Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Art of the commercial lens

Retail Fictions was published in conjunction with an exhibition of Bartholomew's work at the LA County Museum of Art in 1998. He was one of those interesting commercial photographers equally at home in the studio or working out doors. Starting in mid-thirties with a New York studio he created advertising work for major corporations like General Electric, Texaco, Eastman Kodak and Coca-Cola but also editorial shots for Harper's Bazaar, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's and Redbook.

There are thirty-two photos in the book for Eastman Kodak from 1946 to 1952 (eight of these are in a two page fold-out) the company was one of his major clients because he had a knack of capturing groups of adolescence using a Kodak camera. Another of his specialities was using a stroboscopic lighting for multiple-exposure photos, there several of these for Playtex and a beautiful color one, over a spread, for Texaco.

The book is well produced with 108 plates, all of which involve people, I'm surprised there weren't a few still-life shots included. Tim Wride writes an interesting twenty-page essay (with illustrations) at the front of the book about Bartholomew's life and his work as a commercial photographer. What I liked about the book was seeing advertising photos without all the headlines and copy that art directors put on photos without too much consideration regarding the image. As all work is from the mid-thirties to the fifties it's a nostalgic look back to see how products were sold with photos.

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