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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Comments

"Some of the pieces my imaginary anthology would contain are available online, however..."

Mike, I (and surely many others) would be very grateful for some links.

That's a great article on the Hine "vintage" prints; I read it avidly when it was first published. The Rosenblums evidently picked the wrong mark in Mattis, who turned out to be relentless and resourceful in researching the prints once his suspicion was aroused.

I've never quite comprehended the art market's fetish for vintage prints. David Vestal pungently notes that he's embarrassed by the poor quality of his earlier prints compared to more recent products of his mature skill. The same is surely true of the work of other luminaries. The earliest iterations of a photographer's recognized masterpieces are often the weakest, printed on inferior materials with limited skill. The artist's mature work is almost always technically far superior. Yet the market values a tattered, dog-eared work print, stained and fading from inadequate washing, higher than an immaculate later print from the hand of the artist. I just can't get my head around the idea.

"Too much of a good thing" is a cautionary tale in many ways, but primarily it's a warning of what happens when people (the art market) put the importance of the print before the importance of the image.

You could put those few links you have on a separate page and put a link to it on the sidebar.

(Or so 37 of us will have said by the time you moderate this post. :)

I would very much welcome links to Mike's imaginary anthology.

For now, though, others may be interested in learning that Eric Ethridge has posted PDFs of a couple of truly terrific (and long out-of-print or otherwise difficult to find) critical essays by Tod Papageorge (occasional visitor to TOP?) on his blog, as part of some sort of "Missing Criticism" project.

This is the link to Papageorge's essay on Robert Adams:

http://ericetheridge.com/wordblog/archives/2008/04/the_missing_cri_1.html

and this is the link to his essay on Walker Evans and Robert Frank:

http://ericetheridge.com/wordblog/archives/2007/08/the_missing_cri.html

Along the same lines, I recently purchased (via Amazon) Vicki Goldberg's anthology, "Photography in Print," which seems to have loads of great stuff.

Mike, add me to the long list (once the comments show up) of people requesting that you put together a PDF with those essays. All proceeds from its sale can go towards paying your legal fees when you get sued by the authors.

This raises the question in my mind of how today's inkjet prints will be valued thirty or more years from now. Will collectors still be concerned whether the paper and inks are of the proper vintage? And imagine how much easier it will be for unscrupulous sellers to make a few extra copies of a digital file let behind by the photographer. Will it still be when the image was printed that matters most or will there be some other way of valuing photographs? All I know for sure is that I won't be around to find out.

Interesting article -- I had no idea!
It just reinforces the oldest mantra about buying any kind of art: "buy it because you love it, not because it may become more valuable."
I have no sympathy for someone who buys a photograph as an investment, then complains that they paid too much -- nobody twisted their arm.

"I have no sympathy for someone who buys a photograph as an investment, then complains that they paid too much -- nobody twisted their arm."

But surely you can have some sympathy for a person who is told, by a person who is supposed to be an impartial expert, that he is buying one thing, when in fact he is buying another thing altogether, and the expert is not impartial at all, but a confidence man. No?

Mike

Great article, and I'm in favour of your not compiling a list of your recommended reads - or anthology if you prefer, at least not right away. Better to reveal them in dribs and drabs so as not to overwhelm us. Better to keep us coming back for more. As it is, I'll be busy reading the articles Yuanchung Lee linked to for a while.

"But surely you can have some sympathy for a person who is told, by a person who is supposed to be an impartial expert, that he is buying one thing, when in fact he is buying another thing altogether, and the expert is not impartial at all, but a confidence man. No?"

If the two things are otherwise indistinguishable, then I for one not only have no sympathy, but have a hard time objecting to anyone taking advantage of such a person. It's precisely the appropriate consequence for divorcing art from content.

I just finished reading the article over a nice cup of tea. In the end I'm left thinking, like others, that you should buy a photograph for what it represents (i.e., the image itself), not for the status it may have.

I would never pay thousands of dollars for an original Ansel Adams if I could get the very same photograph, printed identically by somebody else, for $40. Then again, I can't even afford to upgrade my camera—maybe I would think differently if I had thousands of spare dollars in my bank account.

Great article.

"Another factor casting doubt on the authenticity of all these "vintage" Hines is that many look eerily like Rosenblum's own photographs. The Chicago dealer Alan Koppel first pointed out the likeness, to the Santa Fe dealer Andrew Smith at an Association of International Photography Art Dealers show at the New York Hilton in February of 1999. Smith had a gorgeous print of Hine's Three Riveters hanging in his booth. Koppel stopped by and observed that the Rosenblum photographs he had seen and the Hine prints that dealers had bought from the Rosenblums had a "similar tonality—the same clean, hard surface and cold grays.""

Connoisseurship is a good thing; you know, looking and seeing. Which are not the same.

"since I had a very public row with Walter Rosenblum in the pages of a magazine long ago"

Oh, do tell, do do!

Who is Calvin Amari?

"Who is Calvin Amari?"

A passing squid. Floats by here every so often.

Mike

(P.S. Don't tell I told, but calamari is the "nom-de-web" of a big-time photography collector. He will deny that adjective.)

Yay for a "Top 10 recommended essays about photography".

As long as #2 is revealed a month later.

I would like to wring the neck of the honking canard that I'm a big-time photo collector. Consider me instead simply a reminder to Mike that there commonly exist creatures with brains only one-sixth the size of their ink sacs.

- Calvin Amari

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