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How Photography Became Contemporary Art

Obregon Obregon

Is from: Southold, US
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Obregon Moderator Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Charter Member
Sat 29-May-21 04:20 PM
How Photography Became Contemporary Art by Andy Grundberg

History can be studied as battles and dates and the names of kings, or it can be the study of the changes and movements in societies, the cultural, economic and other causes, and the results of these changes and movements. Andy Grundberg follows the first course.

Grundberg was the New York Times photography guru between 1981 and 1991, and thus was "present at the creation" of the artistic revolution which he discusses. The book is both memoir and reporting. As is clear from the title Grundberg seeks to tell how photography became contemporary art. The book raises the question of how craft turns into art, but never answers the question. Instead, he provides long lists of photographers and galleries and the dates that these photographers appeared (or didn't appear) at these galleries. That this is his approach is emphasized by the back cover of the book jacket, which is merely a list of the photographers mentioned in the book, without further comment. The book contains a sample of photographs by many of the photographers, but having seen many of the originals, they lose something in reduced size

Was there somehow always a demand for these photographers that galleries only discovered during this artistic revolution when the galleries needed to increase their income because of thinning margins? Had a new way of looking at art crept into society, because of the art introduced by the abstract expressionists? Did digital photography actually create new ways of seeing? I don't mean to suggest these were the causes of the revolution, but I would have expected Grundberg to examine questions like these. He didn't.

Grundberg fails to mention whether the phenomena he chronicles appealed primarily to the coastal elites, and was ignored in fly-over country. My guess is that many more people in the center of the country were looking at pictures by say, Ansel Adams, then at the work of the photographers mentioned in this book. He also seems to show a certain insensitivity to public reaction to some of the art he discusses. If one is offended by a photograph of a crucifix in what purports to be urine (I am not), does it make it any less offensive if it is a plastic crucifix.

It's really too bad. We could have used the insight.

G