Photography – the Art of Our Time

Jonathan Jones in a post on his On Art Guardian blog recently wrote “Photography is the art of our time. The old masters painted the drama of life and death. Today photography captures the human condition – better than any other artistic medium of our age” and went on to say “It has taken me a long time to see this, and you can laugh at me if you like.”

Well, I won’t laugh at him, not least because it is something I have been writing and saying and more importantly – at least for me – trying to do for many years, though I think when years ago I wrote that ‘photography is the defining medium of the twentieth century‘ I was including moving pictures in my definition. Of course I don’t claim any originality in my thought, inspired as it was by the thinking and writing of others, including Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Walter Benjamin, well before I was born.

So Mr Jones is rather late in coming to the party, and though I welcome him, I’m not entirely convinced that the party is not more or less over. Certainly now in the twenty-first century we have photography being appropriated and emasculated by both academia and the art market, turning it into careerism and commodity. Though of course there is still much fine work being produced, and some younger photographers are showing themselves to be adept at sitting on several stools.

Art and academic pin-sitting/hair-splitting/bullshitting are perhaps the two major games photographers will have to play as a way to earn a living to support them as they continue their photography.

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