The advent of photography revolutionized perception, making visible what was once impossible to see with the human eye. In At the Edge of Sight, Shawn Michelle Smith engages these dynamics of seeing and not seeing, focusing attention as much on absence as presence, on the invisible as the visible. Exploring the limits of photography and vision, she asks: What fails to register photographically, and what remains beyond the frame? What is hidden by design, and what is obscured by cultural blindness? Smith studies manifestations of photography's brush with the unseen in her own photographic work and across the wide-ranging images of early American photographers, including F. Holland Day, Eadweard Muybridge, Andrew J. Russell, Chansonetta Stanley Emmons, and Augustus Washington. She concludes by showing how concerns raised in the nineteenth century remain pertinent today in the photographs of Abu Ghraib. Ultimately, Smith explores the capacity of photography to reveal what remains beyond the edge of sight.
Miles Davis, supremely cool behind his shades. Billie Holiday, eyes closed and head tilted back in full cry. John Coltrane, one hand behind his neck and a finger held pensively to his lips. These iconic images have captivated jazz fans nearly as much as the music has. Jazz photographs are visual landmarks in American history, acting as both a reflection and a vital part of African American culture in a time of immense upheaval, conflict, and celebration. Charting the development of jazz photography from the swing era of the 1930s to the rise of black nationalism in the ’60s, Blue Notes in Black and White is the first of its kind: a fascinating account of the partnership between two of the twentieth century’s most innovative art forms.
Benjamin Cawthra introduces us to the great jazz photographers—including Gjon Mili, William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Francis Wolff, Roy DeCarava, and William Claxton—and their struggles, hustles, styles, and creative visions. We also meet their legendary subjects, such as Duke Ellington, sweating through a late-night jam session for the troops during World War II, and Dizzy Gillespie, stylish in beret, glasses, and goatee. Cawthra shows us the connections between the photographers, art directors, editors, and record producers who crafted a look for jazz that would sell magazines and albums. And on the other side of the lens, he explores how the musicians shaped their public images to further their own financial and political goals.
This mixture of art, commerce, and racial politics resulted in a rich visual legacy that is vividly on display in Blue Notes in Black and White. Beyond illuminating the aesthetic power of these images, Cawthra ultimately shows how jazz and its imagery served a crucial function in the struggle for civil rights, making African Americans proudly, powerfully visible.
Caroline Vaughan’s photographs offer inspired and surprising visions of landscapes, still lifes, and the human form. In Borrowed Time, her images of nature and people, sometimes surreal and often arresting, follow each other to create a visual poem of opposition and likeness, physical beauty and balance. Compelling the viewer’s attention with delicate rich tones and meticulous technique, she holds the viewer’s gaze even when her subject is difficult. Most highly acclaimed for her psychologically complex but subtle portraits of family, friends, loved ones, and strangers, Vaughan’s work, though widely published and displayed, is collected here for the first time.
In a world where nearly everyone has a cellphone camera capable of zapping countless instant photos, it can be a challenge to remember just how special and transformative Polaroid photography was in its day. And yet, there’s still something magical for those of us who recall waiting for a Polaroid picture to develop. Writing in the context of two Polaroid Corporation bankruptcies, not to mention the obsolescence of its film, Peter Buse argues that Polaroid was, and is, distinguished by its process—by the fact that, as the New York Times put it in 1947, “the camera does the rest.”
Polaroid was often dismissed as a toy, but Buse takes it seriously, showing how it encouraged photographic play as well as new forms of artistic practice. Drawing on unprecedented access to the archives of the Polaroid Corporation, Buse reveals Polaroid as photography at its most intimate, where the photographer, photograph, and subject sit in close proximity in both time and space—making Polaroid not only the perfect party camera but also the tool for frankly salacious pictures taking.
Along the way, Buse tells the story of the Polaroid Corporation and its ultimately doomed hard-copy wager against the rising tide of digital imaging technology. He explores the continuities and the differences between Polaroid and digital, reflecting on what Polaroid can tell us about how we snap photos today. Richly illustrated, The Camera Does the Rest will delight historians, art critics, analog fanatics, photographers, and all those who miss the thrill of waiting to see what develops.
In the digital age, photography confronts its future under the competing signs of ubiquity and obsolescence. While technology has allowed amateurs and experts alike to create high-quality photographs in the blink of an eye, new electronic formats have severed the original photochemical link between image and subject. At the same time, recent cinematic photography has stretched the concept of photography and raised questions about its truth value as a documentary medium. Despite this situation, photography remains a stubbornly substantive form of evidence: referenced by artists, filmmakers, and writers as a powerful emblem of truth, photography has found its home in other media at precisely the moment of its own material demise.
