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Contemporary theory and criticism of photography has generally taken the form of a face-off between formalism and contextualism. The first postion contends that what is required to understand a photograph is prmarily a close examination of its formal structure, the ability to connect it to other art forms, and perhpas some knowledge of the artist's biography and intentions. The second position holds that photographs have no meaning outside of the scoial and political context of their making. For the most part, these positions have been hardened and adversarial.
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art
Art and Design
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, "Beauty, Truth, and Fact : Photography in 1930s America" (2001). Exhibit Catalogues. 4.