’ from 1939, one of the first essays where the importance of the role of medium inart is mentioned.
Later important works were completed by Michael Fried, SusanSontag, Roland Barthes and Rosalind Krauss. At the end of the twentieth century andduring the first decade of the twenty-first there have been a number of important philosophical and art historical investigations into photography: Michael Fried released asubstantial book titled ‘
Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before
’ in 2008 and inDecember of 2009 a special issue of the journal
was dedicated to a debate onissues currently at stake in contemporary photographic art, to cite just two examples. Thefact that philosophers, art historians, and critics are exercised by photography indicatesunresolved issues regarding our understanding of photography.The first section of this essay will deal with the complex relationship between painting and photography. The second section illustrates issues in relation to how weattempt to gain an understanding of the medium of photography via other media. Thefinal section argues for an exploration of the process of photography, rather than an end product of images, as a means to understanding photography on its own terms.Photography and Painting: A symbiotic or parasitic media relationship?The advent of photography can be seen as a watershed for painting. Photographycreated possibilities for art with all the speed and unexpected consequences now expectedof any technological advance. One of these possibilities was self-reflection. ClementGreenberg, in his essay
writes of self-criticism in the arts which hesees as endemic to Modernism.
Greenberg claims that self-criticism (in Modernist painting) is a totally spontaneous practice.
It may be spontaneous but the freedom toreflect only occurs when other more basic needs and duties have been fulfilled. Self-criticism and self-reflexivity can be seen as a luxury. This luxury would not have been asreadily available to painting had not photography, or a similar medium, freed it from its
W. Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936, 520-527 and C.Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch 1939, 539-549 in Harrison & Wood, (eds.) Art in Theory 1900-2000An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.
C. Greenberg, C.
, 1960. 773-779 in Harrison & Wood, (eds.)
Art in Theory 1900-2000 An Anthology of Changing Ideas,
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.