By examining this idea of photography as articulated in literature, film, and the graphic novel, Daguerreotypes demonstrates how photography secures identity for figures with an otherwise unstable sense of self. Lisa Saltzman argues that in many modern works, the photograph asserts itself as a guarantor of identity, whether genuine or fabricated. From Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home—we find traces of photography’s “fugitive subjects” throughout contemporary culture. Ultimately, Daguerreotypes reveals how the photograph, at once personal memento and material witness, has inspired a range of modern artistic and critical practices.
James Welling University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress TR654.W4187 2015 | Dewey Decimal 779.36
For more than thirty-five years, James Welling has explored the material and conceptual possibilities of photography. Diary/Landscape—the first mature body of work by this important contemporary artist—set the framework for his subsequent investigations of abstraction and his fascination with nineteenth- and twentieth-century New England.
In July 1977, Welling began photographing a two-volume travel diary kept by his great-grandmother Elizabeth C. Dixon, as well as landscapes in southern Connecticut. In one closely cropped image, lines of tight cursive share the page with a single ivy leaf preserved in the diary. In another snowy image, a stand of leafless trees occludes the gleaming Long Island sound. In subject and form, Welling emulated the great American modernists Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Walker Evans—a bold move for an artist associated with radical postmodernism. At the same time, Welling’s close-ups of handwriting push to the fore the postmodernist themes of copying and reproduction.
A beautiful and moving meditation on family, history, memory, and place, Diary/Landscape reintroduced history and private emotion as subjects in high art, while also helping to usher in the centrality of photography and theoretical questions about originality that mark the epochal Pictures Generation. The book is published to accompany the first-ever complete exhibition of this series of pivotal photographs, now owned by the Art Institute of Chicago.
In Embodying Relation Allison Moore examines the tensions between the local and the global in the art photography movement in Bamako, Mali, which blossomed in the 1990s after Malian photographers Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé became internationally famous and the Bamako Photography Biennale was founded. Moore traces the trajectory of Malian photography from the 1880s—when photography first arrived as an apparatus of French colonialism—to the first African studio practitioners of the 1930s and the establishment in 1994 of the Bamako Biennale, Africa's most important continent-wide photographic exhibition. In her detailed discussion of Bamakois artistic aesthetics and institutions, Moore examines the post-fame careers of Keïta and Sidibé, the biennale's structure, the rise of women photographers, cultural preservation through photography, and how Mali's shift to democracy in the early 1990s enabled Bamako's art scene to flourish. Moore shows how Malian photographers' focus on cultural exchange, affective connections with different publics, and merging of traditional cultural precepts with modern notions of art embody Caribbean philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant's notion of “relation” in ways that spark new artistic forms, practices, and communities.
Though photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams were contemporaries and longtime friends, most of their work portrays contrasting subject matter. Lange’s artistic photodocumentation set a new aesthetic standard for social commentary; Adams lit up nature’s wonders with an unfailing eye and preeminent technical skill. That they joined together to photograph Mormons in Utah in the early 1950s for Life magazine may come as a surprise.
In a Rugged Land examines the history and content of the two photographers’ forgotten collaboration Three Mormon Towns. Looking at Adams’s and Lange’s photographs, extant letters, and personal memories, the book provides a window into an important moment in their careers and seeks to understand why a project that once held such promise ended in disillusionment and is now little more than a footnote in their illustrative biographies. Swensen’s in-depth research and interpretation help make sense of what they did and place them alongside others who were also exploring the particular qualities of the Mormon village at that time.
Winner of the Joan Paterson Kerr Book Award for best illustrated book on the history of the American West from the Western History Association.
Winner of the Best Book Award from the Utah State Historical Society.
Winner of the 15 Bytes Book Award for Art Book.
Honorable mention for Best Book from the Mormon History Association.
Siegfried Kracauer was a leading figure on the Weimar arts scene and one of the foremost representatives of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Best known for a wealth of writings on sociology and film theory, his influence is felt in the work of many of the period’s preeminent thinkers, including the critic Theodor W. Adorno, who once claimed he owed more to Kracauer than any other intellectual.
Kracauer.Photographic Archive, a companion volume to The Past’s Threshold: Essays on Photography, collects previously unpublished photographs by Siegfried and Elisabeth, “Lili,” Kracauer. With its remarkably rich material, the book tells the story of the Kracauer’s close working relationship, from their marriage in Germany to their escape to Paris and the war and postwar years in the United States. While neither Kracauer nor his wife trained in photography, their portraits, city views, and landscapes evince impressive aesthetic and technical skill, while simultaneously shedding light on their lives marked by exile and flight.
Though he’s known now primarily as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in his lifetime Lewis Carroll was interested at least as much in photography as in writing. This book offers a close look at Carroll’s engagement with the medium, both as a creator and a collector of photographs. Lindsay Smith takes readers to the glass studio above Carroll’s college rooms at Oxford, where he created many of his striking portraits, and she also follows him into the field—on excursions to the theater in London, to the seaside at Eastbourne, and even to Russia. Smith also details Carroll’s enthusiastic work as a collector, in which role he arranged portrait sittings for photographers whose work he admired.
