31 augustus 2013

Philosophical quotes from the beginning of Photography ... (1839 - 1900)

Every now and then there is a discussion about "art and photography" on one of the APUG forums. Sometimes interesting, sometimes only dogmatic opinions without an open eye or ear for anything outside ones "thinking window". 
 I never want to take part in such a discussion since there will never be a winner. I would rather sit down, having a nice coffee together, and really talk about what's on your mind or heart ...

 I was thinking of these never ending discussions (even fights?), that seem to be almost 175 years old, when reading this book:
"A new art: photography in the 19th century - the photo collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam" (Netherlands), Vol. I, published in 1996. A beautiful book with very nice prints of photographs from 1839 - 1900.

 (ISBN: 90-5349-193-7, Dutch title: "Een nieuwe kunst: fotografie in de 19de eeuw")

 There were two nice quotes I would like to share with a smile:

 The first quote was published in 1839 in an art magazine in The Netherlands, called: "Algemeene Konst- en Letterbode", discussing this new phenomenon - photography:
 "The new art of generating Drawings by Sunlight (Photography)" (taken from the preface of the book)

 For this second quote, I copied also a small part of the text as an introduction (bare with me):
 "During the second half of of the nineteenth century it was not uncommon for Dutch artists to work after photographs. However, this practice was not usually spoken of in private, let alone discussed openly in print,for photography was all too often seen as "unartistic". This is clear from the results of a survey carried out in 1900 among a group of artists. The response was limited, and there was only one artist who had anything positive to say about the artisticity of the photographic of the photographic technique. That man was Philippe Zilcken (1857-1930) of The Hague: painter etcher, and writer on art. 
 "For me photography is most certainly an art, for the qualities which raise a work to the level of art, i.e., personal opinion, choice, taste, emotion together with knowledge - are all indispensible (= indispensable??) in the creation of a beautiful photograph. The camera is a machine, but the passion and sensitivity of the photographer are capable of influencing the mechanical process. In this way a seemingly impersonal technique can contribute to the creation of a true work of art." (taken from page 256-257) 

 This statement from Zilcken reminds me of my personal motto, taken from a quote of Ansel Adams:
 " ... avoiding the common illusion, that creativity depends on equipment alone ... " (from Adams book: The Camera).

 I'm not trying to start a new old discussion here (please don't), but if you know an other striking or interesting remark from the old days (from before the 1930's) you're welcome to share it here. And if you would like a nice coffee with it, give me a call ;-)

I was reading this book while listening (among others) to: "Agnus Dei" (Dunedin Consort), "Fifth of Firth" (Genesis), "Bombay Calling" (It's A Beautiful Day), "A Brother's Prayer" (The Holmes Brothers), "Koyaanisqatsi" (Philip Glass) and "Erbarme Dich" (from the St. Matthew Passion (Bach), Dunedin Consort).
 All very different, but all art (to me).