4 Responses to “Pictorialism vs Modernism”


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  1. Hi Steve,

    Enjoyed reading this article, there was much of your observations to which I can relate.

    Since Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain – Urinal – Readymade” the edges between Pictorialism, Modernism, Post Modernism has become blurred. Many famous Photographers and Artists have developed whole bodies of work which could be interpreted as Minimal/Pictorial, Mapplethorpe’s “Flowers”, Penn’s “Still Life”, Letinsky’s “Moments in Time”, Fay Godwin’s “Minimalist Landscapes” and Harold Feinstein’s “Foliage”.

    All of the above are very diverse in their other work and, I believe, were following their own ideas and not conforming to any given school of thought at the time. Yet they are gathered in retrospect under the Modernist/Post Modernist banner by those who see their position, to classify and label such.

    I haven’t considered my own pictorial/modernist output in percentages, as I don’t feel it comes anywhere near to explain my motivation to create one or other. Where reality can be beautiful and real, the pictorial can be brutal and unreal, like gazing at clouds or the surface of water, there are so many intangibles. The challenge is to see beyond the surface.

    My dilemma is that I also know that the process of creating a photograph is to immediately create an object, and that “moment” of reality ceases to be, to exist instead as myth.


    Bernd and Hilla Becher’s images of Power Plants, long held as triumphs of Post-Modernism, are despite their best efforts to strip away all aesthetic rhetoric, now beautiful objects and removed from the “Real Truth” by degrees of familiarity.

    Well thats a few views of my own on the subject.




  1. […] S.  (2013) Pictorialism vs Modernism [online article].  Available at: http://theminimalistphotographer.com/pictorialism-vs-modernism/ [Accessed 15 February […]

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