Beautifully illustrated with a generous selection of Carroll’s work and that of other photographers of the period, this book gives fans of Carroll’s writing a new way to understand his creative genius.
A new look at the work of Mario Giacomelli, one of Italy’s foremost photographers of the twentieth century.
Mario Giacomelli (1925–2000) was born into poverty and lived his entire life in Senigallia, a seaside town along the Adriatic coast in Italy’s Marche region. He purchased his first camera in 1953 and quickly gained recognition for the raw expressiveness of his images. His preference for grainy, high-contrast film and paper produced bold, geometric compositions with glowing whites and deep blacks. Giacomelli most frequently focused his camera on the people, landscapes, and seascapes of the Marche, and he often spent several years expanding and reinterpreting a single body of work or repurposing an image made for one series for inclusion in another. By applying titles derived from poetry and literature to his photographs, he transformed ordinary subjects into meditations on time, memory, and existence.
Spanning the photographer’s earliest pictures to those made in the final years of his life, this publication celebrates the J. Paul Getty Museum’s extensive Giacomelli holdings, formed in large part through a significant gift from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser.
In 1875, after being acquitted for the murder of his wife’s lover, Eadweard Muybridge spent a year photographing along the Central American Pacific Coast, particularly in Guatemala and Panamá. Upon his return to California in 1876, he published a very limited number of albums of the photographs (11 are known), each of which was unique in size and scope. In 2007, photographer Byron Wolfe (born 1967) tracked down and cataloged every known Muybridge Central American photograph. Then, with cultural geographer Scott Brady, he traveled to many of Muybridge’s sites to rephotograph them. Through photographic collage, interpretive rephotography, illustrations and essays, this book examines an exceptionally rare series by Muybridge. Also included is a catalogue of every known Muybridge Central American picture.
Presenting two decades of work by Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography after Photography is an inquiry into the circuits of power that shape photographic practice, criticism, and historiography. As the boundaries that separate photography from other forms of artistic production are increasingly fluid, Solomon-Godeau, a pioneering feminist and politically engaged critic, argues that the relationships between photography, culture, gender, and power demand renewed attention. In her analyses of the photographic production of Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Susan Meiselas, Francesca Woodman, and others, Solomon-Godeau refigures the disciplinary object of photography by considering these practices through an examination of the determinations of genre and gender as these shape the relations between photographers, their images, and their viewers. Among her subjects are the 2006 Abu Ghraib prison photographs and the Cold War-era exhibition The Family of Man, insofar as these illustrate photography's embeddedness in social relations, viewing relations, and ideological formations.
As anyone who has wielded a camera knows, photography has a unique relationship to chance. It also represents a struggle to reconcile aesthetic aspiration with a mechanical process. Robin Kelsey reveals how daring innovators expanded the aesthetic limits of photography in order to create art for a modern world.
Photography is one of the principal filters through which we engage the world. The contributors to this volume focus on Walter Benjamin's concept of the optical unconscious to investigate how photography has shaped history, modernity, perception, lived experience, politics, race, and human agency. In essays that range from examinations of Benjamin's and Sigmund Freud's writings to the work of Kara Walker and Roland Barthes's famous Winter Garden photograph, the contributors explore what photography can teach us about the nature of the unconscious. They attend to side perceptions, develop latent images, discover things hidden in plain sight, focus on the disavowed, and perceive the slow. Of particular note are the ways race and colonialism have informed photography from its beginning. The volume also contains photographic portfolios by Zoe Leonard, Kelly Wood, and Kristan Horton, whose work speaks to the optical unconscious while demonstrating how photographs communicate on their own terms. The essays and portfolios in Photography and the Optical Unconscious create a collective and sustained assessment of Benjamin's influential concept, opening up new avenues for thinking about photography and the human psyche.
Contributors. Mary Bergstein, Jonathan Fardy, Kristan Horton, Terri Kapsalis, Sarah Kofman, Elisabeth Lebovici, Zoe Leonard, Gabrielle Moser, Mignon Nixon, Thy Phu, Mark Reinhardt, Shawn Michelle Smith, Sharon Sliwinski, Laura Wexler, Kelly Wood, Andrés Mario Zervigón
Mexican-American life, like that of nearly every contemporary community, has been extensively photographed. Yet there is surprisingly little scholarship on Chicano photography. Picturing the Barrio presents the first book-length examination on the topic. David William Foster analyzes the imagery of ten distinctive artists who offer a range of approaches to portraying Chicano life. The production of each artist is examined as an ideological interpretation of how Chicano experience is constructed and interpreted through the medium of photography, in sites ranging from the traditional barrio to large metropolitan societies. These photographers present artistic as well as documentary images of the socially invisible. They and their subjects grapple with definitions of identity, as well as ethnicity and gender. As such, this study deepens our understanding of the many interpretations of the “Chicano experience.”
