on June 25, 2007
A wonderful large format and beautifully produced book of 140 photos by Russell Lee made more worthy because 101 of them have not been published together in book form. Lee is rightly famous for his FSA work though none of that output is included here. Instead there are photos from the Texas political scene from 1935 to 1965, Italy in 1960 where he did a portfolio of work commissioned by the Texas Quarterly, Saudi Arabia in 1955. The majority of the photos are of the US with plenty showing small town life.
I'm not convinced that the absence of FSA work was a wise editorial choice, clearly this aspect of his career has been well documented in other books but perhaps in this one there could have been a chapter devoted to Lee's extensive 1940 work in Pie Town, New Mexico. The photos of this small town seem to be the high point of his career, also he was experimenting with color at this time (seventeen shots are shown in Bound for Glory, ISBN 0810843484) and I hope some publisher would consider a book just on Lee's Pie Town photos.
`Russell Lee Photographs' compares very favorably with Jack Hurley's 1978 `Russell Lee Photographer (ISBN 0871001500) though the reproduction, with 250+dpi gives a much better showing that the 200dpi used in the Hurley book, which has 121 photos and a more comprehensive biography of Lee.
Both books celebrated the work of a dedicated humanist photographer whose work will equally stimulate your heart and mind.