One definition that Suki quoted in a comment to my last post is that art is what you find in art galleries. You do often see photography in art galleries. There are galleries devoted to photography. My favourite is The Photographers' Gallery in London. Suki quoted Grayson Perry from his recent Leith Lectures where he claimed you could tell a photograph was art if the subject wasn't smiling. Another definition is that photography is art if it is black and white. Sadly one wonders if it really does come down to this in the eyes of some. Loizart in her comment to my last post suggests that photography is best avoiding getting caught up in the 'art' debate at all and be confident in what it does best.
I saw a wonderful exhibition some months ago at The Photographers' Gallery by Laura Letinsky calledIll Form and Void Full. This exhibition was clearly art. It was just that the medium was photography rather than paint, clay, movement, sounds or words. It might have more in common with abstract art. Does not documentary photography have then much in common with representational art? Are they not both interpretations of what is seen? A good photograph is not just a record. It interprets. It asks questions.
I am unclear why documentary photographs should be excluded from being art or even 'fine art' just because it is documentary.A friend recently gave me a book of photographs from Life magazine. You would recognise many of the photographs in it. Life is a photo-journalist magazine and has published many wonderful photographs over the decades. Are they excluded as art because they are documentary?
Before photography much drawing, etching and painting was documentary. If a photographic portrait is documentary then is not a drawn or painted portrait? No? What if the representation was very realistic as in photo-realism? If it is hard to see quickly whether a picture is photographed or painted then why should it be denied the possibility of being art through being photographed but not if it was painted?
Is there really a line between 'documentary' and 'art'. If so how is it drawn? Who draws it? Why?
~ ~ ~