|One of my digital doodles!|
I’ve just come across this link on the Greeting Card Universe forum.
It’s a discussion of the photography of German photographer, Andreas Gursky, in particular his ‘Rhein 11’ , which has recently been sold for 4.3 million US dollars. Do, at least, have a look at the photograph in question, even if you don’t plough through all the comments!
But reading just some of those comments certainly made me think!
It made me curious as to why the majority of the artists/photographers who commented were so very negative about the work in question, in spite of the explanations of Gursky’s intentions and the ‘message’ he intended to convey through his photography.
It didn’t seem as if they were interested in knowing what the photograph was all about; their sole criterion seemed to be the immediate visual impression it made on them. Was it ‘beautiful’ – no! Was it ‘cute’ – definitely not! It wasn’t even technically accomplished, according to some.
It seemed to me as if most of us look for certain qualities, usually to do with beauty, or ‘cuteness’, when judging a work of art and if we don’t see it immediately, we dismiss the work and move on.
I suspect that the internet has a part to play in this.
Maybe we are seeing so many images, day in day out, that we’ve lost the capacity to stop and linger on a piece of art, in just the same way that most of us ‘skim’ rather than read?
Generally, I’m not in favour of ‘explanations’ of works of art – or music, for that matter. For me, it’s all about communication and if the work itself doesn’t speak to me, without a written or spoken explanation, it has failed in its purpose as far as I’m concerned (though, of course, it may ‘speak to’ others!).
But often, I think, a piece of art needs time to convey its message.
Sometimes a piece grabs my attention with all the immediacy of a tannoy system. More often though, an image’s message affects me only if I give it time. When I visit an exhibition, I never look at all the exhibits in one visit. I like to make several visits and limit each visit to one or two pieces – unless of course there’s an expensive admission ticket to be mindful of!
Have you seen people sitting or standing in front of a great work of art for what may be hours on end?
Have you wondered whether they’ve just come in out of the cold for a sit down? Well, maybe they have! But maybe they are silently absorbing the message of the painting in front of them. Maybe they are thinking about the painting, trying to understand it with their minds. If so, that’s not what I mean.
Obviously we are influenced by our surroundings; you don’t need to be an interior designer to recognise that colours and shapes influence our mood. Maybe it’s a subliminal influence – I don’t know the science of how it works. But in the same way, a painting or photograph, a work of art that we live with or see regularly, will, over time, seep into our souls and we will gradually hear what it wanted to communicate.
I believe that could be true of Andreas Gursky’s work.
Can you imagine living alongside Rhein ll and how that would affect you? I very much doubt if it would make you feel glad to be alive; in fact it might well even depress you! But in that case, as a ‘social comment’ it would have succeeded. There is plenty to be seriously concerned about these days – our fragile economies and the deepening rifts in our increasingly unequal society.
We can turn a blind eye, preferring ‘the kitten in shoes, raindrops on rose petals or a naked woman’s behind’, mentioned in one of the comments; or we can wake up to the ‘message’, which at least allows for the possibility of doing something about it!
Thank you to Lj for sharing this interesting subject on the forum.