• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss some of the ways that postmodern photographic practice questions, critiques, or opposes Modernist notions of photography

Extracts from this document...


Discuss some of the ways that postmodern photographic practice questions, critiques, or opposes Modernist notions of photography. When comparing modernism and postmodernism in photography, it would be important to note that modern art and postmodern art are very broad subjects. So broad that one cannot condense all of the two into an essay, nor can your argument be foolproof from rebuttal. There are far too many postmodern photographers to mention, so I shall concentrate on a select few and their methods of questioning Modernist photography. Modernism as we know it today is a movement that began alongside the industrialization of the western world. With Industry and machines came the idea of modernism, that science would eventually overcome nature to create a perfectly streamlined world. The modernist movement argued that the new realities of the 20th century were permanent and imminent, and that people should adapt their world view to accept that what was new was also good and beautiful. Order and meaning to the Modernist movement were found through the concept of Grand Narratives, something that will crop up later in the essay. Postmodernism came of course after Modernism and can be seen as a reaction to the world after modernism. This does not necessarily have to be a critique of modernism, but usually critiques of modern life can bear relevance to previous movements such as modernism that may have caused what is being critiqued. Modernist photographic practice specifically adhered of course to different social and artistic rules. It is a very modernist medium, it's hey day being at the peak of modernist idealism (1880-1940). The use of photography was kept relatively simple. ...read more.


It is not about aesthetics, the quality of the print and the shape or form. Postmodern styles of photography oppose these notions of photography. Another photographer who contested the idea of the male gaze is Helmut Newton. Newton worked mainly in the realm of fashion photography, where he became used to seeing the female model as an object to be desired by both men and women. He began to experiment with his fashion shoots "Newton explored the nexus between power, gender roles and sexuality in his fashion photography"6. Compare these two images, fig 1.4 by Newton and Fig 1.5 by Bellocq. Fig 1.4 Fig1.5 In the Photograph by Bellocq the persons face has been scrubbed out by the artist, we cannot see her face so she becomes a subject for our gaze. She has no gaze and she is reduced to an object. The model stands in a casual manner, accepting that she is on display. By scrubbing out her face Bellocq is on purpose objectifying the model, who is a prostitute posing for Bellocq. In Newtons image there is a completely different tone, there is harsh lighting which illuminates the woman. The photograph is taken lower down so that the woman looms over us in a powerful way. Her stance is also one of power; she stands square on to the camera, shoulders and legs straight. She has her hands together with one clenched in a fist over her crotch. It is as if she is not covering her genitals but protecting them. She stares straight back at the camera, unflinching and fierce, because of this she is less a sexual object more a threat. ...read more.


Not to beautify it. While photographers such as Shonibare were attempting to criticise the ethics of modernist idealism, other wanted to change the way we perceived photography. Postmodern photographic practice has moved away from critiquing modernism and has concerned itself now with popular culture as a wider spectrum. Yet in looking at popular culture one cannot escape cultures that modernism has created. This is why postmodern photography is part an evolutionary process in image making and also a critique of cultures history. Fig 2.1 shows John Baldessaris artwork of two pictures put together. The people in the pictures have their heads hidden under large coloured dots. In combining two photographs Baldessari is rejecting the constraints of a single photograph "a clash of pictures, producing meaning that wasn't inherent in the individual images"13. In using paint to paint dots onto faces he is combining photography with painting, synergizing art with photography. 11. Art after 1960, p120 12.Sontag, On photograpy, penguin, p107 13 Heiser Jorg, John Baldassari, http://www.frieze.com/review_single.asp?r=2241 Fig 2.1 Susan Sontag Argues that "Whatever the moral claims made on behalf of photography, its main effect is to convert the world into a department store or museum-without-walls in which every subject is depreciated into an article of consumption, promoted into an item for aesthetic appreciation".14 What Sontag describes is the world we see today, a world where every object can be defined in a photograph. This is a very modernist notion as it allows for simplicity and modern life to be combined. Postmodern photographers have tried to confront this thought by changing the techniques and styles of photography greatly. Because of this photography is now a diverse and varied art medium. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Art & Design section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Art & Design essays

  1. Modernism - Nearly every Modernist movement employed abstraction; it is more a question of ...

    Enormous developments were made in the arenas of the classical sciences, social science, psychology and philosophy - each challenging traditional thought. Charles Darwin's abstract, "On The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection," (1859) contested the ideal of divine creation.

  2. Compare Two Photographs by Two Different Photographers

    One of Brandt's earlier photographs is of a tube station being used as a bomb shelter during the war, people sleeping on the cold floor whilst bombers fly directly over head. The structure of the photograph is fairly simple; the viewer is directed towards the policeman by: one, the viewpoint is directed because of the direction of the bricks.

  1. Susan Sontag (on photography) has argued that Diane Arbus's photographs suggest "a world in ...

    "The Photographs of deviates and real freaks do not accent their pain but, rather, their detachment and autonomy" 2 Additionally it is her technique that individualises each portrait. Her use of flash and using square negatives separates her subjects ever more "Her use of flash both served to isolate the

  2. Film is the most important art form of the 20th Century - Discuss

    we see a wedding ceremony, looking as perfect and beautiful as ever but seconds later a gang burst into the church and shoot everyone down in very realistic, therefore disturbing ways. However Tarantino obviously believes if its possible, it can be shown and he goes all out to shock with most of his films!

  1. Surrealism - artists and techniques.

    The surrealist feel given in his early metaphysical paintings, is by the colours used in his paintings, objects used and also the area he painted. Because he painted areas which were very unique, they were not usually seen in other paintings.

  2. Malcolm Andrew's analysis

    It is land organized and reduced to the point where the human eye can comprehend its breadth and depth within one frame or short scan."6 This quote not only sums up how the viewer transforms land into landscape, but also introduces the existence of outside influences on what in the viewers mind makes a landscape.

  1. AS Photography - Statement of Intent

    exploitation (using slower shutter speeds to expose the film to light for longer periods and therefore blur movement)) wherever possible to add even more impact to the final pieces. In the research for my exam I am going to look at the work of the British photographer Michael Kenna and take his work as the influence for my studies.

  2. Standing Female Nude

    that Lynda Nead describes: "to represent is to take power - it is to tell your own stories and draw your own lines, rather than succumb to the tales and images of others.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work