Cara Phillips, Playboy Consultation Chair, Orange County. 2007
Without the benefit of a gallery how does one distinguish Fine Art photography from an advanced Flickr user? The easiest way is to recognize and understand its conventions. Staged pictures of unsmiling people, arranged still lifes, and frozen landscapes all suggest an artist is behind the camera as opposed to an enthusiast. Ideally, artists find ways to transcend these stereotypes, but even the best can fall prey.
It’s not surprising then, that Humble Arts’ book Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography, showcases a fair amount of work that looks like Art. For the most part, I’m fine with this — emerging art isn’t consistently mature, and expectations that it should be are likely misplaced — though certainly the book might have benefited from a little more editing. Zack Genin for example has not yet received his BFA and his work reflects it, while Mikael Kennedy presents a pondering bearded man in the woods, the most garden variety hipster art I’ve seen in recent months. But despite a few unfortunate decisions, overall the book looks good. Each artist generously receives a full page reproducing a single image, and curators Alana Celii, Jon Feinstein and Grant Willing do a fair job of showcasing the best work by each artist. [Cara Phillips‘ photograph, pictured above is an excellent example of this.]
Were I a dealer however I don’t know how pleased I’d be to see one of my artists in the guide. This has nothing to do with the quality of the work, but rather that the book lists the artists’ contact information at the bottom of each page in exchange for their gallery’s. For those who aren’t represented this is of no consequence, but this complicates matters for those who are by encouraging the sale of work directly out of the studio. I’m no expert on gallery relations, but my advice to artists who wish to keep their representation is not to bypass their dealers. It will not only tank the current business relationship, but hinder future partnering with gallerists they know.
A few notable works below:
Jan Fassbender, Wald 001, 2007
Yann Gross, Lavina 3, 2006
Peter Riesett, Bag of Fur, from the series Testament, 2004
Ofer Wolberger, Maggie at James Dean’s Last Stop, Lost Hills, CA, 2008