Thursday, December 21, 2006Home

John Szarkowski Q + A

The LA Weekly has quite an involved interview with John Szarkowski, in which he talks about the new generation of color photographers, as well as the trends, risks, successes and failures involved with their work. The discussion moves often to the Getty Center's current exhibition, "Where We Live: Photographs of America from the Berman Collection," and the work of William Eggleston in particular. The risky proposition of making fine art out of everyday scenes is a central theme in the new exhibition, and they all get the thumbs up from Szarkowsi. As for the imitators out there (and there are a lot of those), Szarkowsi said:

A lot of it is just idea mongering. Well, I shouldn’t say a lot of it. The weaker stuff. You think, okay, that’s interesting, and it’s flat, and, of course, that brings us halfway to modern if it’s flat, because modern is flat, right? The whole tradition of modern painting has to do with flatness. So you march straight up to the building, and you get some letters that might be fairly interesting as letters, and maybe they say something that you think possibly has got a little bit of ironic valence. Or a photograph of a building that has been influenced by people whose taste is inferior to your own. You know, that kind of shooting-fish-in-a-barrel sort of thing. And without any affection, without any attempt to understand.

The article also covers the collectibility of up-and-coming photographers for the newly wealthy. This seems a good fit: Szarkowsi lectured at the Berman Collection exhibition on November 2 (the exhibition runs through February 25, 2007). Even if you are still cold on this "hip" genre of photography (or Bruce Berman and his infomercials), it's worth taking a look.

An exhibition of his own work is on view at Peter Fetterman gallery in Santa Monica, CA, until January 27.

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