LOS ANGELES, CA.-
It has been said that the snapshot is folk art without guile or pretension an art that is uninterested in its own art aspirations. Sometimes mysterious, obsessional and sometimes funny, they are often just plain strange. Vernacular photography, at it's best, is most of all compelling imagery that was not created as art but has become art with the aid of a curator's eye.
It is the collector/selector, of these images, out of so many available, that re-contextualizes them into something that places the work in the realm of art. With the passage of time these photographs have gained a patina of history, irony and kitsch. Often taken by untrained photographers, there is a freshness to these images from an unschooled eye that can seem profound.
The dictionary defines vernacular as using the language native to a region rather than a literary cultured one. Non-standard and a common form of language synonymous with indigenous, colloquial, everyday, ordinary and familiar. A photographic definition would include anonymous, snapshot, erotic, forensic, military, industrial, medical, family album and newspaper.
Fine-art photographers have always looked to the snapshot as a source of inspiration and the artless style of family function amateur snapshots have been appropriated by photographers as diverse as William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin and Sally Mann. Vernacular's continuing chic is reflected in rising prices, museum exhibitions, and publications. People respond to the excitement of this imagery and if that's the way one responds, the best of these images is as good as the best of anything else. This growing vogue for vernacular photography among collectors and dealers continues to be one of the most exciting developments in photography collecting.
The exhibition opens Thursday, July 25 and runs through Saturday, September 7, 2013.
Collecting vernacular photography is a compulsion for a truth, an honesty and sometimes a profound beauty that has been "found" in the artless intent of their makers far removed from their original purpose, which continues to capture our imagination. Stephen Cohen
is located at 7354 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036