Photography and Art
The earliest controversies about the relationship between photography and art centered on whether photograph’s fidelity to appearances and dependence on a machine allowed it to be a fine art as distinct from merely a practical art. Throughout the nineteenth century, the defence of photography was identical with the struggle to establish it as a fine art. Against the charge that photography was a soulless, mechanical copying of reality, photographers asserted that it was instead a privileged way of seeing, a revolt against commonplace vision, and no less worthy an art than painting.
Ironically, now that photography is securely established as a fine art, many photographers find it pretentious or irrelevant to label it as such. Serious photographers variously claim to be finding, recording, impartially observing, witnessing events, exploring themselves—anything but making works of art. They are no longer willing to debate whether photography is or is not a fine art, except to proclaim that their own work is not involved with art. It shows the extent to which they simply take for granted the concept of art imposed by the triumph of Modernism: the better the art, the more subversive it is of the traditional aims of art.
Photographers’ disclaimers of any interest in making art tell us more about the harried status of the contemporary notion of art than about whether photography is or is not art. For example, those photographers who suppose that, by taking pictures, they are getting away from the pretensions of art as exemplified by painting remind us of those Abstract Expressionist painters who imagined they were getting away from the intellectual austerity of classical Modernist painting by concentrating on the physical act of painting. Much of photography’s prestige today derives from the convergence of its aims with those of recent art, particularly with the dismissal of abstract art implicit in the phenomenon of Pop painting during the 1960’s. Appreciating photographs is a relief to sensibilities tired of the mental exertions demanded by abstract art. Classical Modernist painting—that is, abstract art as developed in different ways by Picasso, Kandinsky, and Matisse—presupposes highly developed skills of looking and a familiarity with other paintings and the history of art. Photography, like Pop painting, reassures viewers that art is not hard; photography seems to be more about its subjects than about art.
Photography, however, has developed all the anxieties and self-consciousness of a classic Modernist art. Many professionals privately have begun to worry that the promotion of photography as an activity subversive of the traditional pretensions of art has gone so far that the public will forget that photography is a distinctive and exalted activity—in short, an art.
1. What is the author mainly concerned with? The author is concerned with
[A]. defining the Modernist attitude toward art.
[B]. explaining how photography emerged as a fine art.
[C]. explaining the attitude of serious contemporary photographers toward photography as art and placing those attitudes in their historical context.
[D]. defining the various approaches that serious contemporary photographers take toward their art and assessing the value of each of those approaches.
2. Which of the following adjectives best describes “the concept of art imposed by the triumph of Modernism” as the author represents it in lines 12—13?
[A]. Objective [B]. Mechanical. [C]. Superficial. [D]. Paradoxical.
3. Why does the author introduce Abstract Expressionist painter?
[A]. He wants to provide an example of artists who, like serious contemporary photographers, disavowed traditionally accepted aims of modern art.
[B]. He wants to set forth an analogy between the Abstract Expressionist painters and classical Modernist painters.
[C]. He wants to provide a contrast to Pop artist and others.
[D]. He wants to provide an explanation of why serious photography, like other contemporary visual forms, is not and should not pretend to be an art.
4. How did the nineteenth-century defenders of photography stress the photography?
[A]. They stressed photography was a means of making people happy.
[B]. It was art for recording the world.
[C]. It was a device for observing the world impartially.
[D]. It was an art comparable to painting.
1. fine arts 美术(指绘画，雕刻，建筑，诗歌，音乐等)
2. assert 主张，声明，维护(权利)
3. privileged 特殊的，享受特权的，特许的
4. pretentious 狂妄的，做作的
5. irrelevant 不相干的，无关的
6. subversive 破坏性的，颠覆性的
7. disclaimer 弃权者
8. harry 掠夺，折磨
9. austerity 严格，简朴
10. convergence 聚合，集合点
11. implicit 含蓄的
12. distinctive 区别的，独特的
13. exalted 高贵的，高尚的
1. C. 说明当代严肃的摄影家对摄影作为艺术的态度，并把他们这些态度放在历史的进程来观察。见文章大意。他们先为摄影是否是艺术而争辩，后为否定其艺术而努力。重点放在主题上。
A. 界定显得主义者对艺术的态度。 B. 解释摄影是如何作为美术出现的。第一段涉及，见难句译注2。 D. 界定当代严肃摄影家对待他们艺术所具有的各种观点，并评定每种观点的价值。这三项只是文内提到的某些方面，不是主要的。
2. D. 矛盾的。见难句译注3。
A. 客观的。 B. 机械的。 C. 表面的。
3. A. 他要列举这样艺术家的例子，他们象当代严肃的摄影家一样抛弃了传统上被接受的现代艺术目的。见第三段第二句：“举例说，这些认为通过拍照可以摆脱绘画所表现的艺术的矫饰的摄影家，使我们想起了那些抽象表现主义绘画的严肃的思想。”
B. 他想在抽象表现主义画家和古典现代主义画家之间找出相似点。 C. 他要在流行艺术家和其它艺术家之间作一个对比。 D. 他想解释为什么严肃摄影，象其它当代视觉形式一样不是艺术，而且也不应当充作艺术。
4. D. 摄影是一种艺术，可以和油画相比美。见难句译注2。
A. 他们强调摄影是使人们快乐的手段。 B. 是记录世界的艺术。 C. 摄影是公正观察世界的工具。