Tuesday, July 17, 2007

an element always interesting to consider, but never wholly knowable, is intent. even the person who believes they know their own intent may not. so how to speak of the international flow and flux of art and ideas.

to what extent, and i'm sure it was some, was the west's fascination with japan and all things japanese a search for (the illusion of) the simpler life. the industrial revolution had made cities louder and dirtier; how attractive then the 'peaceful'

(unencumbered by the last two century's innovations) images of that eastern nation, or even the coasts and countrysides of their own.

even the japanese, meiji period on out, designed to that desire in the west, so here we have japanese art from that period, plus several, again, of the pictorialist photographers who, along with their leader stieglitz, were busy making a new branch of art.

how much of this all was 'conscious,' the grasp and re-creation of a more bucolic reality than ever may have existed? and to whom?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

elongated, vertical art was also not seen in the west until japanese scrolls were encount- ered. it is no accident that steichen used this form for his self-portrait (and the poster he made for the whole movement), or stieglitz for one of his most iconic images. (i couldn't find a moon photo, surprisingly! in this particular shape.)

and another important element of the design of the time, learned, again, from the japanese, that i more or less left out yesterday, is asymmetry. (there are numerous other things too, but they more have to do with other arts.)

see for yourself the near- ly ubiquitous occurrence of all of these traits at a wonderful site here. not stieglitz or steichen, or even coburn alone, but an entire era of photography was deeply, and beautifully, grounded across the sea.