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Four Arts of Photography: An Essay in Philosophy

ISBN: 978-1-119-05317-0
200 pages
March 2016
Four Arts of Photography: An Essay in Philosophy (111905317X) cover image


Four Arts of Photography explores the history of photography through the lens of philosophy and proposes a new scholarly understanding of the art form for the 21st century.

  • Re-examines the history of art photography through four major photographic movements and with case studies of representative images
  • Employs a top-down, theory to case approach, as well as a bottom-up, case to theory approach
  • Advances a new theory regarding the nature of photography that is grounded in technology but doesn’t place it in opposition to painting
  • Includes commentaries by two leading philosophers of photography, Diarmuid Costello and Cynthia A. Freeland
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Notes on Author and Contributors xii

Preface xiii

Wonderment to Puzzlement 1

How to Do Things with Theory 17

To Possess Other Eyes: The First Art 36

Thinking Through Photographs: The Second Art 48

A New Theory of Photography 65

Lyricism: The Third Art 87

The Knowing Eye 105

Abstraction: The Fourth Art 114

Crosscurrents and Boundary Conditions 125

Appendix: The Skeptic’s Argument 133


Doing Justice to the Art in Photography 135
Diarmuid Costello

Four Thoughts about Four Arts of Photography 147
Cynthia A. Freeland

Notes 157

Index 174

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Author Information

Dominic McIver Lopes is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is the author of Understanding Pictures (1996) and Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures (2005), as well as books on computer art and the nature of art. His first camera was a Kodak Instamatic 124, which he used to document his family’s migration from Scotland to Canada.
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