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Overrated And Underrated Artists
Posted: 01 March 2013 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I think your definition of “overrated” is rather subjective as well. What have you read by Tolstoy, Mike? And although Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker can be overplayed (especially in North America), I don’t see how his music is not original.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Ah but then should we consider “originality” the most important thing about rating an artist? I mean, the whole notion that quality should be identified with originality began in the 19th century. Before that, one could almost argue it was the reverse. The great artists of the Renaissance were great partly in that they were rediscovering the arts of Greece and Rome, etc.

Personally, although I do understand the need for salesmen to consider originality, because it gets the headlines, I think that whole idea is largely played out now. I mean, what the hell can an artist do nowadays to be original? Put a pile of garbage on the floor? It’s been done!

And if you think about it, the one thing originality is closest to is fashion. Originality is fleeting, and largely of historical interest.

I’m willing to give some marks for originality, like I said with John Cage’s silent piece, but not many marks. But you’re right that being original is a bit more of an objective matter than being good.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Also, if “overrated” means not being original, then Warhol, Pollock, and even Dalí (including his later stuff) are way underrated. To me the terms overrated and underrated are completely meaningless.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Well, there are various more-or-less objective ways to “rate” art: one can look at how much they sell for (that’s how the Bordeaux wines were rated back in the day); one could come up with an “elite” of tastemakers like museum curators, owners of large galleries, art professors, and critics of prominent newspapers and ask them—that’s kind of how the Oscars works, right? (Though that’s just the critics). Or one could just decide to use one’s own taste as the benchmark. “If I like it, it’s good! And dammit, I know what I like!”

Do any of these really capture “quality”? Could they be wrong?

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Posted: 01 March 2013 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I seem to have stirred a mini controversy with my opinion on John Cage. While I stand by that opinion I have to admit I am not a musician and can only judge music from a listener’s perspective. I do know a thing or two about the technical and artistic sides of photography though, and herewith offer my opinion on the most overrated and underrated photographers.

Overrated: Cindy Sherman. Her work is self-indulgent, derivative and repetitive. She made a lucrative career of taking self-portraits imitating Henri Cartier-Bresson’s candid style, with a few mannequin porn photos scattered throughout her work. Sherman is proof of the argument from popularity logical fallacy.

Underrated: William P Gottlieb. Think of a black-and-white portrait of a jazz musician. Chances are Gottlieb took the photo. Using equipment today’s photographers would find technically challenging and operationally frustrating Gottlieb defined the art of candid portraiture, producing most of the iconic images of artists from Art Tatum to Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra. His works stand as masterpieces of photographic art.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Re. Cindy Sherman, I agree. A little of her work goes a very long way.

Contemporary photography artists I especially like: Gregory Crewdson, Uta Barth, Andreas Gursky, Bernd and Hilla Becher.

One artist underrated in the US (but not in Spain): Antonio López. His paintings of Madrid, of interiors, and drawings of quince trees, are spectacular.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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dougsmith - 01 March 2013 07:53 AM

Do any of these really capture “quality”?

I’ll tell you what: if you find a word you can put at the end of this question without having to put quotation marks around it, I think it’ll be worth discussing. Until that moment, however, it’s only fun and serves no other purpose. Just like art.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Well, it’s worth discussing if it’s fun to discuss, even if it serves no other purpose, right?

wink

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Also and more seriously, discussing art can be useful if (1) the person you’re discussing with knows artists and artworks that you don’t, and (2) the person you’re discussing with has taste similar to your own. That way you can learn about new artists and pieces that you might actually enjoy.

Unfortunately I don’t know of anyone writing nowadays who I can count on re. artistic taste. Hmph.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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dougsmith - 01 March 2013 08:14 AM

Well, it’s worth discussing if it’s fun to discuss, even if it serves no other purpose, right?

wink

Sure.  grin

And perhaps there is another objectively good reason why it’s worth discussing: conspicuous signal. Many girls probably think you are a pretty cool guy for knowing why Fernado Botero is an overrated artist. It takes time, intelligence and money to be able to waste spend on something as impractical as this. Being seen as a cool guy by girls is always a good thing.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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dougsmith - 01 March 2013 07:58 AM

Re. Cindy Sherman, I agree. A little of her work goes a very long way.

Contemporary photography artists I especially like: Gregory Crewdsen, Uta Barth, Andreas Gursky, Bernd and Hilla Becher.

One artist underrated in the US (but not in Spain): Antonio López. His paintings of Madrid, of interiors, and drawings of quince trees, are spectacular.

