The Informative Overview of the Growing Medium of Photography in Mary Warner Marien’s Book

Category: Photography
Last Updated: 03 May 2023
Essay type: Informative
Pages: 6 Views: 101

Photography: A Cultural History by Mary Warner Marien, is a informative overview of the growing medium of photography. She examines main as well as unfamiliar figures over time, theories which took place in the transition of its existence, as well as prehistory of each movement in which photography had part on. Through detailed analysis of world wide styles, Marien gives ideological paths with the concerning aesthetics or historical debates. Through out this book it is reviewing photography from beginning receptions and scans how it influences our experiences in this world. This book introduces readers to photography without needing a major background. The weighing of the mediums long term multifold developments allowed the scope of historical and intellectual contexts and are effective in the way that it expands its purpose to a larger audience. Unlike certain texts such as "Resurrecting Vision: The New Photography in Europe Between the Wars" by Christopher Phillips and the book "Photography:A Critical Introduction" by Liz Wells, Marien's overview is directing its view to a broader p of genres.

At the beginning of the book, Marien discusses the introduction of the medium to culture as well as the rapid popularity in certain cultures. Photography was used as a means of archiving life like never before and people were able to discover places cultures and art that were never made accessible before. From the beginning of photography, in which it was used as more of a hobby, the process was rapidly becoming a international industry. There was many artists and journalists who saw photography as a growing means in introducing science, art and popular interest. Photography became more involved in the art world and there was beginning to be growing discussion of photography changing peoples perceptions. As Marie's book continues, it is noticeable how she perceives photography influence over time. Specifically with the evolvement of 1920s and 30s change in America culture. Chapter 8 and 9 (put name of chapters) in Mariens book starts to focus more on the change of art with the development of photography rather then the advancements. In the beginning readings there was always discussion of arts role in photography but during this time of post WWI and during the time of WWII photography had a much larger involvement then say other mediums such as painting or sculpture. Further more with the change in economy photography played a much larger role in the public perception of reality then before. By involving politics and documentary means such as newspapers and magazines archiving life took a backseat to informing people about the rapid changing world.

Chapter 8, Art and the Age of Mass Media, is the start of the Authors change in focus of photographic influence. She starts with the introduction of Photojournalism. This new means of displaying information became important in providing political views. It became a mass produced illustrative photography which started the discussion of influenced perception. With the invention of the Liaca, the ability to document freely was very popular to some artists. It made photography accessible and allowed tabloids to be a method thing of information. The author uses artists such Erich Soloman and Raoul Hausmann (how did they influence with art) as examples of influential people during this time of journalism. Discussion of revolutionary art came into view as Marien discusses the European involvement in art movements. The Russian Revolution helped the growing views of Avant Garde through Futurism and Cubism. There was a need for a utopian feel through out the people and Artist such as El Lissitzy showed this though his geometric juxtapositions with photos. It became important for artists to employ technology in order to mold and project opinion. With the development of photomantage Gustav Klusis and Rodchenko made their way into the art world. As Cubism comes into play, Marien discusses Faktura (?) and its importance in discovery of new perceptions for photography. She shifts her discussion into Dada where she emphasizes the importance of photomantage as a art form but also social informative means. She uses Hach and Hausmann to explain her opinion and their involvement in political juxtapositionsns and artistic form. (how) Fakturagainns peaks its head into the world with the help of Moholy Nagy, only with a new twist. This time Moholy Nagy attempts to separate photography from imitation of paintings. Before in Pictoralism classical compositions were ideal and now Marien is showing the favoritism of industrial materials and concepts. With the change in social revolution, artists hoped to become independent from the past.

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Marien talked of Moholy Nagy subject matter revolving around light allowing new methods to come about such as pictograms. Next Marien projects the ideal of Surrealist Photography. Unlike any movement involving photography, surrealism was more about the conflict of ones consciousness. It transformed the human perception and experience through a greater conflict of the inner world of imagination. The author uses Man Ray and his Rayographs to represent this time . (how) His conjunction of mundane recognizable objects flatten ones perception. Solarization was introduces with Surrealism making Brulage, burning of film, a popular technique because of its unpredictability. Towards the end of the chapter Marien discusses Experimental Photography and the advertising which involved most of the time sensual lighting over certain artists interpretations as well as the application of graphic design. Lastly she discusses the American involvement specifically California. Again the idea of utopianism of modern photography is made a central topic. This being the "fuzzy graphs' or crisp representations.(in what) A idea that groups like F.64 attempts to accomplish.

In chapter 9 Social Science, Social Change, and the Camera, the tone of the book seems to break away from artistic means and towards the involvement of photography in documentary and social contexts. The Great Depression had hit and people were more focused on the changing economy. Documentary Photography allowed for the world to have insight on relative imagery of ordinary people. It was a nonfictional subject matter in which people can relate to. Marien discusses the R.A. Group and their attempts to capture this hard time. The pursuit for truthful publicity rather then biased propaganda. Artists like Dorthia Lange and Authur Rothstein also attempted this. Marien reveals the FSA's clear eyed subject oriented style in which was presented to the public.

As the author travels through history she discusses Worker Photography and the depiction on urban life. The photo League and Harlem Documents we used to make vivid. WWII broke out and documentary photography became more propaganda based. Photographs images were controlled from the public view in Europe as well as America. Hitlers role in political images with Heinrich Hoffman and photomantages manipulating public view with Heart field. This lead to discussion of war photos and the Government involvement of that.

This chapter wasn't solely surrounding around social and economic catastrophes. Marie also discusses the documentation with popular science and Art. More of a art form, documenting certain compositions in science became a popular aspect. It was a insight and investigation on scientific forms. This allowed insight on images that would never be able to be seen with the naked eye such as still shots, quick movement photography and the strobe photography. Further more with this technique textbooks were allowed more informative images. Lastly Marien discusses the photo booth and the change on portraiture. The instant gratification it brought made it a popular art at this time.

Mariens description of photography history is strong in the standpoint that it is a scan of world wide views on the developments at this time. However this might not be in great depth. She still discusses European and American influences. Compared to Phillips Article, she is more on a scholarly level. The writings by Phillips discusses more of the influences during these movements. He goes through the history of photography however more focalized on European artists which influenced the development of growth. He believed that photography is depicted and manipulated. Marien touches on this subject but not in great depth. Phillips article is more directed towards an audience interested in the personal involvement of these artists and how they influenced perception. Marien does have a specific audience but the connection is solely photography. Her p of attention is much wider.

Another aspect in which makes Mariens text effective is her ability to cover contexts which surrounded photography but does not lose readers on dry tangents of debates discussed during the time. Compared to Wells, there is more of a discussion about photography then semiotic debates, political contexts and social reasoning. Her audience is not a focalized on the nature of photographic seeing but also on the growth of viewer with the growth of photography. Wells is less archival and more on the theory of photography. Further more because of his belief that photography cannot have its own history due to documentation.

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The Informative Overview of the Growing Medium of Photography in Mary Warner Marien’s Book. (2023, May 03). Retrieved from

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