Alec Soth and the Unintended Portfolio Review

I first came upon Alec Soth’s work a few years ago at a Chelsea art gallery that was displaying images from his Sleeping by the Mississipi project. His brand of contemporary portraiture is spartan in nature, and made me feel like the world is a lonely place. It was work that I was immediately attached to because of its quiet, evocative nature.

Today, I came across his blog, and found this posting:

It seems that the blokes on the infamous DPreview forums got a hold of one of his images and started going to town on how it lacked merit, was poorly executed, and was nothing more than a snapshot masquerading as art. When it was pointed out that Soth was a part of Magnum and had won two prestigious awards, one pundit downplayed it by saying that Magnum used to be prestigious and he had won some awards as well.

Technology is wonderful for connecting humans together like never before. E-mail, IM, texting, skype have all revolutionized the way we communicate. But message boards, ah message boards…people gain a level of confidence and obstinateness that is unmatched by other forms of communication.

I’m not so arrogant to presume that I know “art” any better than the next guy, but it’s ridiculous to denigrate a successful artist who not only has garnered critical acclaim, but financial success as well. Fortunately, Soth is good-natured about the incident, and points out that blogging is “no less nerdy” than hanging out on the message boards.

So I tip my hat to Soth for refraining from an artist’s rant, and for continuing to create beautiful snapshots masquerading as terrible art.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Thomas Pickard at 9:56 am

    Late last year I managed to view a copy of Alec Sloth’s book on the Mississippi whilst in Sri Lanka and I would have to agree Allen – contemporary, spartan portraiture. Just beautiful work, IMHO. As for forums…YES! What is IT about forums that make some people experts? I just wish that some posters wouldn’t be so rigid in their thinking and so easy giving their criticism. And if I read another forum thread about whether Nikon is better than Canon or vice-versa, I think I’ll cry.

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