There is a disturbing trend in contemporary fine art photography towards gigantism. Huge, ceiling-to-floor and wall-to wall-sized prints. This actually isn’t something new, but it is now becoming the norm. Hardly anyone produces 8″ X 10″ prints these days.
Duane Michals is an artist who has had a major influence on me. In a recent interview he said this; “Photography fails constantly. The bigger the photographs become the bigger the failure is. These large photographs are a refuge to small talent. If the only solution to (the lack of) creativity is to make it bigger then we’re in deep trouble”
The problem is, the art-world in general is a whorish business . Its all about money and profits and really has nothing to do with creativity or talent. Have you ever noticed that so many creative geniuses go virtually their entire lives without receiving one iota of recognition from the galleries and dealers (a/k/a pimps) that actually control the market?
If you take a photograph of something mundane, say a cigarette butt on the sidewalk; out of any context and without narrative it is just that; nothing more then a cigarette butt on the sidewalk. Blow that same image up to say 40″ X 60″, give it it’s own wall in a gallery, and point some lights on it. Wallah! Now that boring photograph, in the eye of the uneducated public becomes “important”. It must be important! “Look how big it is! Look at that detail! Its amazingly tack sharp and crisp! You can see every tiny crack in the sidewalk like you were looking at the Grand Canyon. Ahhhhhh its just breathtaking to see. The photographer probably used a very expensive camera”.
Yes sadly most of the people looking at art have no idea what they are seeing. They eat up the shit thats being spoon fed to them thinking they are investing in the next Andy Warhol. And many of the artists are no better! They get sucked into that bullshit too and go right along with it chasing the non existent trends that the art world procreates. It’s all bullshit my friends. In order to make good art you need to turn the focus inward not outward. Just because a respected critic or art journal says a work is important doesn’t make it so. There are many with agendas out there and the bottom line is it’s money driven. The art-world today is full of pimps and whores. The art merchants (dealers) propagate bullshit to turn profits and everyone looses; the buyers who are investing in shit, and the artists who are chasing these bullshit trends. You will never create any substantial and sustaining art chasing trends.
Its just like these jackasses who need to buy the newest and the latest gear. The “best” camera, the most expensive glass, etc. I still shoot with a 20 year old Nikon. My prints have been getting smaller and smaller, not bigger. A good photograph should draw the viewer in. A large photograph screams and demands attention, but theres nothing to see.
We are living in the post-post modern art world. Where there is no real movement. Its all been done already. Everybody copied everybody. Originality has been replaced with technology. Artist are scrambling to find a voice, but inevitably fail. Enter the void
As a side note; one artist who comes to mind that is bucking the trend and not on the radar yet is Victor Cobo. As far as critics go, listen to Jerry Saltz. He has no bullshit or agendas to push. Both of them are not following any trends but their own