Fine Art in the Digital Age

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This comes from James Danzinger’s blog The Year In Pictures (here).

Tonight marks the opening of The Sartorialist’s exhibition at Danziger Projects. (6 – 8 pm. 521 West 26th Street.) All are welcome.

The idea for the show began when I landed on The Sartorialist’s blog for the first time this past July and was wowed by the quality of his pictures. Here was a highly accomplished photographer with a uniquely personal point of view taking pictures digitally and then posting them on his blog. There was no connection to the art world evident – but I felt that here was the first real fine art photographer of the digital age.

First real fine art photographer of the digital age” is a pretty big statement to make but I can certainly get behind someone who takes decent pictures but has excellent taste in subjects and has created a very narrow body of work.

There Are 12 Comments On This Article.

  1. Yeah, the “first real fine art photographer of the digital age” line will have people like Andreas Gursky (who uses a lot of digital work) surprised.

  2. william h. trenton

    I totally agree, Joerg. While I’m sure that that Schuman guy is a fine person, and he’s nice to animals, for Danziger to make such a bizarre statement just blows all credibility with me. You grab a digital Rebel; you walk around city streets looking for people who’s invested two hours of their morning, changing clothes in front of the mirror seven times; you make some prints; and you call it revolutionary? To me, when you see the amount of Comments on the Schuman blog, you just realize what kind of values that we live in in this country, ie, “it’s all about the way you look”. Again, I’m sure Schuman is a nice guy, but let’s not stretch or inflate what we’re really talking about here. Cute pictures, ala Bill Cunningham, but beyond that, fine art…? Please.

  3. Well, it is pretty easy to pick on one particularly questionable/audacious/silly/whatever line. Ultimately, that is sensational but not terribly interesting.

    However, there are plenty of interesting things here:
    – this *started* as a blog
    – the purveyor of the audacious claim “found” the blog (already popular though it was) and connected it to the “art world”. Define that as you will, but to me this has something to do with the ‘established’ art world.
    – the exhibit marked the first time the photographer printed any of the work, at least for this kind of use.
    – It seems clearly successful, as measured by the volume of sales and enormous interest in the opening.

    This one’s got a bunch of interesting stuff to it, from the photography itself through the process of its popularity right out through the oft-controversial question of pricing as mentioned in the linked The Year in Pictures post.

  4. Well, I think it follows a new trend (maybe it’s old) for gallerists to turn popular photography into an exhibition to make money. I say fine, as long as they alternate less profitable starving artists in there.

  5. James Danziger’s assertion “First real fine art photographer of the digital age” is a bit reminiscent of John Szarkowski’s description of William Eggleston as “the first color photographer”. This hyperbole is, nominally, untrue, and doubtless annoyed ambitious artists like Stephen Shore, but Szarkowski’s meaning was ultimately clear, that Eggleston is the first photographer to make art with color materials.

  6. A gallerist sees a site that has a huge audience and decides to capitalize on it. Just because it’s in a gallery does not make it art.

  7. When I see a “gallery” catering to the mass populist culture like this, to me it just shows how much that New York is changing, (toward commercialism), and for that matter, the entire country. What’s one to do though; it’s a giant tidal wave, all about money. I guess you could apply #7’s comments above, toward other art fields too: “Just because it’s on the radio does not make it good music”; “Just because it’s on television does not make it quality programming”.

    Someone pass the cotten candy; I can’t get enough sugar.

  8. Alan Smythe

    He is a low budget Jake Chessum or maybe Amy Arbus with Danziger being his Clement Greenberg.

  9. I actually visited the gallery today and I’ve been watching the blog for a while now. When I first found it I was impressed but as I looked and read comment after comment about how fantastic someone wears a scarf I just became annoyed. I see his pictures as portraits of clothes hangers. I wish that he would pay more attention to the people wearing his subject matter. I think “decent pictures” is an accurate description. I don’t know why I find it so frustrating. I do think he takes a good picture now and then.

    And the “First real fine art photographer of the digital age” is just outrageous.

  10. I haven’t seen the work except online, where it seems I consume most of my images these days. However I don’t think we can underestmate the size, quality or influence of the online audience in all markets.

    If Rob was described as the first real online photo editor, you could debate “real” or “first” if you wanted to but that wouldn’t negate that for most of us in his audience and the professional photography community – we know him from online and respect his work enough to be engaged.

    Interestingly as the live web goes and the press release is linked to and referenced – hyperbole becomes institutionalized – I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as a Wikipedia entry.

  11. Thank you for reminding me that the term ‘art’ has no place in photography except as marketing bullshit, and nor does ‘first’ mean anything more than some arbitrary place in a continuum that ‘first’ figured on some nitwit’s personal radar. As for ‘fine’, that is clearly a matter of opinion, rather like ‘crass’, ‘dull’, ‘banale’, ‘vapid’, ‘superficial’, ‘lazy’ and ‘complacent’. ‘Digital’ may well be true, but who cares anyway? ‘Real’? This is the internet, for God’s sake.