One day later I like This Art ran a sky series by Eric Cahan (via Triangulation) which looked quite similar.
If these images look vaguely familiar, perhaps you're remembering the cover of Lay Flat 02 from last Winter which featured an Ann Woo sunset photo.
Or maybe they remind you of Jon Stanley Austin's Skyscape photographs?
Is there nothing new under the sunset? Sky colors may be resurgent but they aren't exactly fresh. Richard Misrach thoroughly covered this territory in the 90s with his sky series.
I'm not saying Misrach exhausted the topic, but at this point photographers would have to ask themselves pretty hard what they might be adding to it. Oh well. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as Misrach knows full well.
Maybe part of the reason sunset photos are so tempting is because traditionally they've been a such photographic punch line. I mean, who photographs a sunset? Isn't that like shooting an old barn or a nude on a log?
For irony-loving artists, the fact that it's cliché is perfect motivation. Straddling the line between high and low art is a favorite pastime. Lift up the low. Tear down the high. Pretty soon we don't know if the sun is setting or rising.
If the separation between dawn and dusk is uncomfortably narrow, so too is the line between fine art and and schmaltz. Pretty dramatic colors in spectrum. Is it low art? High? Pretty? Dramatic? Who knows. At this point maybe the ultimate prank is just to program colors into a computer and have a robot paint them:
Honestly I'd been thinking about rainbow gradations even before this recent batch, ever since reading this post by J. Wesley Brown which deftly pulled together a wide range of examples. They're not all skies, but they get the point across. Something is afoot.
For me this post was like a catchy pop song that became stuck in my head. After reading it I began to see rainbows everywhere, even in places I shouldn't have. For example, on Jim Johnson's blog:
I noticed with fresh eyes the rainbow that appeared every time I loaded a new browser window:
And the one in Alex Webb's brilliant new book:
Even away from the the photo world I couldn't escape them. Here is what I see downtown Eugene every Saturday:
Maybe the rainbows were there all along and I'd never paid attention. Or maybe it was in fact a new age dawning. Or setting. I couldn't tell.
So I wrote to J. Wesley Brown and told him I had a problem. I told him thanks to his post I now had the rainbow song stuck in my head and asked what should I do? What's the secret to the rainbows?
He wrote back that he wasn't sure what was going on but that it was probably a new movement or school that didn't exist before, exploring color, gradients, rainbows, prisms, and selective color manipulation. He was calling them New Mystics to himself because he felt a sort of mystical vibe from such photos. And they all seemed to enjoy that "magical, hipster element". And oh yeah, he wrote, by the way have you seen this rainbow?
Great, another pop song stuck. Now I can't see a movie the normal way. Thanks a lot, Wesley.
I wrote back that I wasn't sure anymore what a hipster was. Someone that mixes high and low? Who wears a fedora? Who shoots color fields? Who sees them where they aren't? In the subject line of the email I wrote suggestively, "We all see what we want to see", not really sure if it was a statement or a question.
Yes, we all see what we want to see at the end of a post about rainbows.