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Henry Wessel: Waikiki Hardcover – July 20, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 62 pages
  • Publisher: Steidl (July 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 386930300X
  • ISBN-13: 978-3869303000
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 11.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,910,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I have long admired Mr. Wessel's work and still do . The quality of his light is unlike anyone else currently working. I was excited to see that his work done in Hawaii was being published and purchased it sight unseen. Truth be told, I am dissapionted. For the cost of the book, I expected more than just twenty five photographs. The printing is reasonable, but along with the construction of the book can be better. I would have also liked some more insightful writing and seen some more in depth input from or about the artist.
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Format: Hardcover
"...There is a certain and sometimes startling forthrightness in these pictures...a palpable sensuality throughout this work. A delight in the sensations of the body that ranges from the frankly sexual to the more innocent pleasures of warm sun on skin or the splash of cool water..."

- Corey Keller

Waikiki, one of Honolulu's most famous neighbourhoods, had already become a crowded tourist destination when Wessel photographed there in the late seventies and early eighties. This book contains Wessel's edit of these pictures and is a record of American leisure at this time: of surf, sand and inexhaustible pleasure seekers. Yet Wessel equally explores the contradictions of Waikiki - concrete hotels invading pristine beaches, culture encroaching on nature. Despite all the fun in the sun, Wessel's subjects are often distanced and dissatisfied, suggesting an underlying unease.

Wessel's Waikiki pictures show another side of paradise - one where the sun's aggressive physical presence scorches civility; where the lukewarm sea rather than refreshes, bastes and tosses swimmers with dispassion, and where the pressure to enjoy precious leisure time leaves tourists squinting, scowling, or staring instead of smiling, their body language reflecting grim resolve and a determination to endure the fun. Wessel records the struggle - the dream remains but paradise has been bleached to the bone.

Henry Wessel

Born in New Jersey in 1942, Henry Wessel has been honored with two Guggenheim grants and three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His photographs are included in the permanent collections of the major American, European, and Asian museums. His work has been frequently and widely exhibited, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
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