One man’s fish is another man’s poisson

I posted the following image on Flickr recently and all the comments suggested cropping and eliminating distracting elements.

Gone fishin'

I tried to do what was suggested — I’m quite proud of the cloning, especially under the bridge — but it left me wondering about the differences in opinions regarding the two images.

Gone fishin' 2

I made the following comment in Flickr:

Nevertheless, I still feel that the original version is interesting — in the style of 19th century painting, the “extra” elements that distract the 21st century eye can be read individually, and separately from a single, whole image. Now we look for the overall composition in terms of fairly minimal lines, and expect a one-word “feeling”, such as “bliss”, “peace” or “still”.

Pre-Modern art often sought to tell a narrative through multiple symbols, and the whole might be broken into sub-sections with their own composition of lines, texture, shading, etc. Certainly visual art in the past served to tell a story, often moralistic, for a largely illiterate public. In contrast, contemporary art prefers a single message, usually emotional, and sees multiple elements as extraneous and distracting.

Sign of the times?