Photography Series: Three Most Important Schools of Photography - Part I of III
This series of three pieces features three major schools of Contemporary Photography. Follow us to read more.
As a social practice, photography allows the encounter of people who share a deep passion for the visual record of everything that surrounds them. This, naturally, leads to the formation of very peculiar groups, which, on rare occasions, become institutionalized in brutal and iconic ways.
Some groups, such as the “International Center of Photography” or the legendary “Magnum Photo” agency, aim at the professional development of the image. But on the other hand, there are also institutions that seek to give photography its place in the art world. And by them we mean organized efforts that go beyond the white cube efforts such as those attributed to John Szarkowski, about whom we will talk in more detail on another occasion.
Naturally, we are talking about collective movements better known as “Schools”. The interesting thing about this case is that this denomination is not the product of a formal institutionalization process, but of legitimacy and social validity given by the broad field of contemporary photography.
We share with you a little about the legacy of the 3 most important photographic schools in the contemporary historical context. Naturally, these are not the only existing photographic schools that enjoy the status that characterizes the Boston, Düsseldorf and Helsinki Schools. But beyond their popularity and renown, they offer useful resources for any photography enthusiast who wishes to take both their content and visual discourse to the next level.
The Boston School
This school is perhaps the most informal group on our list, and is the result of an atypical conjunction of students from the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Influenced by the work of Larry Clark, the movement took shape from 1975 onwards, and consolidated itself as an important reference for contemporary photography. Its aesthetic proposal is characterized by documentary works developed around strident themes of the daily life of the time.
Conceptually, the works derived from this movement came to the defense of veracity through the narrative of intimate everyday moments that escaped from the great stories of interest. This discursive coup vindicated subjectivity expressed through moral and sexual freedom. Some of its most representative figures are mentioned below.
Philip-Lorca DiCorcia (1951 – )
Although his work often falls outside the visual average of the school, his work has greatly influenced the development of a novel street photography that is open to possibilities beyond the purist tradition established by mid-twentieth century humanist photography.
He first studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts and then attended Yale University, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography in 1979. He currently resides in New York City, and teaches at Yale University in Connecticut. In addition, you may remember him for having been in the news a few years ago after a litigation that allows us to reflect and problematize around very interesting issues such as identity and personal space.
Nan Goldin (1953 – )
Famous for her self-portraits, images of the daily life of marginalized groups and portraits with a strong social charge, Nan Goldin is the protagonist of an empathetic aesthetic oriented towards the transcendence of those who are in front of her camera. The first witnesses of this way of taking photographs were her closest friends, with which she leaves us an enormous lesson about the answer to the existential doubt that arises when we ask ourselves what can we photograph?
In his photographic work, we can find clear reminiscences with the work of Cindy Sherman and Larry Clark. In 1980, he began to accompany his exhibitions with background music, and in 1981 he published his most emblematic work to date, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”. Her life was traversed by success and substance abuse, and as she overcame these complexities, she began to develop a deep interest in visual studies of the “self”.
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