The purpose of art is to say ….

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Back to the old question of -

What is Art?

Or, more specifically -

What is Photographic Art?

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Dahlia Trio

Dahlias were two weeks late this year

Odd, since everything else was two weeks early

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To me, the question, What is art?, is unanswerable.

At least in the sense of a single objective definition that satisfies all

Recently though I came across an answer that appealed to me -

At least from the viewpoint of photographic art

It states the same view that I’ve preached regularly in this blog

In my words -

There are documentary images and there are creative images of a subject

Everyone can do the former but not the latter

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Here’s is what I read in Guy Tal’s blog (originally published in the British online magazine On Landscape) -

Photography can be a means for creative expression capable of illustrating much deeper concepts than “this is what I saw.” It can be used for the creation of art and ulterior meaning with the same power and nuance as any other means of making and fixing images onto paper (or screen). The purpose of illustration is to say: “Here’s what you would have seen had you been there.” The purpose of art is to say: “Here’s what you would not have seen had I not shown it to you, even if you were standing next to me.” In the former, the photographer is but a passive bystander, a mere operator of machinery; in the latter, the photographer is an integral part of an image and its reason for being.
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If  you missed it, here it is again as it’s worth repeating -
The purpose of illustration is to say: “Here’s what you would have seen had you been there.”
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The purpose of art is to say: “Here’s what you would not have seen had I not shown it to you, even if you were standing next to me.”

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4 Responses to “The purpose of art is to say ….”

  1. Walt Szymanski Says:

    Thanks very much, Ed, for resharing Guy Tal’s post on the purpose of illustration through photography. I doubt that I would have seen this post of Tal’s, which fits my viewpoint perfectly, had you not brought to our attention here on your page.

  2. judyn Says:

    Beautiful Dahlia portrait, but I especially thank you for the wonderful quote about showing what you would not have seen. I used to do documentary photography (mostly travel), but now that I’ve moved on to art photography this is exactly how I feel about what I do. Except one more point. Sometimes I go beyond what you wouldn’t have noticed (seen) to what I wish I had seen…

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