Serious Daring is the story of the complementary journeys of two American women artists, celebrated fiction writer Eudora Welty and internationally acclaimed photographer Rosamond Purcell, each of whom initially practiced, but then turned from, the art form ultimately pursued by the other.
For both Welty and Purcell, the art realized is full of the art seemingly abandoned. Welty’s short stories and novels use images of photographs, photographers, and photography. Purcell photographed books, texts, and writing.
Both women make compelling art out of the seeming tension between literary and visual cultures. Purcell wrote a memoir in which photographs became endnotes. Welty re-emerged as a photographer through the publication of four volumes of what she called her “snapshots,” magnificent black-and-white photographs of small-town Mississippi and New York City life.
Serious Daring is a fascinating look at how the road not taken can stubbornly accompany the chosen path, how what is seemingly left behind can become a haunting and vital presence in life and art.
During the 1930s, the world of photography was unsettled, exciting, and boisterous. John Raeburn's A Staggering Revolution recreates the energy of the era by surveying photography's rich variety of innovation, exploring the aesthetic and cultural achievements of its leading figures, and mapping the paths their pictures blazed public's imagination.
While other studies of thirties photography have concentrated on the documentary work of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), no previous book has considered it alongside so many of the decade's other important photographic projects. A Staggering Revolution includes individual chapters on Edward Steichen's celebrity portraiture; Berenice Abbott's Changing New York project; the Photo League's ethnography of Harlem; and Edward Weston's western landscapes, made under the auspices of the first Guggenheim Fellowship awarded to a photographer. It also examines Margaret Bourke-White's industrial and documentary pictures, the collective undertakings by California's Group f.64, and the fashion magazine specialists, as well as the activities of the FSA and the Photo League.
One of Chicago's great cultural achievements, the Institute of Design was among the most important schools of photography in twentieth-century America. It began as an outpost of experimental Bauhaus education and was home to an astonishing group of influential teachers and students, including Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Harry Callahan, and Aaron Siskind. To date, however, the ID's enormous contributions to the art and practice of photography have gone largely unexplored. Taken by Design is the first publication to examine thoroughly this remarkable institution and its lasting impact.
With nearly 300 illustrations, including many never-before published photographs, Taken by Design examines the changing nature of photography over this critical period in America's midcentury. It starts by documenting the experimental nature of Moholy's Bauhaus approach and photography's new and enhanced role in training the "complete designer." Next it traces the formal and abstract camera experiments under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, which aimed at achieving a new kind of photographic subjectivity. Finally, it highlights the ID's focus on conscious references to the processes of the photographic medium itself. In addition to photographs by Moholy, Callahan, and Siskind, the book showcases works by Barbara Crane, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Joseph Jachna, Kenneth Josephson, Gyorgy Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Ray K. Metzker, Richard Nickel, Arthur Siegel, Art Sinsabaugh, and many others. Major essays from experts in the field, biographies, a chronology, and reprints of critical essays are also included, making Taken by Design an essential work for anyone interested in the history of American photography.
Keith Davis, Lloyd Engelbrecht, John Grimes, Nathan Lyons, Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Elizabeth Siegel, David Travis, Larry Viskochil, James N. Wood
Based in the Boston area, F. Holland Day (1864–1933) was a central figure in artistic circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Publisher of Oscar Wilde and Stephen Crane, mentor to a young Kahlil Gibran, adviser and friend to photographers Alvin Langdon Coburn and Edward Steichen, Day lived a life devoted to art and beauty. At the turn of the twentieth century, his reputation rivaled that of Alfred Stieglitz. A pioneer in the field of pictorial photography, Day was also an influential book publisher in the Arts and Crafts tradition. He cofounded the publishing company of Copeland and Day, which issued more than a hundred titles between 1893 and 1899. In addition, he embraced a unique sense of social responsibility and a commitment to historic preservation. Colorful and sometimes eccentric, Day was best known for his stunningly original, brilliantly executed, and sometimes controversial photographic images of blacks, children, and allegorical subjects. His determination to promote photography as a fine art led him to create photographic representations of the crucifixion of Christ, studies for which he was his own model. Although he continued to mentor young artists until his death, ill health caused Day to spend the last fourteen years of his life inside his home in Norwood, Massachusetts. By the time he died in 1933, he was virtually unknown, but in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in his art. Responding to this renewed interest, Patricia Fanning has written an impressive biography—one that draws on previously unavailable archival material and is attuned to the historical and cultural contexts in which Day lived and worked. The book is illustrated with more than a hundred photographs, including 32 duotone illustrations of the artist's work.