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929.01 Conceptual photography
Conceptual photography as a part of conceptual art is a photography genre in which the artist makes a photograph of a concept or idea. Usually the conception of the idea precedes the realization of the photograph. The practitioners of this approach are sometimes called photoconceptualists.
Widely used in advertising and commercial photography the most successful images are immediately understandable. The use of an impoverished African child in a television advertisement is shown to represent a wider issue of underdevelopment and it ignores the complexity both at the individual level and the socio-political. It can be argued that images are, on occasion, cynically used to promote an issue at the most basic of human level - empathy. Image stock libraries have whole sections dedicated to getting across concepts to an audience.
Within conceptual art and conceptual photography the same motivations apply and it is about the use of images to transmit an idea to the viewer. In some cases the artists is documenting a performance and the "Untitled Film Stills" series by Cindy Sherman places herself within scenes reminiscent of 1940s and 50s film noir. The 69 black and white photographs in the series made between 1977 and 1980 question the nature of cinema, film stills, scenic reality, gender stereotypes and what a portrait is expected to be all in a single frame.
With Sherrie Levine her appropriations of the work of Walker Evans was provocative and critics rose up to defend her work and attack it. Some of her photographs were direct copies of photographs taken from books where she gave them new titles - such as "After Walker Evans". One commonly held way to view these is with a knee-jerk reaction that it has no originality but this may be confusing the physical object which is a copy with the underlying idea (the "concept") which questions the nature of originality and why works should be included in a canon of famous photographers who produce iconic images. It is the questions raised that are important and the intentions behind them rather than the artworks themselves.
- Λ Alexander Alberro & Blake Stimson (eds.), 1999, Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, (The MIT Press); Peter Osborne (ed.), 2011, Conceptual Art, (Phaidon Press, reissue)
- Λ Cindy Sherman & Peter Galassi, 2003, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, (New York: Musem of Modern Art)
In 1995, The Museum of Modern Art (New York) purchased the series from the artist, preserving the work in its entirety.
- Λ Reena Jana, March 21, 2001, "Is It Art, or Memorex?", Wired Magazine; Roberta Smith, November 11, 2011, "Flattery (Sincere?) Lightly Dusted With Irony," New York Times; Johanna Burton and Elisabeth Sussman; With contributions by Thomas Crow, David Joselit, Maria H. Loh, Howard Singerman, and Carrie Springer, 20012, Sherrie Levine: MAYHEM, (Yale University Press)
Costello, Diarmuid & Iversen, Margaret (eds.), 2010, Photography After Conceptual Art, (Wiley-Blackwell) isbn-10: 1444333607 isbn-13: 978-1444333602 [Δ]
Costello, Diarmuid & Iverson, Margaret (eds.), 2010, Photography After Conceptual Art, (Wiley-Blackwell) isbn-10: 1444333607 isbn-13: 978-1444333602 [Δ]
Cotton, Charlotte, 2013, Summer, ‘Nine Years, A Million Conceptual Miles‘, Aperture, no. 211 [Δ]
Fried, Michael, 2008, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, (Yale University Press) isbn-10: 0300136846 isbn-13: 978-0300136845 [Δ]
Osbourne, Peter, 2002, Conceptual Art, (Phaïdon) isbn-10: 0714839302 isbn-13: 978-0714839301 [Δ]
Soutter, Lucy, 2013, Why Art Photography?, (Routledge) isbn-10: 0415577349 isbn-13: 978-0415577342 [Δ]
Witkovsky, Matthew S. et al., 2012, Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977, (Art Institute of Chicago) isbn-10: 0300159714 isbn-13: 978-0300159714 [Δ]
Readings on, or by, individual photographers
Baldessari, J., 2005, John Baldessari: Life’s Balance; Works 84-04, (Köln: Verlag Der Buchhandlung Walther Konig) [Δ]
Hilliard, John, 2003, John Hilliard: the less said the better, (Verlag Das Wunderhorn) isbn-10: 388423207X isbn-13: 978-3884232071 [Editors: Karl Manfred Fischer & Uta Nusser, John Hilliard] [Δ]
LeWitt, Sol, 1977, Sol LeWitt: PhotoGrids, (David Paul Press/ Rizzoli, New York) [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1962, Twentysix Gasoline Stations [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1968, Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass, (Los Angeles, California: Self-published, Printed by Blair Litho) [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1969, Crackers [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1970, Babycakes with Weights, ([California]: Edward Ruscha) [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1970, Some Los Angeles Apartments [2nd edition] [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1970, Various Small Fires [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1971, Records, (Hollywood: Heavy Industry Publications, Printed by G.R. Huttner Lithography) [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1971, Royal Road Test [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed, 1990, Edward Ruscha: Los Angeles Apartments [Δ]
Ruscha, Ed & Bengston, Billy Al, 1968, Business Cards, (Hollywood: Heavy Industry Publications; Printed by Vaughan Printing Co.) [Δ]
Ruscha, Edward, 1965, Some Los Angeles Apartments, (Los Angeles: Anderson, Ritchie & Simon) [Δ]
Ruscha, Edward, 1966, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, (Los Angeles: Edward Ruscha) [Δ]
Ruscha, Edward, 1999, Heaven - Edward Ruscha: Editions 1959-1999 - Catalogue Raisonne [Δ]
Ruscha, Edward, 2004, Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) [Edited by Alexander Schwartz] [Δ]
Wolf, Sylvia, 2004, Ed Ruscha and Photography, (Göttingen, Germany: Steidl Verlag) [Δ]
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Vito Acconci (1940-) • John Baldessari (1931-) • Mel Bochner (1940-) • Stan Douglas (1960-) • Dan Graham • John Hilliard (1945-) • Sherrie Levine (1947-) • Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) • Bruce Nauman (1941-) • Martha Rosler (1943-) • Edward Ruscha (1937-)
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