The concept for this book is simple: 500 photographers, 500 pages. Arranged alphabetically, each of the photographers--from contemporary Dutch cameraman Hans Aarsman to mid-century New York shutterbug James Van Der Zee--gets a full, oversized page. On it is a large, expertly reproduced image and a concise caption packed with information about the photographer and his or her work. The coincidental alignment of photos of different eras and aesthetic sensibilities provides unusual and exciting contrasts that add an extra dimension to readers' perception of the work. Rineke Dijkstra's color-saturated shot of a bikini-clad beachgoer in South Carolina faces a Mike Disfarmer portrait of a rural Arkansas couple in 1943. Imogen Cunningham's inimitable Nude
is here, along with a more surprising image--My Mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
, a color-photo collage by painter David Hockney. With iconic photographs like Alfred Eisenstaedt's shot of a sailor and a nurse kissing in Times Square on V-J Day, historic ones like Larry Burrows's shot of wounded U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, and pop images like David LaChapelle's picture of a bodybuilder posing amid a cluster of little boys aping his stance, the scope of this visual encyclopedia is truly epic. And with its incredibly low price tag, there's no better value out there for fans of photography.
From Library Journal
Phaidon's latest massive reference, after the wildly popular The Art Book (LJ 12/94) and The 20th-Century Art Book (LJ 2/1/97), again presents a single work and a one-paragraph summary of the work, the artist, and the career for each of 500 artists. The same obvious reference value of the previous titles is to be found here. The unnamed editors have done a fine job picking one work to summarize a career, though, of course, the same sort of arguments about inclusion will also be provoked: Where are George Platt Lynes and George Dureau? Why include photojournalists' works that function more as pop-culture icons than as representives of a style, movement, or singular talent? In the earlier books, the choice to present the images alphabetically by artists' names left one without any sense of stylistic relationships; here the effect is to create surprising juxtapositions of art and documentary works, and pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries. Indeed the inclusion of iconic images and the juxtapositions raise questions central to the history of the medium and make this perhaps the most successful of the books. Highly recommended for most libraries.?Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.