Is Photography Art?

Guardian writer Jonathan Jones to stir up that controversy yet again. Jones says “Peter Lik’s hollow, cliched and tasteless black and white shot of an Arizona canyon isn’t art – and proves that photography never will be.” (See the full article here.) Given there does not seem to be a generally accepted working definition of what is art and what is not, it seems pointless to argue whether or not a specific piece of work is art or not. Ignoring that niggling logical issue, I will just say that as long as a small canvas can be painted one single shade of white with no texture (think large paint chip) can hang as a valuable contribution to the art world in an institution as august as the Tate Modern in London, then pretty much anything you want to call art is in fact art. Jonathan Jones article adds nothing to the debate on whether or not photography is art.  In fact he spends most of his time not even addressing the issue, instead explaining in detail why he doesn’t like the image. Since when does a particular person’s tastes have anything to do with whether or not something is art? Perhaps that old saying “I don’t know much about art but I  know what I like” applies here. Or better yet, how about “I can’t define art but I know it when I see it.” (In case you’re wondering, except for the price I’m not particularly impressed with Lik’s image. But that wasn’t my point here.)  ]]>

7 thoughts on “Is Photography Art?”

  1. Johnathan Jones and his ilk are dog turds on the sidewalk of life. You just step over them without missing a step and never let them interfere with what you are doing, or deviate from where you are going.

    1. Nice analogy Jim. What amazes me the most about this editorial was how such an unoriginal, trite set of poorly argued, rehashed, egocentric comments was deemed newsworthy by the editors of the Guardian. We all, well at least I, indulge in occasional knee-jerk reactions to persons, places, or things but I don’t expect them to be published, even as opinion, in a national magazine. I found the counter-point editorial much better argued, and I don’t think it was just because it was closer to my way of thinking about photography.

  2. Dolts like Jones will never get it through their thick skulls that creating an image , and all that entails, is the art. Cameras – digital, film, or pin hole – are merely tools to achieve that end. It really is just as simple as that.

  3. In January 2013 Johnathon Jones had written that “Photography is the serious art of our time”. Then we move to December 2014 and Photography and he declares “Photography is not an art”.
    He should at least make up his mind and then I would suggest keeping his opinions to himself.

    1. Allan, where was it that you read Jones said that? It’s amazing that he would change his mind like that. Perhaps he doesn’t believe either extreme and was just baiting photographers to get a rise out of them? If so, the tactic worked brilliantly.

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