« Tip for Sony RX100 Shooters | Main | Stats »

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Comments

My knowledge of great photographers of the past has grown by one; my Amazon Wish List has grown by two.

Emerson's "Naturalistic Photography" is available in a number of formats from archive.org:

http://archive.org/details/naturalisticphot00emerrich

It's worth a read but for me at least the special pleading on the part of trained artists (read: gentlemen with sensibility) sticks in my throat.

Emerson later gave up photography and declared that it wasn't art. (so did Cartier-Bresson).

"the special pleading on the part of trained artists (read: gentlemen with sensibility) sticks in my throat"

Different era.

Mike

"Emerson later gave up photography and declared that it wasn't art. (so did Cartier-Bresson)"

I don't know that C.-B. did that, so much as he just got old. His kind of photography was a young man's pursuit.

Mike

My gosh, Peter Henry Emerson's photograph, "Confessions" is just wonderful, could be a painting.

Cartier-Bresson always seemed to me to be more of a reporter than an artist; a lot of his most famous works would be what a newspaper photographer might hope to get on a dull day, when the photo editor kicked his ass out of the building and told him to get some feature art.

Is it true that the Newhalls jammed modernism down the throat s of the photographic establishment, and used their position to keep dissenting photographers out of museums and shows and books?

Mike, HCB gave up photography in the 1970s to take up painting and drawing.

"Is it true that the Newhalls jammed modernism down the throat s of the photographic establishment, and used their position to keep dissenting photographers out of museums and shows and books?"

No, it's true that Newhall deplored William Mortensen and A.D. Coleman championed him. I side with Newhall on that.

Mike

Chris,
I'm saying the truth is a bit more nuanced than that.

Mike

Emerson's "Picking The Reed" (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ricking_the_reed.jpg) is one of my all-time favourite photos. Lyrical.

Interesting also that Taschen has a book by the same name, "A History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present" (The George Eastman House Collection) - this is a fine book in its own right, but it doesn't mention Emerson, presumably because Eastman House doesn't have a copy in their collection - or perhaps he just wasn't included in the book. Nancy Wynne Newhall's book on Emerson is referenced in the bibliography.

Wow, look at that shadow detail. Must be film! :)

Hello Mike, I was familiar with this painting (link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/the-bow-net-97850) in my local Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK, some years ago. Then, in the 1990s, I came across Emerson, and 'Setting the Bownet' (http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/190040033?rpp=20&pg=1&rndkey=20121014&ft=*&deptids=19%7c44&what=Metalwork&pos=4). I had suspected the Goodall painting was made from a photograph: the distant scenery has an exquisitely painted boke, making Gary Nylander's comment even closer to the truth and very much in keeping with Emerson's theories of photographic naturalism. It had been pointed out to me, however, on studying the painting, that there was a problem in the way the reflection of the female figure was depicted, being out of alignment and with an impossible hand on the oar; from the photograph we can see the cause as the changed viewpoint. Emerson and Goodall were friends, but the truth of their naturalism was, as you say above, more nuanced. Goodall was well aware of alignment (http://www.photographymuseum.com/emersonrushyshore.html).

This account (http://people.netcom.co.uk/j.stringe/page3.html) also adds some information on their painterly intentions.

Emerson's stated reason for deciding that photography wasn't an art was the work of Hurter and Driffield, who laid out the principles of sensitometry. Before that, Emerson happily believed that the tones in a photograph were infinitely malleable. Somehow, knowing that there were technical limitations to that malleability removed the art from photography.

http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=1724

David

The comments to this entry are closed.