Wednesday, December 17, 2008

art meets commerce

Daniel Akst in The American on "the Business Photography of Bill Wood"...

Pictures Took.jpg

Modern artists have a love-hate relationship with business....Yet today bohemia is largely hostile to commerce, and artists are supposed to shun the subventions of the affluent, who in the past commissioned some of the greatest works ever created, in order to pursue their own vision alone.

Then there was Bill Wood, who for more than 30 years ran a thriving commercial photography business in Fort Worth, Texas, where he shot what people paid him to shoot—including sales meetings, ribbon cuttings, funeral homes, and dachshunds. Every print was stamped on the back: “Another Picture Took by Bill Wood.”

Wood died in 1973 and in all likelihood had no idea that he was creating one of the largest, quirkiest, and most innocently artful records of mid-century middle-class life. Nor could he have imagined that the 20,000 negatives he left (only the surviving part of his larger life’s work) would be acquired by the actress Diane Keaton, or that she would present them to New York’s International Center of Photography, where a selection would comprise the remarkable exhibition “Bill Wood’s Business”...

Through his commercial lens a sharp, sad, funny, mysterious, and—yes—helplessly artistic vision emerges.


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