Agree or Disagree? Quotes by Photographers

Artists featured in Color Rush: 75 Years of Color Photography in America had a lot to say about color photography—and they didn’t always agree. In this activity, students think critically about primary source material.

After viewing the Color Rush exhibition, divide your students into small groups of two to four. Give each group one of the quotes below. First, they should analyze the quote—what is the artist really saying? They might try rewording it into conversational terms. With what they saw in the exhibition, do they agree with the artist’s statement? Why or why not?

Share with the full group. How did artists feel about color photography—positively or negatively? What similarities and differences exist between the artists’ opinions?

  • “Color is like dynamite: dangerous, unless you know how to use it.” —Anonymous (Art Critic)
  • “You can say things with color that can’t be said in black-and-white.” —Edward Weston
  • “There are four simple words for the matter, which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar… In about fifty years, both color transparencies and paper prints in color…will very probably have faded away.” —Walker Evans
  • “Creative photographers in color explore objects in a more and more penetrating way until they reveal new meanings. These new meanings are the photographer’s contribution to objects in the outside world, and by revealing them, he reveals himself.” —Arthur Siegel