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Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art Paperback – September 1, 1976

4.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Szarkowski is director emeritus of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. As director of the department from 1962 through 1991, he oversaw the presentation of more than 100 exhibitions. He also oversaw the publication of more than 30 books and catalogues, the inauguration of the Museum's first photography collection galleries in 1964 and their expansion in 1984 and the establishment of endowments to support the department's programs. Throughout his tenure, he supervised the development of the collection, which now includes more than 25,000 works spanning the history of photography. Szarkowski was born in Ashland, Wisconsin in 1925.

John Szarkowski is director emeritus of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. As director of the department from 1962 through 1991, he oversaw the presentation of more than 100 exhibitions. He also oversaw the publication of more than 30 books and catalogues, the inauguration of the Museum's first photography collection galleries in 1964 and their expansion in 1984 and the establishment of endowments to support the department's programs. Throughout his tenure, he supervised the development of the collection, which now includes more than 25,000 works spanning the history of photography. Szarkowski was born in Ashland, Wisconsin in 1925.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870705156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870705151
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.7 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vladimir Belomestnov on May 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you think that you can appreciate a photographic image try to look at the images in this book and explain what you see and why do you like it or not. And then read the short essay by John Szarkovski. You will be amazed how rich is his language and precise is his judgment on each photograph and photographer. You can open this book randomly day after day and get inspired and motivated with exemplary classics accompanied with explanation of what has been achieved by each and how does it make difference for us today and for the whole history of art and craft of photography.

This book is a perfect gift for someone who not only enjoys photographs by others but wants to form a vision of his own. It is full of hints for creativity carefully selected and presented with perfection.

The duotone prints in the book are done on the great paper with amazing in quality.
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Format: Paperback
This book fills the reader with emotion and knowledge about photography and photographs. I will never look at a photograph the same way after having read it. The language is beautiful and inspiring and photographs wonderfully reproduced. Anyone who loves the subject or art in general will find excitement on every page. NOW I can begin to know which photographers to study first and how to approach an enormous subject.
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Format: Paperback
Although this book has much less female nudity than many photographic books, there are two such pages in the book. If this type of representation is offensive to you, either skip this book or avoid those pages.
This book has modest purposes. "This is a picture book, and its first purpose is to provide the material for simple delectation." Beyond that, it is "a visual interim report [as of 1973] on the results of collecting photographs at The Museum of Modern Art." These purposes are magnificently fulfilled, and your eyes and mind will be filled with many useful new perspectives and thoughts as a result of your delectations here. Your life will be expanded by seeing much more, both in photographs and in life, as a result.
Mr. Szarkowski, head of the photography collection at MOMA, points at that photography "has received little serious study." As a result, a language and analytical framework for considering photography are not yet developed. To overcome that limitation. Mr. Szarkowski has provided a number of perspectives in the one-page essays that accompany each page of photography. These perspectives include the utilitarian purpose of the image, the style of the photographer, the technology of the methods used, and the significance of the subjects or subject. He also draws your attention to detail or information that expand your knowledge. It is like having the best docent's photography tour of your life, as you go through the images.
These essays are modestly described as simply "an attempt to describe photography from a somewhat more liberal and exploratory perspective." Well, they are much more than that.
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I found the title and editorial description rather misleading: "A visually splendid album, the book is both a treasury of remarkable photographs and a lively introduction to the aesthetics and the historical development of photography."

I found the book disappointingly short on the aesthetics part. The book contains 100 photographs and a short essay/note on each of them. Now, most of the text is actually about the background of the photograph. Mostly about the photographer and situation photographed and some on the printing process employed. Generally only the last paragraph is devoted to some comments on the image itself. I really expected to learn more about Szarkowski's thoughts on the images as such.

The book is much better on the historical part. The essays are quite enjoyable and have given me a small background knowledge of the historical development of photography. There is something about the authors lucid style of writing that appeals to me, and seduced me to actually complete the read and rather enjoy it even though it turned out to be very different from what I expected.

The historical part deserves a 5 star rating, however both the title and editorial description suggests a more comprehensive treatment of the aesthetical part. I therefore give it a 3 star rating.
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Ok, back in print finally,this is a must have addition to your photographic library. The criticism of images from MOMA, by John Szarkowski, will open your mind to the story behind the photographs. It is a cliff notes of a master class in understanding photography.
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Format: Paperback
Imagine you are invited to spend the day viewing the photography collection of The Museum of Modern Art, and your guide for this visit will be none other than John Szarkowski, one of the most important and influential curators ever and also a great gentleman. Imagine also that Szarkowski's goal is something more than to show you great photographs--it is nothing less than to teach you how to see like a photographer.

Szarkowski accomplishes this goal with an ingenious format: on one page he shows you an image, printed in duotone, and on the facing page he tells you about the photographer, important influences, the technology employed, the photographer's importance to the history of the medium and just what it is that, to Szarkowski, made the photograph compelling.

This is easily one of the 10 most important photography books ever published for a general audience and deserves a place in the library of anyone who cares about photography.
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