director of a major art museum was skeptical: “Mr. Stiegitz, do you seriously think that photography is fine art?” (Public Broadcasting Services, 2000) The rejection of Stieglitz’s work by painters was even more blatant. Stieglitz said, “Artists who saw my early photographs began to tell me that they envied me; that my photographs were superior to their paintings, but that unfortunately photography was not an art…. I could not

understand why the artists should envy me for my work, yet, in the same breath, decry it because it was machine-made” (cited in Leggat, 1999). In order to differentiate photography from the shadow of painting, Stieglitz encouraged photographers to use photography in the way that the medium could do best, and not “prostitute” the medium by trying to do what other media could do easily (cited in Desmond, 1956, p.54). Besides Stieglitz, other photographers defended the status of photography as a type of fine art. In the beginning of the 20th century, Man Ray went even further to abandon painting and devote himself entirely to photography. He said, “I began as a painter. In photographing my canvases I discovered the value of reproduction in black and white. The day came when

I destroyed the painting and kept the reproduction” (Ray, 19??; cited in National Museum of Art/Aperture, 1994, p.7). Henri Cartier-Bresson is another example. At first he was trained to be a painter. But after taking pictures in Africa, he switched his medium to photograhy because, “the adventure in me felt obligated to testify with a quicker instrument than a brush to the scars of the world” (cited in Squies, 1997, p.48). No doubt Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and many others made photography a school of art. Today many art history books have little or no mention of those great masters. If I ask art majors or art history majors to what school Picasso belongs, every one of them can answer “Cubism” immediately. But if the same question is asked pertaining to Henri