Wednesday, August 27


About Style

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IN 1885, in an introduction to Leaves Of Grass, the legendary poet Walt Whitman wrote that the writer, "Says to his art, I will not be meddlesome, I wfll not have in my writing any elegance or effect or originality to hang in the way between me and the rest like curtains. I will have nothing hang in the way, not the richest curtains. What I tell I tell for precisely what it is."

He was writing about the phenomenon of style. Whitman argued that style was an ornamental 'curtain' which distracts the viewer or obscures meaning. In a sense there are many who argue something similar about photography today. They are concerned that the new techniques of post processing come between the meaning of an image and the viewer... that they are so much distraction. But as virtually every art critic living now agrees, there is no way to strip style from statement. They are as married as skin is to a body.

Soarr is a photographic image. Notice I do not write, 'Soar is a photograph.' Why? because it is more than the photo which underlies it. Better? Here's the virgin image from the Compact Card....

That's for you to judge from the virgin image below. But certainly we'll all agree that it's different as a result of my style.

Style is the manner in which an artist presents an idea or feeling. It can be critiqued - probably should be. But style itself cannot be dismissed as a curtain. Take it away and there is no message. Whitman was wrong.


Andreas said...

Oh my! Style again. I have certainly written more than once about it. I regard style as a clever invention of salespeople, but I certainly don't see it as a category of any relevance to a living artist.

Of course it could be said that you have a style, and I guess it could even be said of me, but would you really agree if I said "Ted Byrne has the style XY"? And even if you did, I know better, because I know that Ted Byrne has great fun in contradicting himself :)

Style is for the dead and for the "Good As Dead". No need to worry about it.

Btw: awesome image :)

Chad Oneil Myers said...

Love what you did with that plane, Ted.

Brian Bastinelli said...


I love this image! It is really one of my favorite images that you have ever posted.

Love it , love it, love it.

Theodore Black said...

Love what you did with your picture! You remain an inspiration to me. I took some time this weekend and scoped out an artfair. there were three photographic booths. All three were different but the same. None I would say have ventured into the creative style. I for one am still searching for mine but have come to the conclustion that mastery of the craft doesn't in and of itself make for a good artist. When you put nothing of yourself into a picture but the technical aspect you give nothing to the person that is viewing the image. anyhow I thank you for adding me on my quest.

Yours the other Ted


Did my first triptych will be up on my site this morning :)

John Roberts said...

Your "conversion" both humbles me, and inspires me to try again on my airplane images

Ted said...

(Andreas) If we removed style... What would be left? It is an inextricable part of all art. And it is not even a question of how much.

(Chad) Thanks but I betcha you coulda done better.

(Brian) How nice of you to like something that is so unlike the wonderful things you usually do. Thanks

(Theo) Gotta go see your trip... As for inspiration... Whoa! Heavy load to bear.

(John) Do ... gotta go visit your site to see your planes.

Andreas said...

Yes and no. For the artist, style is a useless category. It is a summarizing concept, contradictory to the uniqueness of the single piece of art. Our "styles" are entities of not more than statistical relevance.

Nope. Style is a label to be used by non-artistic salesmen :)