An explosion of the myth that a little black box is any more soulless than a paint brush or a chisel, or a typewriter, or a pen that scrawls symphonies is long past due. And perhaps monographs on the creative side of such men as Alfred Stieglitz or Edward Weston would do the trick.
Sir Kenneth Clark, an able art historian, formerly of the National Gallery in London, is now president of the Arts Council of Great Britain. The following excerpts from a Centenary Lecture given before the Royal Photographic Society on 13 October 1953 have considerable bearing on the topic, what kind of an art might photography be?
4. SUMMARY OF THE STEPS IN PLANNING PHOTOGRAPHS WITH THE ZONE SYSTEM
The Zone System of planned photography grew out of Ansel Adams' search for controls by which he could make prints that possessed the utmost illusion of substance and reality regardless of lighting conditions. In this way alone could his love of things as they appear to the eye remain undiminished, and, if humanly possible, be augmented.
This isn't so much a letter as a soliloquy with myself. Two very disturbing things have happened. The minor item is that we gave Tuk—our Eskimo dog—to the Brandt's today. I received a heated note this morning from Richard—Tuk had eaten his dog food and he was angry, so much so that he suggested I tie her up—with an or else tone in his letter.
The recent publication of The Stereo Realist Manual puts into sharp focus a question seldom asked: Why have so few of the great photographers of all time used the stereoscopic camera? Why have we no three-dimensional pictures by such as Cameron, Emerson, Robinson, Atget, Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand, Adams, Weston, Cartier-Bresson?
Comparing the 1955 Annuals a most subversive thought occurs: perhaps annuals are old fashioned, out of date, and not really fitted to our times. Perhaps the idea of the annual, that is, a heterogeneous collection of unrelated pictures that claim to contain "great" photographs mixed with the efforts of youngsters and masters, journalism, abstractions, money making nudes, and further mixed with claims of being a cross section of the year's photographs, is little more than a hangover from the 19th Century just before World War I.