Crewdson and Barth aren’t my style. I understand why other people like their work, but I find Crewdson’s work gimmicky and Barth’s sterile.

As for Gursky, aside from his F1 pit stop photo I’d throw the rest in my trash can and save the disk space for better work. Quite frankly, I have hundreds of images I will never post because they do not meet my artistic standards, and each of them equals or betters Gursky’s photos. An overexposed photo of a grocery store interior is not good art, it is simply a bad photograph. Gursky’s work is a perfect example of the pretentiousness that infects much of modern photography.

The Becher’s may have been pioneers, but their work is technically poor and artistically uninspiring. I just took a look at some of their photos, and one of the first I saw had a tilted horizon. Not one of their photos had texture in the sky. They needed Ansel Adams to teach them how to expose, develop and print.

And Lopez? If you are referring to Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia, I agree. The man could find and translate beauty in a washtub.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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dougsmith - 01 March 2013 08:25 AM

Also and more seriously, discussing art can be useful if (1) the person you’re discussing with knows artists and artworks that you don’t, and (2) the person you’re discussing with has taste similar to your own. That way you can learn about new artists and pieces that you might actually enjoy.

Excellent point.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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George - 01 March 2013 07:23 AM

I think your definition of “overrated” is rather subjective as well. What have you read by Tolstoy, Mike? And although Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker can be overplayed (especially in North America), I don’t see how his music is not original.

Well, something has either been done (and and people have to be aware of it), or it hasn’t; most recent art history has been kept track of, so it is possible to check dates and places to a large extent.

For example, the electric guitar was around for about 20 years before it became the primary insturment in rock music, but the artists who played it before rock and roll have mostly been ignored by music fans and critics - and few people care to investigate, so they continue to give undue credit to those who don’t deserve it.

I’ve read a collection of Tolstoy’s short stories, and some of War and Peace.

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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DarronS - 01 March 2013 08:27 AM

Crewdson and Barth aren’t my style. I understand why other people like their work, but I find Crewdson’s work gimmicky and Barth’s sterile.

As for Gursky, aside from his F1 pit stop photo I’d throw the rest in my trash can and save the disk space for better work. Quite frankly, I have hundreds of images I will never post because they do not meet my artistic standards, and each of them equals or betters Gursky’s photos. An overexposed photo of a grocery store interior is not good art, it is simply a bad photograph. Gursky’s work is a perfect example of the pretentiousness that infects much of modern photography.

The Becher’s may have been pioneers, but their work is technically poor and artistically uninspiring. I just took a look at some of their photos, and one of the first I saw had a tilted horizon. Not one of their photos had texture in the sky. They needed Ansel Adams to teach them how to expose, develop and print.

Well, chacun à son goût! Of course, I would say you’re approaching each of these in the wrong way. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I, and I don’t know of an objective manner to determine the “right” way.

DarronS - 01 March 2013 08:27 AM

And Lopez? If you are referring to Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia, I agree. The man could find and translate beauty in a washtub.

Yep, that’s the one. (The “García” often gets left off, since it’s his second last name).

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Posted: 01 March 2013 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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dougsmith - 01 March 2013 08:35 AM

Well, chacun à son goût! Of course, I would say you’re approaching each of these in the wrong way. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I, and I don’t know of an objective manner to determine the “right” way.

There really is not an objectively right way, it is a matter of photographic philosophy. I am a photographic purist in the sense that I do not like photos that seek to imitate paintings. They are different media. That said, some of the best photos do look almost like paintings, but only because they are excellent photos, not because the photographer set up a studio to combine exposures into a Hieronymus Bosch inspired masterpiece. Other people love that style.

While Barth’s work is technically and compositionally excellent, I just do not connect with it emotionally. I am not her target audience.

Gursky’s work, however, can be judged objectively. I suggest you take a closer look at his photos, then compare them with John Sexton, William Neal, Michael Frye, Jack Dykinga or any number of photographers who understand how to compose a photograph and capture light, or simply get a proper exposure. Deliberately or not, the vast majority of Gursky’s work is improperly exposed, has no center of interest, and uses flat lighting. He may be violating Photography 101 principles on purpose, but his photos suffer for it. The F1 pit stop photo, good as it is, was an easy shot to get. Making an artistic statement while capturing motorcycles at moving 70 mph is much harder than standing across from pit lane and waiting for a static shots. In fact, the F1 photo would be much more interesting if Gursky had used a slower shutter speed to show the pit crews were not posing for him.

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