Monday, 2 March 2015

Captured moments

A beautiful two-volume overview of Joel Meyerowitz's contribution to the art of photography.  The 680 pages reveal 580 photos (400 in color) covering his work from 1962 to 2011.  Apart from the eight page intro by Francesco Zanot all the text is by Meyerowitz, either as an essay with each chapter or deep captions for dozens of individual photos and I thought it's pity that there wasn't more of these because he reveals his interesting thoughts about what caught his eye and why.

I thought the selection of photos was excellent, with so many in the two books you might expect to see a few also-rans but no, virtually every picture pulls you into the frame, then you appreciate the subject, composition, color or mono and I found several that just kept me looking and looking before turning the page.  The books have additional material: a twenty-page graphic novel in book two about a car trip Meyerowitz and his pop took from New York to Florida and back, the images are taken from the eighty minute DVD in the back of the book.  Book one has a fascinating sixteen page landscape insert with six photos presented as color on the left-hand page and virtually the same shot in black and white opposite.  Meyerowitz, in his essay, makes a very credible case for the superiority of color over mono images.

Inside the back cover of book one there is a fold-out that has a color print signed by the artist (it seems genuine too, not an ink-jet job, he had to do it 1,500 times for this limited edition run).  The same image is shown over a spread in the book and raises an interesting point about the book's printing.  The screen used by the Chinese printers could be 300 or 350 which is not too far off the quality of the color print.  Most art books use a 175 to 200 screen so the printing for 'Taking my time' is very impressive in my view.  The quality matt art paper helps, too.

I think it's worth commenting on the rather high price of these books, I can't see why they should cost so much (reassuringly expensive?).  Steidl have publish several high quality photographer box sets, some with up to five books and none of them cost as much as this Phaidon set.

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