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One of the biggest problems with modern and contemporary art, for many people, is the seeming lack of skill or workmanship. The criticism is that contemporary art is a scam, in which the usual suspects are talentless fame-hungry artists, unscrupulous gallery owners and self-important “artspeak” critics.

In this villainous panoply, photography should not escape our attention. Modern art, as noted by many art historians and critics, was born when the painterly ability to depict detail was made redundant by the invention of photography. Users of the new technology, however, were of an ambivalent status; were they technicians simply operating a mechanical process, or artists in their own right? The small “Pictorialism: Prelude to Modern Photography” exhibition at Fujifilm square is a great opportunity to see how photographers around the turn of the century hoped to raise the cultural capital of the medium by investing their work with the quality of handmade craftsmanship and references to classical oil painting.

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