Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life Is Short But Art Is Long

Thomas Jefferson Scott, artist, architect and designer, was fond of quoting Hippocrates' observation that life is short but art is long. Our lives are richer because Tom Scott shared both his life and his art with us.

Tom's friends and family gathered last Sunday at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, to celebrate that life and share reminiscences of a life well lived.

It was a joyful time.

Here is a link to his obituary, printed earlier this year in the Baltimore Sun.

Liz and I were honored to be his friends.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Remembering Weegee

The New York Times reported yesterday that on Thursday the Chicago Sun-Times fired all of its photographic staff. Twenty-eight employees. Their crime: not only did they commit photo journalism, they insisted on being paid.

Apparently the scheme is to get their writers to take snapshots for the paper with cheap digital cameras and also get photos from the public.

With the demise of Life and Look magazines and the use of national inserts in newspapers rather than locally produced rotogravure, the public's awareness of photo journalism has itself been in decline.

Photo journalism is a craft. It shows the world to the public and the public to the world. It is not an unskilled profession.

One of the most skilled practitioners, Henri Cartier-Bresson, described the task as that of capturing "the decisive moment." This obviously applies to sports photography, but less obviously to other events as well.

As I pondered the event, I was reminded of Weegee. That was his pen name (or stage name, I don't know), but he was a well known free lance photographer in New York City. His photos, published on this web site, give a feel for what a working photographer could do. He showed us to each other in all our human guises.

He worked, by the way, mostly at night, with a 4x5 press camera and disposable flash bulbs for lighting. Developed and printed the photos himself in a darkroom as the sun rose. Primitive equipment. But it did the job.

There were many other skilled photographers in the genre. Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstadt, the list goes on. Browse the works of Weegee and enjoy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Picasso's Secret

Now we know Picasso's secret. Thanks to Argonne National Laboratory and a study using high energy X-rays, we have learned that Picasso painted some of his masterpieces using house paint.

It isn't fair. We have always been told that a craftsman is known by his tools. A fine craftsman must use the best tools. And the best materials.

So how can Pablo Picasso, one of history's great artists, have made great art with ordinary house paint?

Maybe we need to alter conventional wisdom. Perhaps great craftsmen and artists are free to choose the tools and materials that work, not just the "best quality" tools.

Don't be snobbish.

Do what works.