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Group F.64: Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and the Community of Artists Who Revolutionized American Photographyby Mary Street Alinder
Synopses & Reviews
Group f.64 is perhaps the most famous movement in the history of photography, counting among its members Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Willard Van Dyke, and Edward Weston. Revolutionary in their day, Group f.64 was one of the first modern art movements equally defined by women. From the San Francisco Bay Area, its influence extended internationally, contributing significantly to the recognition of photography as a fine art.
The group-first identified as such in a 1932 exhibition-was comprised of strongly individualist artists, brought together by a common philosophy, and held together in a tangle of dynamic relationships. They shared a conviction that photography must emphasize its unique capabilities-those that distinguished it from other arts-in order to establish the medium's identity. Their name, f.64, they took from a very small lens aperture used with their large format cameras, a pinprick that allowed them to capture the greatest possible depth of field in their lustrous, sharply detailed prints. In today's digital world, these “straight” photography champions are increasingly revered.
Mary Alinder is uniquely positioned to write this first group biography. A former assistant to Ansel Adams, she knew most of the artists featured. Just as importantly, she understands the art. Featuring fifty photographs by and of its members, Group f.64 details a transformative period in art with narrative flair.
"In this lively group biography about the California photographers known as Group f.64, Alinder (Ansel Adams: A Biography) tells a distinctly West Coast story about an ambitious, broad-minded, and unusually diverse movement. Originally founded at a party in Berkeley, Calif., in 1932 by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Willard Van Dyke, among others, Group f.64 advocated for 'straight' photography over pictorialism's painterly affectations. Starving for recognition, they promoted western photography when nobody else would (including prominent photographers like Alfred Stieglitz). Group f.64 embraced landscapes and portraiture, documentary, and even commercial work. Though the author emphasizes that women were welcomed from the very beginning, she notes, 'not one of wrote letters, articles, or books on the group,' without exploring the reasons why. Alinder, who studied under Adams and later worked as his assistant, smoothly alternates between many individual careers while still maintaining a cohesive group narrative. She follows Weston's love affair with photographer Sonya Noskowiak; Adams's tirades against the pictorialist William Mortensen and his attempts to win over Stieglitz; and Van Dyke's transition from still images to social documentary film. Admiring how the group 'propelled themselves into the general culture,' Alinder claims Group f.64 guaranteed the status photography now holds as a respected art form. While that distinction is thrown about all too frequently in these pages, she makes a good point. Agent: Victoria Shoemaker, Spieler Agency. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An engaging, illuminating group biography of the photographers of the seminal West Coast movement—the first in-depth book on Group f.64.
About the Author
Mary Street Alinder is an independent scholar specializing in twentieth-century photography. Alinder was chief assistant to Ansel Adams from 1979 until his death. She helped complete his autobiography, wrote his definitive biography, and coedited Ansel Adams: Letters and Images. She has lectured and curated exhibitions worldwide, including a 2002 Adams Centennial exhibition and a Group f.64 show at the de Young Museum to coincide with publication of this book. She lives in Northern California.
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