Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Sontag

For those of you who have been complaining that my posts here aren't nearly verbose or esoteric enough, I'd heartily encourage you to check out Susan Sontag's collection of essays: On Photography. If you're a fan of intense ruminations on the nature of this art, peppered with obscure references and replete with a greater density of poly-syllabic words than the ingredients list on a Twinkie wrapper, this is the book for you.

A passage that I find particularly interesting follows:

"The camera can be lenient; it is also expert at being cruel. But its cruelty only produces another kind of beauty, according to the surrealist preferences which rule photographic taste Thus, while fashion photography is based on the fact that something can be more beautiful in a photograph than in real life, it is not surprising that some photographers who serve fashion are also drawn to the non-photogenic. There is a perfect complementarity between Avedon's fashion photography, which flatters, and the work in which he comes on as The One Who Refuses to Flatter-- for example, the elegant, ruthless portraits Avedon did in 1972 of his dying father. The traditional function of portrait painting, to embellish or idealize the subject, remains the aim of everyday and of commercial photography, but it has a much more limited career in photography considered as an art. Generally speaking, the honors have gone to the Cordelias."

1 comment:

amydale said...

thanks for the recommendation!