The Photography Book Paperback – May 1 2005
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
My main quibble was in the selection of the photographs themselves. For reportage and especially war photos the overage is excellent. There is also a good selection of montage images. I found the portrait selection to be OK. I'd have been more happy to have seen fewer pictures from the FSA (Farm Security Administration ), which, although uniformly good, seemed to crowd out other sources. I suspect Ian Jeffrey got a good deal on this set of photos.
I was surprised to see very little 'fine art' photography, especially still life. It seemd that the editor felt that pictures ought to make a statement, and that therefore a picture of a typical person or a strange juxtaposition is superior to a simple, beautiful work. Even the picture of Marilyn Monroe is an odd one; technically only average, revealing little about her, the text invites us to consider the meaning of the chair beside her. I would have liked to have seen more photographs that are there because they look beautiful.
I also, frankly, got very tired of seeing pictures of railway bridges and miscellaneous uninteresting shots from the 1800's. Yes, these were important. Yes, they give an indication of the technology of the day, but do we really need to see so many sepia photographs that do not inspire? Again, I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe they had been chosen because their copyright had run out ..Read more ›
Grading this book was difficult. The photographs were well chosen to be interesting and rewarding, were reproduced faithfully, and worked well as images on facing pages. The page sizes are generous to allow more room for reproduction. Many of them are photographs that almost anyone would want to have. Almost anyone would agree that the photographs and design of the book deserve five stars.
The accompanying texts, however, were not up to the standard of the photographs in most cases. I graded these texts on average at three stars. Averaging the two scores was how I arrived at four stars.
The book's concept is to take 500 of the best photographers ever, and show one image of each in alphabetical order. Although this sounds strange, it actually works quite well. Most of the images are in black and white, but some are in color. As a result, you get a full dimensionalizing of what photography can do and mean to the photographer and viewer.
Among the famous scenes in the book are Eddie Adams' Street Execution of a Vietcong Prisoner (1968), Neil Armstrong's Buzz Aldrin on the Moon (1969), Matthew Brady's General William Tecumseh Sherman (1865), Robert Capa's Death of a Loyalist Soldier (1936), Harold Edgerton's Milk Drop Coronet (1957), Alfred Eisenstaedt's V-J Day in Times Square (1945), Robert Jackson's The Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (1963), Yousuf Karsh's Winston Churchill (1941), Joe Rosenthal's Iwo Jima (1945), Sam Shere's The Hindenburg Disaster (1937), and Nick Ut's Children Fleeing an American Napalm Strike (1972).Read more ›
Even more helpful is the additional information found in the back of the book. There are three appendices that help to explain this art form, its brief history, and how you can take part in enjoying it further. The first section is a glossary of techniques and terms - helpful for anyone who isn't skilled or knowledgeable of the art. The next section includes movements, groups, and genres of this form of art. This is a great help in understanding the context and influences of past photographers in relation to their work. The last section is an index of museums around the world including their addresses and phone numbers.
The aesthetics of the book are wonderful. Featured are over 500 photographers ranging over the span of the art of photography. The photographs represented are very clear and vibrant (where there is color), inviting the viewer to see, enjoy, and think critically about what is before them. The alphabetical organization allows for a quick read as well, enabling you to pick up at any given place in the book to enjoy a snippet of photography.
This book works excellently as a gift for a budding photographer, a coffee table piece, or a reference for those interested in influential and historic photography and photographers. It is a steal at what you can purchase it for - I doubt that you will find such a great assortment of so well established artists and their work for less than this. It's compact, but it's heavy too. For price, content, and availability, I gave this product 5 stars!
Most recent customer reviews
This book shows what amazing and inspiring pieces of art can be created with a camera.
Each of 500 photographers is represented with a single photograph. Read more
What pictures, what beauty, what a blend of art in photography, what a beautiful cover, page design, typeface, everything is just simple beauty. Read morePublished on March 25 2004 by Adam
I strongly disagree with Graham Wills' review of the following:
"Even the picture of Marilyn Monroe is an odd one; technically only average, revealing little about her, the... Read more
This is the book that I hand my photography students when they just want to "look and be inspired". It offers a wonderful assortment of artists from Niepce to Arbus. Read morePublished on May 24 2002
I've had this book since 1997 and I still refer to it for ideas. It has such a unique and diverse pictorial on each page by 'grand' and 'credible' photographers. Read morePublished on Nov. 28 2000 by Michael J. Armijo
The book was fantastic and the pictures were wonderful. The prints are good quality and there is a lot of variety of photographs. Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2000 by Jessica Leopold
This book was very interesting and the reading about the pictures was very discriptive and interesting.Some things were very exotic wich was cool.Published on June 30 2000 by Jeni
Every page of this book is filled with great pictures that show both black and white photography and also color. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2000 by Tyler Elich