Sontag: The Heroism of Vision

 As part of Sontag's discussion about photographic beauty she mentions Paul Strand, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Edward Weston as practitioners of the "The abstracting eye..." (p. 91)


Paul Strand's "Abstract Patterns Made by Bowls".

Lazlo Moholy-Nagy was part of the German Bauhaus movement during the 1920s and 30s.

He was mainly known as a painter and was known for his ideas about "intensive seeing". p. 95

Edward Weston had an "abstracting eye" and "made nude photography respectable in the late 1920s and 30s.  p. 92, 98

"The camera can be lenient: it is also expert at being cruel." p.104


Sontag notes two cases where a photograph resembles a work or works of art that preceded it. The first is a famous photograph by noted photographer W. Eugene Smith. Sontag writes "Smith's photograph... a Pieta for the world of plague victims..." p.105 - 106. Read more about this photograph here.



An interactive 3D rendering of Michelangelo's Pieta is here.



The second congruence Sontag mentions between the preceding world of fine art and more recent photography also conjoins political and religious iconography. The essay Sontag refers to on page 107 is here.  She refers to "...the political associations and moral meaning of a photograph Berger found too satisfying aesthetically, too suggestive iconographically." p.108 In his essay Berger refers to the intentions of the photograph as "a political warning".



"The photograph of Che Guevara is finally... beautiful as was the man." p.109



"...the camera's ability to transform reality into something beautiful derives from its relative weakness as a means of conveying truth." p. 112