Frank Agar, 1970
After last nights preview my thoughts returned to my days in school: taking photo classes (mostly independent study), experimenting (literally 'working in the dark') and being with perhaps the only person I consider my mentor- Frank Agar. My attention-deficit fueled scholastic career really only gelled in one place- as his lab assistant. His approach to his classes was refreshing, he had no apparent dogma to uphold, his open approach to everything photographic was a welcome alternative to my isolated, anomic existence.
In contrast, photos in last night's preview were fairly pedestrian, "safe" in subject matter and approach. But such is the legacy of the academic tradition. The digital revolution in photography was in evidence with various Photo-Shop enhanced prints, but still stuck in a 1930's to 1960's mindset. In contrast, painting, drawing and printmaking all had wildly divergent visions on display. One problem might be in the entrance categories- tradition printmaking (Intaglio, Lithography, and variations thereof) is well defined. Photography, since the advent of quality digital cameras and high-quality ink-jet printing, is still in flux and straining against its "purist" traditions.
Frank is gone now, but his open approach remains with me. There are exciting times ahead for those with an equally broad vision.