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Small Deaths: Photographs [Hardcover]

Kate Breakey , A. D. Coleman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 2001 Wittliff Gallery Series
Small lives end every day-the unfledged bird fallen from its nest, the unwary lizard caught by a cat-as unnoticed in dying as they were living. Deeply moved by these small deaths since her childhood in South Australia, photographer-artist Kate Breakey has been photographing found animal remains since the mid-1990s, creating stunning, oversized, hand-colored images that-paradoxically-glow with life. This volume is the first book-length work devoted to the photographs of Kate Breakey. It gathers 75 color images from her ongoing "Small Deaths" series. These birds, flowers, lizards, and insects vividly express Breakey's desire to preserve each lost creature-to "freeze it in time, suspend it in space, immortalize it so that its beauty and its death are memorialized." In a brief afterword, Breakey traces the origins of her art to a childhood spent among domestic and rescued animals on the Australian coast. In the introduction, noted art critic A. D. Coleman links Breakey's work to the larger traditions of still-life painting and the postmortem photography of the nineteenth century.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

This elegantly designed book features 81 photographs by Australian-born artist Breakey, a self-proclaimed naturalist who makes "post-mortem" photographs of birds, plants, and other small creatures. These oddly reverent "portraits" of dead subjects are enhanced with such creative photographic techniques as shallow depth of field and painstaking hand coloring methods that transform decaying animals and plants into colorful and romantic memorials. Breakey, who has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad, credits the influence of natural history dioramas, but the works here are firmly rooted in fine art photography, not science or history. Noted photography critic A.D. Coleman's insightful foreword draws comparisons between Breakey's work and the history of art and photography, but Small Deaths is essentially a collection of beautiful, highly personal photographs, not a scholarly or theoretical work. Recommended for larger public libraries and general collections. Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Since 1980, Kate Breakey's photography has appeared in over thirty one-woman exhibitions and in over thirty group exhibitions in the United States, Australia, Japan, and France. It is also held in numerous public collections, including the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the Australian National Gallery, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Art Gallery of South Australia, as well as various private collections. Currently, Kate Breakey lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 29 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book after not being able to find any other images online except the cover. I was really looking forward to owning it; I'm one of those people who collect things like tiny bird bodies, egg shells, nests....
It's a beautiful concept, but the format of the book was extemely disappointing; too much white space framed the images, keeping the viewer at a distance instead of inviting intimacy, empathy. The creatures in the photographs often looked posed.
The images also would have been more touching if they hadn't seemed so manipulated in color. It was like the photographer hadn't truly been recording the beauty of the "insignificant" deaths but seeking and exploiting them by forcing unnatural aspects on them.

I also expected this book to be filled with the record of the deaths of bird, rodents, lizards.... not the many images of dying flora that looked like pop culture greeting cards.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Award Winner for Book Design July 22 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book has received the Southern Books Competition 2001 Award of Overall Excellence for book design. "Truly enchanting, this is a wonderful example of how valuable intellectual content is enhanced and enriched by thoughtful book design. From the breathtaking front and back covers to the informative colophon at the end, this is an exceptional book. Color continuity from jacket to the text pages rewards the reader and enhances legibility. The dramatic frontispiece dazzles, and the title page is clear and elegant. Section openings mirror the title page opening. Plates and captions combine in bright, clean two-page spreads that inform and reward the viewer." Congratulations to the author, designers D.J. Stout & Julie Savaska of Pentagram Design, and the University of Texas Press.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Artistic Sensitivity of the Natural World. Dec 12 2001
Format:Hardcover
A beautiful book of an art form created with a heartfelt sensitivity for some of nature's smaller creatures.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sorrowful and Enchanting Jan. 18 2007
By Meredith Mizell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is a great deal of juxtaposition in Kate Breakey's work, and to great effect; though her photographs capture often pitiable subjects, particularly the birds, they portray them with a magnificence of color they could only dream of in life. Breakey's photography is excellent and evocative, and her skillful application of color to each image only heightens the experience. Soft focus and a saturated palette produce a dreamlike quality to many of her pieces. As I turned the pages of the book, I felt sadness for the small creatures that go unnoticed, but I was also moved by the quiet dignity they have in death. Breakey's treatment of her subject matter elevates it from the mundane to the transcendent, and it's an utterly captivating journey.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for art AND nature lovers Jan. 7 2013
By Igor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Great book in excellent condition. I am biased, as the author is my very good friend! Hard to believe these are actual photographs, not fine paintings.
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 29 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book after not being able to find any other images online except the cover. I was really looking forward to owning it; I'm one of those people who collect things like tiny bird bodies, egg shells, nests....
It's a beautiful concept, but the format of the book was extemely disappointing; too much white space framed the images, keeping the viewer at a distance instead of inviting intimacy, empathy. The creatures in the photographs often looked posed.
The images also would have been more touching if they hadn't seemed so manipulated in color. It was like the photographer hadn't truly been recording the beauty of the "insignificant" deaths but seeking and exploiting them by forcing unnatural aspects on them.

I also expected this book to be filled with the record of the deaths of bird, rodents, lizards.... not the many images of dying flora that looked like pop culture greeting cards.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Photos are Breathtaken Oct. 20 2014
By T. Porter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One of the most beautiful books on death I've ever seen. The Photos are Breathtaking or Breathtaken
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Art!!! Aug. 3 2014
By Indigo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It was a gift. My daughter was over the moon when she received it! It is a beautiful book!
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