Comments on: Ansel Adams and Abstraction http://abstractcritical.com/note/ansel-adams-and-abstraction/ Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/note/ansel-adams-and-abstraction/#comment-269848 Mon, 14 Oct 2013 09:14:39 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=note&p=6881#comment-269848 Maybe… My point was simple too – that our vision of painting (and sculpture) need not be limited by an addiction to images. No doubt great photographers like Adams thought so too, as he strove to extract meaning from what he saw in the natural world. But in my (biased) opinion, comparing photography to painting is like comparing an apple to a three-course meal. There is no law that says all art-forms are equal in what they can aspire to and achieve. There are, of course, good and bad apples and good and bad three-course meals; but the best of Adams would not compare with the best of any number of great painters…

…and yet, to extend the point further, perhaps to absurdity, it ought to be said that there are any number of contemporary abstract painters who seem content with providing only a repetitive and unfulfilling ‘tasting menu’. I’d rather have an apple.

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By: Janet Forbes http://abstractcritical.com/note/ansel-adams-and-abstraction/#comment-268632 Sat, 12 Oct 2013 23:25:15 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=note&p=6881#comment-268632 Having ventured in both realms (photographic and painting/drawing) and having met and studied with Ansel Adams, I think I can comment on this in an informed way. First, one must understand the history in which Ansel was a character in. Up until just before Ansel’s time, photography had tried to emulate art—i.e. photographers were scratching negatives, deliberately smearing the image and so forth, all in the name of making photography more accepted as an art form. Ansel and his mentors (Paul Strand, Edward Weston as well as others) were all after the goal of using the camera in its most strictest terms to capture an image with as little manipulation (other than standard darkroom techniques) so that photography could be seen as an art form on its own merits–not in how it was manipulated.

However, having said that—I know that Ansel used great skill in the darkroom to bring out the tonal qualities that may not have been captured in the original negative. I also know that he appreciated art work that was not so strict and even envisioned that some day someone might take one of his negatives and create something totally different in the final print. In his day, the work he and others of that genre did was exciting and new and it pushed the old boundaries. Likewise when all the early abstract artists were creating their visions—it was all new and exciting. And it pushed boundaries.

Today—whether it’s Jackson Polluck, or Ansel Adams, their work might seem boring because—what the heck—of course, we’re no longer in that place—we’ve moved on from there. But no matter how it might seem common place, I think we need to honor and respect those who pushed the boundaries before us and recognize them for the pioneering work that they did.

So that would be my first point. My second point is quite simple. The comparison of photography and painting, abstract art and figurative is like comparing apples and oranges; they taste different, they look different, they smell different. We might be drawn more to one over the other, but that doesn’t make them any less fruit. And simply because one is drawn more to a certain genre over another genre doesn’t make any of it less artistic. Does it move us?—I could site many photographs that have moved millions of people and I could site paintings that have moved millions of people. And then there’s always Duchamp’s Toilet—”It’s art because I call it art.” And so the discussion about ‘What is Art’ continues. And I suspect that 100 years from now artists will look back and say how limited our visions were.

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By: Zino Pece http://abstractcritical.com/note/ansel-adams-and-abstraction/#comment-150018 Wed, 01 May 2013 06:15:53 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=note&p=6881#comment-150018 I agree that standards in visual art are not determined by scoring points based on time spent making the work, skill,craft etc. What looks best and what moves us is what counts. At the top end, painting is stronger than photography, which simply cannot compete in terms of colour and tactility, but photography is underrated. It’s reproducible nature, does not render it inferior. As with certain music, it accepts and exploits the fact that it can be duplicated without the loss of quality. A photograph looks good in a book/on screen and is less of a revelation when you see it in the flesh, but a real print is not merely an image. Off course there are many factors in reprinting that can be detrimental, but a good print is not a replica.

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/note/ansel-adams-and-abstraction/#comment-148323 Sun, 28 Apr 2013 17:10:53 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=note&p=6881#comment-148323 Pompous! Moi!!! And bias [sic] too!

I know don’t know too much about photography, but I know enough to understand and agree that there is a lot of skill/craft/art in the production of images as good as Adams produced. But that’s all. If you are saying I am biased in favour of painting and against photography, I am indeed.

No matter how good the photograph, it is only an image. The only way photography can compete or compare with painting is if the painting is in reproduction, thereby also becoming an image. I know this is how we view the world we live in, on the terms demanded by images, which are a great leveller. But painting in the real can be much greater than an image; it can be a revelatory encounter with a physical fact of a kind and to a degree that is unlikely to be matched by photography.

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By: Zino Pece http://abstractcritical.com/note/ansel-adams-and-abstraction/#comment-147113 Sat, 27 Apr 2013 06:21:01 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=note&p=6881#comment-147113 Either Robin Greenwood knows very little about photography or he chooses to ignore the fact that Adams along with numerous other photographers very much used their hands and applied great sensibility to their work. Adams invented the Zone System which allows for control over tonality all the way from white, through many greys and to black. This is just at the camera stage, not to mention the use of different films, chemicals, papers and great darkroom skills. How is a marine painting built from nothing? Doesn’t a representational painter start by observing a subject a does a photographer. I agree with Greenwood on many things, but this essay is just so pompous and bias.

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