Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Hand of the Artist

One of the complaints often heard about the difference between a darkroom print and a digital print is that the darkroom print has the "hand of the artist" involved in its creation. From my point of view, the hand is not as important as the eye or the vision of the artist.

In these images, the color image represents what I photographed but the sepia image represents my vision. The tonality was created by the ink set I chose when making the digital print rather than toning a black and white darkroom print in sepia toner. I don't feel that this print is any less my art than if I had done it in the darkroom. What's important is that I executed a workflow that allowed me to realize my vision.

Certainly one of the great photographers of the 20th century was Henri Cartier-Bresson. HCB rarely if ever printed his own work.

Jeff Koons has an entire staff that executes his "concept." He doesn't have the craft skills to handle the brushes and do the paintings himself. Also, Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol have/had others execute their work. It even got more complicated with Warhol since he did some himself and then farmed out the same piece to others to execute.

So much for being able to see the "hand of the artist" on the work. Unlike HCB, Koons, and Hirst, if I don't have the craft skills to execute my vision, I don't do it. For the most part, HCB's prints were reasonably straight so I don't really put him in the same category as Koons and Hirst.

On the other hand, Koons and Hirst are getting high-end top dollars for their work. Maybe there's a lesson in there for me.

If you want a really interesting and eye-opening book, read "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark" by Don Thompson. It will give you a whole new perspective on the collecting, marketing, and promotion of high-end art.