Ex.2: Photography in the Museum or in the Gallery?

I was tasked with reading the essay, ‘Photography’s Discursive Spaces: Landscape/View’ by Rosalind Krauss. Now, I need to summarise what I consider to be her main points:

  • Different mediums equate to differing results even without intention. This can be useful for different purposes- the form dictates the end result.
  • In the early 19th Century, it became the norm to present art in rows, although this was quickly seen as formulaic. Over time, artworks became larger to fill the walls that they hung on.
  • The original photograph portrays a mysterious quality which is missing from the lithograph. This is due to its expression of detail as it focuses on geological features. The purpose of the lithograph is not to celebrate art.
  • Throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries ‘depth’ became less important. This was replaced by flat landscapes which were more appropriate for the much larger exhibition spaces available.
  • Small details (often seen in stereoscopes) became more important. These elements were considered to be the most important part of the artwork, due to the overwhelming size of the complete piece.

I was very pleased that by the end of her essay, Krauss implies that photography should be seen as much of an art form as any other, and that it warrants being in a gallery. I’ve always had this view myself and it is rather unusual to read an essay that isn’t critical of photography from that period.

I found myself wondering, “what is art to me?” After reflecting for a while, I decided that it’s the creative intention behind a piece of work that I consider ‘art’. In this instance, had the lithograph been created for an artistic reason, it would be art. As it is though, as a geological study it doesn’t fit my criteria of being art.

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