The History of Photography as Art


Course description

For many, photographs are little more than visual representations—largely byproducts of technology. Yet, others consider photography an art form long overdue in recognition. Once considered painting’s successor, photography has largely resided in a parallel universe. Complicating matters, change within photography has pitted the new vanguard against purists protecting its sanctity. Often overlooked in this are the image and its content. As art historians ponder the Mona Lisa’s smile and dissect The Beatles’ songs played backwards, critical analysis of photographs has lagged in comparison. In this course, students will examine photography’s evolution from early light-sensitive varnish images to digital technology. An overview of, plus reasons for, photography’s rising stock within contemporary art—specifically the trend to “staged” images—will underscore its fine art credentials. Beyond photographers seeking inspiration, The History of Photography as Art is also for art lovers wishing to learn more about this growing art form.

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