From: Judy Seigel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 09/05/02-02:51:20 PM Z
On Mon, 2 Sep 2002, Jack Fulton wrote:
> Now, listen here . . if Norman Rockwell is okay then why not Ansel? I'd say
> that to say AA is a calendar artist is to recognize his, (and perhaps David
> Meunch) contribution as an interpreter of the American 'majestic' outdoors.
I would have replied sooner except I've been off doing "Upgrade,2 the
Sequel", compared to which Upgrade 1 is a walk in the park. But sitting
with my take-a-number at Techserve I wrote this on back of the invoice:
Ansel Adams takes something generally accepted as beautiful -- trees,
mountains, bodies of water, moonrise, et al, and photographs it. Let's say
he optimizes, tweaks, and masterfully renders it so we can admire, even be
thrilled by, the picture and/or the scene it evokes -- maybe even
experience it as "sublime." But he's not telling us one thing we don't
already know. Or not any Adams I've seen.
In contrast, Minor White (who was as I recall mentioned in same breath),
starts with nothing, what you might not even notice, and turns it into the
sublime. I suppose he has some humddrum pictures, no one can sustain that
level unbroken, but that's his *vision* -- finding sublime in the mundane,
even invisible. I think in particular of a worn work glove on the street
next to an open manhole, with (as I recall, haven't seen it lately) an
arrow painted on the street, pointing to either hole or glove (maybe he
moved the glove?). Another iconic White is the shadow of curtain on wall
under an open window -- nothing really -- but a revelation.
There may be mastery, beauty, et al, in Adams, but no revelation. We KNOW
nature is grand (until ruined anyway, another kind of picturesque, &
another topic). We didn't know about that glove or shadow until White
found them, showed us.
"Calendar art" in the sense I used the term celebrates the beautiful,
which is harmless enough. But the reflexive accolades to Adams are I
believe due more to his subject than his *vision.* Someone along the way
seemed to think I was calling Adams "kitsch" -- not at all: kitsch is
something else. But Minor White is *creative* -- in seeing/creating
"manifestations", making something out of nothing by putting it together
in his head. Even in a calendar, these wouldn't be "calendar art."
As for edge: "Edge" can perhaps only be found in "new" art... it wears
> There are far fewer art critics I've enjoyed. Shall we discuss Ruskin here?
> I see them more as reporters telling us about an exhibit. Few write
> substantially interested and valuable critiques of work. It takes an
> artist/critic along the lines of Victor Burgin or Alan Sekula to make some
> sense . . though, darn .. hard to read. Maybe they're too social.
In the 1970s, this school of writing was hellaciously contagious --
Kuspit, Krauss, Solomon Godeau, Gilbert-Rolfe, Pincus-Witten, all did the
jargon, copied I suppose from the French. Amazing how when the vogue
passed they suddenly became capable of plain sentences. As for Burgin in
particular, if I can say the word without sending this list into a tizzy,
he made some very perceptive comments about Freud.
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