The first thing that struck about this book was the amazing print quality. As far as I can tell the screen used is 250 to 300dpi (maybe higher!) and it was produced at the publisher's plant in Bologna. On page sixty-two there is a wonderful photo by Bruce Davidson of a laughing woman sitting in an apartment, the camera captures her and also looks out of the window so you can see the street scene below where it's possible to read the street signs and ads on a shop.
The thirteen photographers featured get ten images each (though the exhibition had 173) I think it would be fair to say that with just this small number their style and point-of-view clearly comes across. Interestingly the viewer's point-of-view will come into play as the pages are turned. The last two photographers, Ed Templeton and Ryan McGinley don't do anything for me. I find their photos far too subjective and in the case of McGinley the color work seems not much better than snaps but I can appreciate that their coverage of youth culture probably resonates with that market so their inclusion in a book of American photographers looking at the social landscape is justified.
Though there are only ten photos to sum up each contributor I thought the choice was interesting. Robert Frank has two from 1951 predating his 'The Americans' book, Gordon Parks brilliant American Gothic is here but also a 1970 shot of Eldridge Cleaver. Those from Diane Arbus are well known and Richard Avedon's contribution are from his book 'In the American West'.
Despite the stunning print quality there are some annoying editorial flaws (very typical of exhibition catalogs) in the text.Read more ›