September 30, 2015

Art Blogger of the Week: A.D. Coleman in New York, USA

It was Andres Zervigon, professor at Rutgers University, New Jersey, who told me about A.D. Coleman's blog. Both Andres Zervigon and A.D. Coleman are historians of photography - a field I myself have a special interest in. And the story that Andres told me was so exciting, I had to check out Coleman's blog. The story was about Robert Capa, and no, it wasn't about about the authenticity of his 1936 Falling Soldier photograph, but about those 11 slightly blurred pictures featuring D-Day 1944, that escaped the fate of Capa's 72 other photographs in Life's London darkroom. Start reading about it here. For this Robert Capa D.Day Project, Coleman, together with J. Ross Baughman, and Rob McElroy, received the 2014 Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi (SDX) Award for Research About Journalism. But that's not all: Coleman is also a blogger who started his career at the World Wide Web as early as 1995. As such, for now, he beats all the bloggers featured in this series.    

Art scene
"New York has long been, and will remain for the foreseeable future, a world center for art in all forms, including photography. That makes it, by definition, cosmopolitan in outlook, global in influence. Much of the money in the art market passes through the galleries and auction houses and private dealers located here. Much of the most influential writing about art in English gets published here. Because New York functions as a nexus and synapse for the arts, no trend prevails for long; by definition, it's a smorgasbord.

I would say the same for the U.S. as a whole. In art, as in most cultural matters, it has a heterogeneous rather than a homogenous character."

"I started my blog, Photocritic International, in mid-2009. Before that, I had published a newsletter at my website from 1995 on, but doing that in html code proved tedious, so I didn't make frequent use of that option. Blogware (I use WordPress) made production and publication simple, and enabled subscription-based delivery, easier tracking of readership, reader commenting, etc.

I use it for long-form criticism and cultural journalism, which runs contrary to the conventional wisdom proposing that blog posts should stay short and punchy. I publish 5-6 such essays each month at the blog. Because I subsidize it myself, I have no editors or advertisers to whom I have any obligation. Because my readers provide only negligible support, I write about whatever I please. I have undertaken long-term coverage of various subjects -- the dismembering of the Polaroid Collection, the 2012 presidential election (from the standpoint of the visual images involved), most recently the myth of Robert Capa's D-Day experiences and the subsequent fate of his negatives. And a much wider range of issues than even those three would suggest.

Blogging guarantees me a platform for anything and everything I want to publish, at minimal cost, subject only to my own editorial decisions. Given that so many platforms for art writing are compromised by economic ties to art-world advertisers, as well as by timid editors afraid to offend anyone, having such an outlet benefits any independent art writer, I think.

I exchange ideas with other bloggers, link to posts at other blogs, and sometimes contribute to their blogs. I also publish periodic "guest posts" at my own blog, to add a diversity of voices to it."

"As a critic, historian, and curator I specialize in photography, photo-based art, and work made with the new digital technologies -- so my purview overlaps multimedia, installation, and some other amorphous areas of contemporary creative activity.

My educational background emphasized English literature and creative writing. I'm self-educated in the subject areas I cover. I have been at it since 1968, so my 50th anniversary as a photo critic lies just a few years ahead.

I have always worked freelance, though for periods of four or more years I have been a regular columnist for such publications as the Village Voice, the New York Times, the New York Observer, and a number of art and photo magazines here and abroad. I have published 8 books of my writings, and about 2000 articles -- some of them translated into 21 languages and published in 31 countries.

Aside from what I produce for the blog, I fulfill writing assignments for online and print periodicals. I also contribute essays to monographs and museum catalogs and other types of publication. Beyond that, I offer public lectures; teach college-level full-semester courses; run seminars (in person and online/distance learning); curate exhibitions; and do some consultancy."

"I have been publishing my own work (and publishing websites containing my own work and work by others) online since 1995. The direct, tangible economic return on all that work has proved pitifully low. A few of my blog posts have made their way into print media, bringing in small fees. Only a few sales of copies of my books, writing assignments, lecture opportunities, etc., have resulted. Rarely do readers of my blog avail themselves of the "Donate" button on every page.

Giving a lecture or fulfilling a different writing assignment does not in any way "monetize" my blog -- it does not generate revenue at or from the blog. Such work subsidizes my blog; it brings in the money that makes it possible for me to publish the blog and produce its content, as a labor of love (or lunacy).

Writers considering blogging should pay attention to that important distinction. It's a form of self-publishing and, like most self-publishing, you have done well if you have broken even on your financial investment (discounting your time and labor). By that standard, I've done well with my blog and my prior online ventures over the past twenty years."

© Copyright 2015 by A. D. Coleman. All rights reserved. By permission of the author and Image/World Syndication Services,

1 comment:

  1. Culture and art is here. Great blog.
    I liked!