The Photograph as Contemporary Art

Charlotte Cotton. Chapter 4: Something and Nothing 

Some interesting points and more artists to add to my list.

Cotton discusses the still life in contemporary photography and describes how ordinary everyday objects are made extraordinary by photographing them. The photographs discussed in this chapter highlight how the artist attempts to shift the way we look at ordinary stuff and contemplate it beyond its everyday function.

I connected with Laura Letinsky’s work the most. I met her years ago and I remember our conversation well; she was quite adamant that there is no symbolism in her still life arrangements, even though it references the traditional Dutch still life. She described her work to be about relationships and narratives and talked about her love of food and the still life paintings of Giorgio Morandi. Given that her previous body of work focused on couples in intimate spaces, I’m contemplating how the subject in her work is the same, even though her subject matter is markedly different.

Other artists from the chapter include: Richard Wentworth, Peter Fischi + David Weiss, Jeff Wall, Wolfgang Tillmans, Sabine Hornig, Felix Gonzalez-Torre.

Ways the works are represented are worth noting: luscious and sensual treatment, shifts in scale, environment, juxtapositions and relationships between forms and shapes.






One thought on “Reading

  1. With regards to the work of Letinsky, I find the images of the people and the table remnants similar in meaning without the similarity in subject. Both sets of images appear to deal with the relationship of the items/people within the frame, exposing a certain intimacy. In her series “Venus Inferred”, pairs of people are shown in everyday intimacies, sharing a bathroom, a bed, or other intimate space. They aren’t always within arms reach, but the honesty and contact within the spaces is always there. In “Hardly More than Ever” the food and dishes substitute for the bodies of the people, exposing the same intimacies through the placement and condition of the parts. Often, the signs are apparent that the table was set for two, and the scraps point to the sharing of food as an intimate experience. Eating with fingers, reaching across the divide to share in the others food, crumbs falling, and juices dripping from lips, these are all the same as the actions that you would find in the “Venus Inferred” series of images.

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