Artist Statements of the Masters

Robert Frank The Met


Philip lorca DiCorcia

Lauren Greenfield

Helen Levitt

Emmet Gowin

Alesanda Sanguinetti

Joel Sternfeld

Rineke Dikjstra

Philip-Lorca diCorcia
One of the most influential and innovative photographers working today, Philip-Lorca diCorcia is known for creating images that are poised between documentary and theatrically staged photography. His practice takes everyday occurrences beyond the realm of banality, infusing what would otherwise appear to be insignificant gestures with psychology and emotion. DiCorcia employs photography as a fictive medium capable of creating uncanny, complex realities out of seemingly straightforward compositions. As such, his work is based on the dichotomy between fact and fiction and asks the viewer to question the assumed truths that the photographic image offers.

Emmet Gowin's first body of photographic work centers on his family and their home in Virginia. In the 1960s Gowin studied with Harry Callahan at the Rhode Island School of Design, and like Callahan, who photographed his wife Eleanor, Gowin found inspiration in his own wife, Edith. Photographing her regularly during the course of their daily life, Gowin made pictures of Edith that are an outgrowth (and a partial record) of their ongoing interactions. In this respect Gowin diverges from his former teacher, whose emphasis was more on formal aspects and abstraction. Yet while Gowin's wife is frequently the subject of his photographs, his scope is simultanesouly more expansive; in a number of photographs he includes his sons and other relatives, tracing a broader view of family life, as he gradually conveys a sense of place through his subject's relations with their immediate environment. Gowin's interest in the landscape *(like Sally Mann) as a subject in itself grew over time and in the 1980s he began to make aerial photographs. Shifting from the intimacy of his earlier work, he adopted a distant viewpoint that balances between descriptive and abstract qualities. The different landscapes he depicts from above are all marked by human activity, to varying degrees, and range from agricultural fields to nuclear sites and industrial facilities.

Joel Sternfeld
Joel Sternfeld is well known for large-format color photographs that extend the tradition of chronicling roadside America initiated by Walker Evans in the 1930s. Sternfeld's projects have consistently explored the possibility of a collective American identity by documenting ordinary people and places throughout the country. Each project he embarks on is bound by a concept that imbues it with subtle irony, often through insightful visual juxtapositions or by pairing images with informational text. Another characteristic aspect of Sternfeld's work is that color is never arbitrary; it functions in highly sophisticated ways to connect elements and resonate emotion.
He began making color photographs in the 1970s ...
he was working with an eight-by-ten-inch camera. Sternfeld's style-his careful attention to visual qualities combined with an insightful and often ironic view of his subjects was first articulated in American Prospects. One of his best-known images, for example, depicts a fireman shopping for a pumpkin as a house burns in the background. The pumpkins' vibrant oranges match the autumnal colors of the countryside, and ironically, the fire's flames.

Writing an artist statement

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Here are a few links with tips on writing an artist statement.
Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

Some examples:

Photographers, week 14

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Luigi Ghirri

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Final assignment

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Week 12

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Photography as Fiction bookmarks

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A Digital Age... reading assignment

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Choose at least two of these articles to read. Write out a quick paragraph response.

'The numbers keep changing, but the last figure I saw was that 1.2 billion photographs are made per day. Half-a-trillion per year'

Everything is being tried, but nothing seems to dispel the malaise that hangs over the contemporary photography or the uneasiness, lack of confidence, alienation, and dislocation that afflict the contemporary photographer.
The economic picture might be less upsetting if the upheavals of the digital age had led to some explosion in creativity and cultural production. But of course the opposite has happened
Photographs have dematerialised. They are everywhere and nowhere. Images are no longer fixed objects of archive; they are fragments in a mass and widely dispersed visual exchange.

Revised, revised syllabus!

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