The Facts and The Truth

Documentary and Expressive Photography in the Permanent Collection of the Seattle Art Museum

Rod Slemmons, Seattle Art Museum, 1991

In the late 1970s and early 1980s philosophers and social historians examining the connections between perception theory and photographic representation began to suspect the complicated role of photography as a cultural phenomenon. The relationship between documentary and expressive photography raised numerous questions: Why do two categories exist, especially when so many photographic artists use conventions invented and elaborated by non-artist documentarians? Is the distinction driven by the marketplace, or by scholarship in need of pigeonholes? Should art always resemble traditional forms--landscape, portrait, still life, formal or conceptual abstraction--and evidence always be distinguished by its subject? Why do historic documentary photographers increasingly enter the canon of fine art?

full pdf
Artist Projectsmaterials + image archiveAboutEducation