ON STREET PHOTOGRAPHY and other life changing events


Is Street Photography Art / New Street Agenda

Composition © Knut Skjærven

Composition © Knut Skjærven

Is street photography art? I am sure you have wondered about this. Just as I have.

Looking around the answers come hard and depending on context, they might vary.

I many art museums, if they have photography at all as part of their collections, photographs are often hidden away in a corner.

Even worse, in basements or drawers. They have no place among the finer works of paintings and sculptures.

Lending an ear to E. H. Gombrich, and his The Story of Art, the answer given is that there are no such things as art. Only artist. 

That is an interesting angle that I shall return to shortly. I just want to repeat, as stated also elsewhere, that E. H. Gombrich has no problem with including a photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson in his grand project.

In my version of the book, the photograph is on page 624. It is the famous shot from Italy taken in 1952:  Aguila degli Abruzzi. I am sure you know it.

As far as I know, it is the only photograph included in the book. That might be symptomatic. Street photography might not be there quite yet, even if a few photographers and singular photographs, are.

Is it really so that there are no such things as art, only artist?

That can be discussed since what is produced by artist, might indeed be art.

I agree, that there is more to this than just pointing to works at Louvre, British Museum, and other fine institutions. MoMA.

As I see it, artist comes from a melting of talent, craftsmanship, long years of training, stamina and passion. Add courage, ambition, iron will, dedication and some brains even. If combinations of these qualities lack, you have no artist and no artists produce no art.

A random street photographer is no artist, but the finest of them are. It probably takes a lifetime to get there.

This evening or tomorrow morning, take a good look in the mirror. I am sure you will recognise the artist if he or she is there.

Remember, even mirror images can deceive. Sooner or later you will find out.

Or somebody else will.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

This is a draft chapter to the workbook New Street Agenda. There is a workshop connected to it: New Street Agenda, Berlin June 12 – 15, 2014. If you are interested, please ask for more information at mail@theuropeans.eu or use the contact form below.

Good luck with it.

This post is in category New Street Agenda.


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This entry was posted on January 8, 2014 by in New Street Agenda, The Workbook and tagged , .

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