Art Direction

What is Art Direction?

Art Direction is the means by which the creative idea can be expressed.

-Nik Mahon Art Direction 2010

Art Direction should help an idea rather than hinder it.  Art direction should be a window rather than a beautifully painted wall.

-David Christenson (quoted by Nik Mahon)

Gregroy Crewston:

Ideas

•Psychology
•Fear
•Anxiety
•American Landscape

Production

•Narrative
•Visual research into artists and Photographers
•Production team
Art Direction Task: Pick one photographer and make an illustrated blog post about the ideas their work provokes in your mind:
Joel Peter Witkin
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“It happened on a Sunday when my mother was escorting my twin brother and me down the steps of the tenement where we lived. We were going to church. While walking down the hallway to the entrance of the building, we heard an incredible crash mixed with screaming and cries for help. The accident involved three cars, all with families in them. Somehow, in the confusion, I was no longer holding my mother’s hand. At the place where I stood at the curb, I could see something rolling from one of the overturned cars. It stopped at the curb where I stood. It was the head of a little girl. I bent down to touch the face, to speak to it — but before I could touch it someone carried me away.”
-Joel Peter Witkin on the stemming of his visionary influences from when he was a young boy witnessing a tragic car accident in which a young girl was decapitated.
The main themes which an be found in Witkin’s work seem to be the following:
  • The shock factor-Witkins most notable work has often featured graphic representations of social outsiders such as hermaphrodites and transsexuals.
  • Transgressive nature-Witkin looks to outrage his audience or violate basic sensibilities.
  • Death-Photographs containing portions of corpses strengthen Witkin’s ability to disgust his viewers so that innocence is completely disregarded.
  • Technique-scratching of negatives in Witkins work looks to provoke and highlight the sinister content featured in his photographs.
  • Exploitation-the photographs in Witkin’s work seem to never show its content in a compassionate way, it comes across as highly invasive and somewhat perverted.
30-joel-peter-witkin-etherton
joel-peter-witkin-the-kiss
In a sense, Witkin completely qualifies in photographing hard to digest images in the direction that he has chosen and has clearly made a career out of producing images that markets his work with utter shock value. However, I personally find a majority of these images really quite vulgar; especially the image above which is his most notable and controversial image  of which he quite literally sawed a head in half and turned each side back on itself to give the illusion of kissing; quite frankly perverts the theme of death in an unsettling and repulsive manner. Despite this, I can understand why Witkin has become an icon for those who appreciate his fearless and subversive approach to art direction.
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