Synopses & Reviews
On V.J. Day in Times Square, a sailor kissing a pretty girl he's never met before is caught in the act. Newly arrived European immigrants at Ellis Island gaze at the camera with a mix of apprehension and hope. A groundbreaking still life artfully eroticizes the curves and shadows of a twisted bell pepper. These are a few of the more than 150 photographs collected in American Photography that document a century of our national experience. Whether viewed as a purely artistic medium, a tool for influencing public opinion, or a recorder of events both public and personal, photography has been a powerful and intimate vehicle for communicating our values and our dreams. Focusing on one or more images for each year, this companion book to the PBS series considers some of the century's best-known photographs as well as everyday snapshots, examining the diverse roles photography has played in shaping our lives. From the one-dollar Brownie snapshot of a baby in 1900 to the awesome potential of computer-enhanced images at the brink of the millennium, American Photography covers a range of styles, formats, and subjects as diverse as the nation they sprang from. Richly detailed, authoritative, and abundantly illustrated, American Photography is a landmark look at the pictures we have taken, and where they have taken us.
This companion volume to the marvelous PBS series contends that the still photograph has played a strong role not only in capturing our history but in shaping it. Ranging form Weegee to Warhol, the book shoots with a wide-angle lens, covering the standard pictures used repeatedly in numerous compilations as well as family snapshots, glamour and advertising photos, art and science images, and press pics form the Graflex gods of yore and today's digital image makers. The editors credit the advancement of photography of all kinds to the debut of LIFE magazine; unlike the pictures in previous publication, those in LIFE didn't simply buttress the stories, they often were the stories. The book also describes how the use of photography influenced public opinion, form the man on the street to the man in the White House. The text is excellent, but the pictures speak for themselves and there are shots here that capture history (Bob Capa's GIs in the bloody surf of Omaha Beach) and evoke emotion (Dorothea Lange's heartbreaking portraits of Depression-era poor) better than words possibly could. Recommended.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 230) and index.
About the Author
Vicki Goldberg is a photography critic for the New York Times, a Harry Frank Guggen- heim Foundation fellow, and the author of several books, including The Power of Photography: How Photographs Changed Our Lives.
Robert Silberman is associate professor of Art History and director of Film Studies at the University of Minnesota. He writes frequently on photography, film, and contemporary art for Afterimage and other publications.