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ANANDA KENTISH MUTHU COOMARASWAMY
[1877 - 1947] metaphysician, pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art
The camera is a means of expression with virtues and limitations or its own; the photograph which looks like a drawing, etching or painting, is not a real photograph. The peculiar virtue of photography, at the same time, in the hands of a purely mechanical operator, its severest limitation, is its power of revealing all textures and revealing all details. The art of photography is to be sought precisely at this point: it lies in using this technical perfection in such a way that every element shall hold its place and every detail contribute to the expression of the theme. Just as in other arts there is no room here for the non-essential. Inasmuch as the lens does not in the same way as the pencil lend itself to the elimination of elements, the problem is so to render every element that it becomes essential; and, inasmuch as in the last analysis there are no distinctions in Nature of significant and insignificant, the pursuit of this ideal is theoretically justified. A search for and approach to this end distinguishes the work of Alfred Stieglitz. It must not be supposed that the adoption of a particular equipment (such as lenses of critical focus or particular color screens) can by itself achieve the desired result; here, as elsewhere, it is the man behind the tool, and not the tool, that counts. - Ananda Kentish Muthu Coomaraswamy - Aperture vol. 16, no. 3, 1972

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