Beauty in photography; essays in defence of traditional values
Author: Robert Adams
Spoiler alert: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Form creates beauty. When considering the former; it is wise to distinguish whether the beauty applied to a specific photograph or artwork is embodied directly through the subject matter or situated in the construction and composition of the piece. Robert Adams dissects the relationship between beauty and art. He specifically applies his thoughts and opinions to photography in the text ‘Beauty in photography’.
Adams discusses the concept of beauty needing to feel accessible and commonplace to the viewer. He states that a photograph that looks as if it has been easily executed is more convincingly beautiful. However, it is explained; that he certainly doesn’t feel that any artwork is easy to make and brings to our attention an example (Mu Ch’i’s ink drawing ‘The Six Persimmons’) of an unforgettable piece of artwork, that looks beautifully effortless whilst appreciating the study and control that it took to create.
Another aspect of this text, that I found interesting, is the idea that artists choose to create based upon their ‘amazement at subject matter’. The subject could be as limited as a bell pepper. Although, the photographer Edward Weston’s shot ‘Pepper No. 30’ depicts the unlimited beauty, form and tone found within a simple black and white image. Lastly, the text indicates towards the idea and well known saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. If the particular form of a subject matter; whether abstract or realist, allows both the photographer and the viewer to witness the rediscovery of beauty, it has been a successful experience.