Waves Thru Time

Up In Arms About Jonathan Jones?


I was perusing the web and came across an article written by Matthew Oxley at WorldPhoto.org about a series of recent articles on photography by Jonathan Jones.  He wrote several pieces last year that implied that fine art and photography are two subjects that should never be discussed together in the same breath.   Unless, that is, to proclaim the utter hatred of photography.

This is fine. It’s his opinion and it does not bother me that he doesn’t like photography. He claims that photography is not art. He loves to present photography as a mere technological tool that is best left to some wannabe foolish ape.  I disagree of course. But as an American, and a Texan I’m quite used to people saying what they think and I will respect his opinion.

Proclaiming hatred for this person or his writings would serve no purpose but to light fires of indignation between those for photography as an art and those against.  My purpose is not to attack his opinion of art at all.  It’s a huge waste of time and simply throws around negativity.

But as a photographic artist it makes me melancholy to read those articles. Mr. Jones makes it exceedingly clear he wouldn’t value me as an artist. I make photographic art after all and, by his definition of art alone, I am a mere parasite in the art world.

However, I am also a collector of fine art too and after reading several of his articles about art he left me wondering. Is it his belief that as an art critic he must negatively attack any art forms he doesn’t personally enjoy?

Mr. Jones obviously enjoys the paintings of Caravaggio, Da Vinci, and other masters. It’s just strange that they are all he seems to enjoy.  The rest of the art world seems little more than undigested offal to him.

Or does the Guardian make him do this? Is it one of his superiors insisting that he writes articles full of discontent about an art style so it will sell more advertisements in that publication?  Media bias is a form of drama, and it’s well understood that drama sells papers.

To the point, all I had to do was to look at the last couple months of his articles to gather his wonderfully bitter harvest of flowery discontent with the art world in general. Looking at the headlines of articles authored since Oct. gives me great pause as to his collective objectivity for art as medium meant for enjoyment.

Celebrating fakes is moronic … it’s real art that matters

– Jan. 14,2015

National Gallery: a crushingly dull documentary that lacks an eye for art

–Jan. 5,2015

Christmas and contemporary art? Like chalk and blue cheese

 -Dec. 9 2015

2014: the year British art became irrelevant

-Dec. 2, 2014

The Sistine Chapel in 3D? The Vatican must think we are all idiots

-Oct. 30, 2014

The Tower of London poppies are fake, trite and inward-looking – a Ukip-style memorial

-Oct. 28, 2014


I left out the obvious titles of the 4 negative pieces dealing with photography because at this point I thought it would seem I was taking advantage of the his discord. Or, said another way, beating an already dead horse.  I say all this because I get the distinct impression that Mr. Jones is not enjoying art anymore.

I know that when people began to see things they once loved in a way manifesting near constant negativity it is a sign of burn-out and frustration.  It is time for them to reassess and reacquire their love and passion for what they do.

As that I do not personally know him, if I have misunderstood his writings I humbly apologize. The difficulty is that writing is also an art, and it requires that a rapport between the artist/writer and the reader take place.

Unfortunately, as most artists well know this rapport is phantasmal and fleeting at best and the wrong conclusions about a piece is easily made. One day I hope Mr. Jones understands that the art of writing is also like photography; it’s all about how you shed light on the subject.   It’s that light that gives it texture and mood after all.

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