Thursday, 22 January 2015
A slight look at a big subject
The sixty-eight photos in the book are from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.
collection and featuring twenty-one American photographers with most work dating from 1945. Though the names are all well known I found the selection rather disappointing. Turn the pages and the overall impression is of dark, obscure looking mono photos with the natural world providing thirty-three of the total. Can sixty-eight photos really sum up the American photographic scene -- probably not especially when several photographers only get one image but this is an inherent problem when a collection tries to build up a representative sample of a genre. No doubt everyone will have their favorites that are missing but there is no Walker Evans, William Eggleston, Eugene Smith, Joel Meyerowitz or any of the FSA photographers in these pages.
I think the book is only worth getting if you can find a cheap copy. What is included is certainly well printed. There are only four actual four color photos though the remainder are mono they have been printed using four colors and the paper is a gorguous silky semi-matt art. Each photographer has a short essay with the back pages having a bibliography (which really should have been included on the essay page).
There are far better overviews of American photography with 'An American century of photography' by Keith Davis probably the best (ISBN 0810963787).